Friday, November 2, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph [2012]

MPAA (PG)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  Roger Ebert (3 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review
Roger Ebert's review

Wreck-It Ralph (directed by Rich Moore, screenplay by Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston with additional input by John C. Reilly) is IMHO the best original animated feature to come out of the United States since I began my blog (admittedly only two years ago).  It is the first such American film that's not a sequel that could be put in the same league as animated features like Finding Nemo [2003], Wall-E [2008], Kung Fu Panda [2008], Up [2009], How to Train Your Dragon [2010] or Despicable Me [2010].  Honestly, while it's been only two years that I've been writing this blog, I've found them, by and large, absolutely dismal when it comes to children's animated films.  Yes, there was the remake of Winnie the Pooh [2011] last year and the adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax [2012] this year.  And there was The Secret World of Arrietty [2010] (which actually came from Japan's Studio Ghibli) and there was Toy Story 3 [2010] that came out in the summer before I started my blog.  But my gosh SINCE THEN it's been awful: Mars Needs Moms [2011]Hop [2011], Hoodwinked 2 [2011], even Happy Feet 2 [2011].  So I found Wreck-It Ralph, perhaps a younger more straight forward distant cousin of Tron [1982, 2010] a breath of fresh air.

What's it about?  Well like those Tron movies, Wreck-It Ralph takes place inside the world of video games specifically within the video games of one arcade.  Kinda like in those Tron movies, the characters (if not the programs themselves, as in the more complicated Tron movies) in those video games are imagined to be alive inside those games.  And once one makes "the leap" that the characters in video games are "alive" and living in those video games then one can imagine the stories that can ensue ...

Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the villain in a video game called "Fix-it Felix."  Ralph is a big lumbering blue collar "King Kong" like character who climbs a big multi-story building and breaks things, while Felix (a "Super Mario like character is voiced by Jack McBrayer) is the hero that the building's residents (called "Nicelanders") call to fix the things that Ralph breaks.  When Felix fixing everything and catches up to Ralph, the Nicelanders cheer and throw Ralph off the building into a giant puddle of mud (and the game presumably proceeds to a new level ...).

Well after 30 years of this, Ralph is tired of being "the bad guy" and feels unappreciated.  To his horror, he finds that he's not even invited to the "30th anniversary party" that the Nicelanders throw in honor of Felix (for keeping their building in tip-top shape for 30 years, despite the best efforts of the evil and destructive Ralph).  When Ralph confronts the Nicelanders about why they never invite him to anything, they tell him that they'll _never_ honor him unless he "wins a medal" for something.  But he can _never_ get a medal for anything in this game because he's programmed to break things while Felix (who keeps winning medals) is programmed to fix them.

So one day, Ralph decides to travel down the electrical wires that do (kinda) connect the video games to each other, to go to "Grand Game Central (station)" and "jump" games, to see if he could find a more rewarding destiny elsewhere.

He first jumps into a game called "Heroes Duty" where he joins a platoon of scifi warriors led by Sgt Calhoun (voiced by Jane Lynch) tasked to destroy an invasion of "sci-birds," to climb up to their nest and destroy their eggs before they hatch a new generation of them.  He actually succeeds in reaching the nest and is solemnly awarded a medal which he hopes to happily take home to the "Nicelanders" so that they would finally respect him.

However ... as he sets out to go back to Grand Game Central again, he gets grabbed by one of the remaining "sci-birds" and who carries him off wildly through Grand Game Central and all the way to another game called "Sugar Rush" a very, very pink and sugary auto racing game (apparently designed to appeal to little girls).

There in the midst of the "Sugar Rush" video game, the "sci-bird" crashes (in a puddle of milk chocolate) and there Ralph, trying to regain his bearings and take his medal back to his home video game enounters another kind of "misfit" character: She's a cute little girl character named Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) who nonetheless is not allowed to "race" in the "Sugar Rush Game" because ... "she's a glitch" (every so often her character seems to sparkle and fade in and out on the screen).  The other characters in her game are terrified that if she's ever allowed to race the humans playing the video game would see her do that (suddenly "fade in and out") and think that something was wrong with the video game and _shut it off_ effectively killing all the game's characters or at least making them "refugees" reduced to hanging around Grand Game Central in hopes of some day getting a new gig ...

In the meantime, the previously happy-go-lucky Fix-it Felix as well as those "Nicelanders" (who previously hated Ralph for constantly trying to wreck their building) find themselves in an "existential crisis" of their own.  Without Ralph there to break their building, there's no reason for Felix to Fix anything and hence kids coming to play the game suddenly find themselves "confused." ("Hey what's the point of this game ... where's the guy who breaks things?")  Seeing something wrong with the game, the arcade owner put the dreaded "Out of Order" sign on the game and the "Nicelanders" find themselves quivering in fear that unless Ralph comes back the arcade owner is going to "unplug" their game as well.

But no fear, "Fix-it Felix," who actually never had anything against Ralph, just saw both him and Ralph simply "doing their jobs" sets off to find Ralph in the midst of the other games of the arcade.

Much of course happens.  And all things end up happily.  We find out, among other things, that cute little Vanellope wasn't initially "a glitch" that someone (some sinister character...) "messed with her programming" ("Ooo...").  Then between "The Destroyer" (Wreck it Ralph) and "The Fixer" (Fix it Felix) the two find that they are able restore order to both the world of "Sugar Rush" and even to Sgt Calhoun who also we're told wasn't _always_ the "blood and guts warrior that she is now" but, in fact, had "the saddest back story of any video game character ever" ("awww..." ;-( 

Again, it all ends well and I honestly marvel at the film's creativity!  Once more, IMHO this is the best _original_ children's animated film to come out of Disney, et al, in years. ;-)

 << NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you ;-) >>  

No comments:

Post a Comment