Smack, bang, wallop, Disney have done it again with Wreck-it Ralph. Back when computer animation was nothing but a mere pipe dream until John Lasseter and Pixar came along we were treated with some spectacular classics. Snow White, Dumbo, The Jungle Book while all considered worthy of a re-release they don’t offer anything new. I can admire the nostalgia and desire of Disney officials to relaunch the classic age of Disney animation but unfortunately it falls short in the wake of modern box office hits such as Frozen and until Wreck-it Ralph Disney was living in the shadow of Pixar studios when it should have been the other way around given Disney’s track record and their contractual relationship
With the lion’s share of Disney’s animated feature films diametrically swinging away from Simba, with their tried and tested romantic fantasy worlds full of toadstools, fireflies, and fancy ball gowns there was room for something unfamiliar. Although technically a Pixar film, later being bought buy Disney in 2006, Toy Story was exactly what the industry needed. Something fresh and something relatable. Toy Story deserves its own page let alone review so I won’t go into too much detail, like I need to anyway, but what Toy Story achieved was remarkable, and if you haven’t seen The Pixar Story documentary yet I highly recommend it, in fact it’s on Netflix so this review kind of kills two birds with one stone. Shout out to the RSPB.
Back in 1995 I was three years old. 3. Come 2010 my childhood heroes in Woody and Buzz had almost let the fame get the better of them. With an egotistical plethora of replicas finding their way into Christmas stockings I can guarantee at least one child out their was willing his toys to come alive. But it wasn’t to be, at least not for me anyway. As 2010 came and went there was all at once an emptiness about animation on that fateful day Andy left for college and also an opportunity. An all too familiar situation that everyone of us has been through in some form or another left a hole that suggested someone actually had poisoned the water hole. But never fear for in 2012 Disney managed to escape the rut of recent releases such as Bolt, The Princess and the Frog and Meet the Robinsons, and rekindle the Pixar magic of 1995.
Wreck-it Ralph, ahhh the wondrous den of geek (no relation) tells the story of the eponymous Wreck-it Ralph, the villain in a popular arcade game ‘Fix-It Felix, Jr.’ in which Felix, the hero, plays the titular character. The premise is fairly straightforward, Ralph wrecks an apartment building and playing as Felix your job is to fix everything he wrecks. Not merely artificial renderings confined by code and the payment of a quarter each character fulfills their duty for the day, acting out the players’ controls until the doors are closed. Upon which the arcade comes to life in the brilliantly named Game Central Station with references and cameo springing up all over the place. With gaming references galore this is no animation to scoff at if you are geek inclined. References to the classics of Pacman and Mario are predominant but even Metal Gear Solid makes a cameo appearance !
Ralph understands his place in the game world as a villain but outside of the game world he wants to be treated as an equal. There is even a villain support group dedicated to discontented villains such as Ralph which amusingly is run by Clyde, the orange ghost from Pacman. Unfortunately for Ralph the Nicelanders, the residents of the apartment block he destroys, only see Ralph as the bad guy which is a little harsh. If anything Ralph’s existence is extremely one dimensional, purely to make Felix look good and the Nicelanders treatment of him is utterly superfluous. After all they need Ralph just as much as they need Felix but they fail to see that. Everyday Ralph has to watch Felix’s medal ceremony as he is thrown from the building in the closing stages of the game, not really something the gamer would take notice of but Ralph sees the same thing over and over again and his patience begins to wane. Unfortunately for him medals aren’t awarded to the bad guys and in an act of desperation he searches the lost and found of Tapper’s. In a fortunate encounter with a character from ‘Hero’s Duty’ Ralph’s chance of winning a medal couldn’t be clearer. Impersonate this character and win a medal from a different game. All he has to do is kill some bugs, easy really. Drastically underestimating the monumentality of the task at hand his desire for a medal clouds his judgement and leads to an unfortunate series of events that dump him in Sugar Rush, a game that will come to re-define Ralph’s image of himself and enlighten those that discredit him to his true value.
Oddly enough for a film with a soundtrack that only called on six outside tracks it was the soundtrack that actually let it down. Granted Rihanna’s ‘Shut up and Drive’ was fitting for Vanellope’s driving montage but it felt a bit forced where a tailored track would have suited the feel of the film much better. Don’t even get me started on Skrillex’s inclusion, another one of those moments that tried way too hard to please the pre-pubescent hordes of children who think dubstep will get them likes on their facebook accounts. If I had another blog for everything I despise in this world then children on facebook would be up there on my wrecking list alongside poverty and disease.
Soundtrack issues aside Wreck-it Ralph is a Brilliant film, well animated and enough adult themes and gaming references for a number of different generations to make an all round crowd pleaser. As the lovechild of Jonathan Ross and the Beastie Boys would say, “Wreck-wr-wreck-wreck-wreck-ah wreck it out.“
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