Being compared to Toy Story is no bad thing, and in a sense you could simplify the plot of Wreck-It Ralph to ‘Toy Story, but with games’, but that sells it about as short as Sarah Silverman’s diminutive character Vanellope Von Schweetz.
The film uses the past 30 years of computer games as its playground, with anyone who has even a passing appreciation for games able to find something to latch onto, whether it’s as obscure as a sound effect from Metal Gear Solid or as plain as the unassuming paddles from arcade classic Pong.
The smashing together of the old and new is what makes the film so special. On the one hand you have traditional 8-bit graphics and music, seen from the players’ point of view as they enjoy titles like Tapper or Space Invaders, and the gaming world, which is rendered in the glorious high-def CGI which will convince Pixar fans this is one of their films.
In fact it was produced by Disney itself and directed by Rich Moore, a veteran of Futurama and The Simpsons, and if you listen closely you’ll notice a few familiar voices he has brought along for the ride.
The titular Ralph is a nice guy stuck in a bad guy’s skin, complete with comically oversized hands, and longs for fulfilment in his monotonous life. The beauty of the concept is that children and adults alike can relate to feeling stuck in a rut, whether it’s just being sick of school on a Friday afternoon, or feel like the world is against you as plans continuously fall through at work.
John C. Reilly plays the role to a tee, with Sarah Silverman providing excellent ingredients for double-act moments, and surprisingly there are moments where you begin to tear up as difficult choices have to be made. Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Death at a Funeral) channels the Mad Hatter, with a dash of Tigger, to create giggling eccentric King Candy as the film’s antagonist, and is endlessly entertaining. The rest of the supporting cast perform well but don’t stand out so much, particularly with all the cameos wrestling for your attention.
The plot is as straightforward as you might expect from a Disney flick, but with equal parts action and heart, and plenty to keep you engaged for the almost two-hour run time.
Disney are clearly at the top of their game once again with this effort, with the visuals alone a step up from 2010’s Tangled. This film carries the sort of weight you would expect from a series a few iterations down the line, so you can expect sequels to follow.
The team unashamedly throw in product placements left, right and centre, but due to the nature of the world they inhabit, they don’t feel out of place or forced at any point.
In all, this film is made for gamers, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t consider yourself in that geeky camp. There is more than enough to appreciate with identifiable characters and familiar concepts, beautifully realised with style.
James Michael Parry