Well, I thought I should write a review of Disney’s latest animated film, Wreck-it Ralph, so that I can say that I have reviewed all the official animated Disney films for the Disneython. I finished the Disneython before this film was released, but I feel I would be leaving it out, so I’ll write this review, put it in my ranking, and then feel better about myself. And so, because I want to review all the films, this means that I will have to review every future animated film Disney releases, which I’m fine with…just expect them to be a little late, as proven here.
So Wreck-it Ralph had been a developing idea at Disney since the late 1980’s, which is ironic in its comparison to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the Disney/Touchstone film released in 1988. As well as the film being compared to Roger Rabbit, it has also been compared to Toy Story, for the same reason: the story of Wreck-it Ralph takes place in a world where pre-existing characters make cameos and interact with original characters, though more so in Roger Rabbit. In this case, Wreck-it Ralph takes place in the video game world, where pre-existing video game characters appear all over the place. …And this was quite a strong marketing point for this film: in most of the trailers, it showed a lot of the video game characters’ appearances, and famous characters were on almost every poster. But hey, it must have worked, because Wreck-it Ralph was a big success commercially. It got a lot of ages in; it brought families in obviously, because it’s a Disney animated film, but it also brought the gaming audience in, who were generally older being fans of the older video games. It was an all-round crowd-pleaser, and a reminder that Disney’s animated films are still keeping a golden streak.
When the video game store closes, all the video game characters come to life, and go about their own lives in the video game world. The game Fix-it Felix Jr. is turning 30 years old, and its main antagonist, Wreck-it Ralph, is sick and tired of being the ‘bad guy’, so decides to jump into another game to obtain a medal, to prove he can be a ‘good guy’. However, as soon as he gets the medal in one world, he loses it in another, thanks to a glitchy character called Vanellope, but the two make a deal to help each other out to get what they want. Meanwhile, Fix-it Felix, along with another game character Sgt. Calhoun, must find Ralph and stop a threat that he has started that could affect the entire video game world.
Even though I’m a huge Disney fan, I wasn’t exactly interested in this film, probably because it was so focused on gaming. I’m not a big gamer at all; I know who Sonic is, and I’ve played Pac-man and Mario Kart, but that’s it. To be honest, I thought Fix-it Felix Jr. was a real game, and this was an adaptation. But no, it is an original story, and I did end up seeing the film anyway; after the Disneython, I think it’s only fair to see every future animated Disney film now.
So you know how I said that video game characters appear in this film, and that they were used to market the film? Yeah, they don’t appear through the entire film; it’s really only in the first act that we see video game cameos and in-jokes. Once Ralph leaves his game, the film focuses more on its own original characters and settings. Which is good for me, because So I didn’t really get the in-jokes, didn’t really recognise the characters, but I could still enjoy it. In fact, I love the original characters. I love Ralph, I think he’s an extremely likeable main character; yes, he is your typical Disney protagonist – screwing things up, but he has a good heart – however this protagonist has a label of being the ‘bad guy’, which not many other Disney characters have had; you’re either a good guy or a bad guy, normally. He seemed to be reminding me of Shrek, though I like Ralph way more than him. He’s determined in what he wants, he has flaws and he’s very sympathetic – and voiced really well by John C. Reilly; with his voice fitting the appearance of the character, it just feels absolutely perfect.
But I think my favourite characters are Fix-it Felix and Sgt. Calhoun. They are a fantastic pair together: really funny, really cute, and I would have happily watched more scenes with them, but of course, they’re only supporting characters. We might actually get more of them though, because apparently there’s going to be a sequel to Wreck-it Ralph, which I really don’t want, no matter how much I like this movie. I think I probably like Felix a little bit more than Calhoun, but only because there’s more of him in the film. You know how I love my nice guys, and Felix is a nice guy – and he’s really cute and a total romantic. He’s almost like the typical Disney prince, where everything he does is perfect, and he always saves the day. But I really like how they show that being perfect doesn’t always help things, in that scene where Felix is locked in the ‘fungeon’, tries to break the bars but only makes them thicker; it also kind of shows that he shouldn’t be doing what he isn’t meant for, and to simply be yourself, which is a running theme with Ralph’s character too.
So the original characters are great, I love the main characters…except for one, and that is Vanellope, who has gotten a mixed reaction from audiences. People either love or hate this character, and I…don’t hate her, but I am not a fan. Disney has had their obnoxious sidekick characters in the past, and Vanellope is certainly one of those, though more in the vein of obnoxious child sidekick, like Koda in Brother Bear. She’s meant to be cute, but I just find her annoying; I find obnoxious over-confident kids annoying in general, so not much was going to make me like her. Her voice doesn’t help, either: I’m not familiar with Sarah Silverman, but she really didn’t need to put on that voice for Vanellope; it just adds to her annoying-ness. And with Vanellope comes the kiddie humour. I mean, really kiddie humour. I mean, an entire joke about the word ‘duty’ sounding like ‘doodie’. Kids like poop jokes. There’s also Ralph and Vanellope calling each other names, and the kids like that, too; I think kids like Vanellope a lot, but I wouldn’t know because I don’t spend a lot of time around kids.
And it’s a shame that the kiddie humour is in here, for a film with such an interesting and clever premise, and ideas. Mentioning comparisons again, the beginning of this film did remind me of Toy Story: when the game store closes and the people go away, the video game characters come to life and live within their game settings. I really like the idea that characters can travel across to different games via ‘trains’, and there’s a big train Central station where video game characters are walking around; the train line is literally through the wire of the game that plugs it in, so it comes off as the characters literally travelling through the wire at their size, and the Central Station is the socket. The gaming worlds are very creative, particularly Sugar Rush; I liked how they created that world and the game itself, with the sweets and everything; that’s one game I would play! The animation is also very good too, as Disney animation always is. Now, unlike Tangled, Disney’s last CGI-animated feature that totally could have been traditionally-animated, Wreck-it Ralph works as a CGI-animated film mainly because it’s involving video games, and the CGI is able to create the right visual effects that would appear in a video game that traditional animation mightn’t be able to do; for example, whenever Vanellope ‘glitches’, I really like that effect, but it’s obviously very computerised, and so the computer can create that and make it look great. Another bit of animation I like, though it is sometimes jarring, is how the Nicelanders in the Fix-it Felix Jr. game move like 8-bit video game characters. You could probably animate this by hand, but I don’t think it would be able to re-create that movement as well as the computer. It does get jarring though, because Ralph and Felix aren’t animated as 8-bit characters, and so them mingling in with the Nicelanders looks a bit odd.
Overall: Disney’s still going strong. Another great animated film of this supposed new Renaissance, that not only feels like a Disney film, but a Pixar film too (I know, rather ironic as all Pixar films are technically Disney films). Great premise and ideas, great characters (for the most part), it’s funny (for the most part), and it’s got heart too; it’s a welcome addition to the Disney canon.