Wreck-it-Ralph! Video-games coming to life!

The idea of this world is similar to Toy Story, but instead of toys coming to life when the humans aren’t watching, it’s the video-game characters in an arcade. In one of the arcade games, “Fix-it-Felix Jr.”, the villain of the game, Wreck-it-Ralph, is tired of being the villain as he’s always treated as, what else?, a villain. He wants the same respect and recognition as the heroes in the games, so he goes off to another game to get his own medal like Felix gets in his game. Ralph manages to get one in “Hero’s Duty”, except something goes wrong and he’s transported to another game called “Sugar Rush” where he loses his medal. He also encounters a glitch named Vanellope von Schweetz who wants to race in the game and become part of the main cast. They make the deal that if he helps her make a kart to race in the game, she’ll try to win and get back his medal.

I had a lot of fun watching Wreck-it-Ralph. It was so much fun, so inventive, funny and… well… ok, I’ll review it now.

I can’t really comment too much on voice acting in the original language, because I saw it in Spanish (long story). It’s a shame, because this was a great cast: John C. Riley as Ralph, Sara Silverman as Vanellope, Jack McBrayer as Fix-it-Felix, and especially Jane Lynch as Sergeant Calhoun (and it’s funny that they sorta modeled the character after her). All seemed like a really good cast, based on the clips and trailers I’ve seen of them, and I would have probably enjoyed their performances if I watched the movie in English.

Now comes the video-game aspect. I don’t play video-games, but I’ve played a few (enough to know that I suck at video-games) and I’m familiar with a lot of them to know most of the in-jokes and the rest of the references. Although you don’t have to know a whole lot of video-games in order to enjoy this movie, which is a huge advantage. They really make you feel involved in this world without you needing to do any research or anything. The real video-game characters aren’t actually the main focus in the actual plot. In fact, they’re not in there for very long (also, it’s amazing how many actually characters they could get the rights to, like in Who Framed Roger Rabbit… actually in that sense, the film is kinda like Roger Rabbit), but it’s still refreshing to see them there anyway. The film emphasises more on the made-up video-game characters and made-up games, but it celebrates video-games as it should. Video-game fans are gonna feel overjoyed when they see cameos of video-game characters, but I guess they might feel a bit upset when they find out later that there isn’t many video-game characters as the advertising for the film suggested. Anyway, I thought the way they established this universe was very funny and clever. Every moment I was shouting out at the screen “That’s a great idea!” or “That is so cool!” Like the first-person game “Hero’s Duty” where they use a robot to simulate the person’s movements inside the game. I thought that was freaking ingenious! And the game “Sugar Rush”, which is like a mix of Mario Kart and a Japanese video-game, looked really inventive and looked like a game I wanted to play. That’s the word I’m looking for: inventive.

When I imagine myself working on an animated film, I’d love to work in the creative process, in the writing and in the visuals. The reason why I love cartoon characters is because their personalities stand out much more, and the reason why I love animation is because you can really play with imagery, the worlds you create, the visuals and details, and really play with space and time in ways your mind can imagine. Sometimes watching animated films with fantastic visuals and fun stories remind me of why I’d love to work in animation. This is one of these films. I want to have fun in the creative process of an animated film (so that’s two words I’m looking for: fun and inventive). The makers of this film most likely had tons of fun creating this world as well as the characters in them during the development of the film. The visuals were very colorful and incredibly detailed, and the 3-D was done so well that it felt like the colors and stuff were popping out. Like the whole universe had dimension. Actually, when I think about it, we spend more time in “Sugar Rush” that the other games, so the animators also had tons of focus in the candy-themed world, which was also fun and inventive. There’s one Diet Coke and Mentos thing that they do, which I won’t give away, but just to say that I liked the idea. What about the story and characters?

I liked the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope, and I liked the relationship between Felix and the Sergeant where they’re given a “love story” angle. Although the story’s supposed to be about Ralph, we later focus more on the story going on in the game “Sugar Rush” (most of the focus is there) and Vanellope trying to race in the game. Ralph is an ok character (“likeable-enough” is what I mean), but it almost felt as if the story was a bit more about Vanellope at times, and I cared a bit more about her than I did about Ralph. That may be a bit problematic, BUT the plot always managed to move to Ralph’s storyline just in the nick of time, so I think it makes up for it. It is about Ralph helping Vanellope, but also about him wanting to feel appreciated. He’s the antagonist of a video-game, and people are either scared of him or don’t like him. Ralph feels like being the villain won’t have anyone appreciating him, but what Ralph doesn’t realise and what the other characters of “Fix-it-Felix Jr.” don’t realise is that Ralph is a VERY important part of the game. Without him destroying buildings, Felix wouldn’t have anything to fix. In other words, there’s no game for the player to play (and they particularly present that in one scene). After Ralph had left, that made the people from the real world think that the video-game was broken. Ralph soon realises that he does fulfil an important role in his game and in the end the video-game characters from “Fix-it-Felix Jr.” understand how nice he actually is. Destroying buildings is not who he really is. It’s just the role he was programmed to do in the game. The idea of these character arcs is about understanding the role you play in a game: what they’re programmed to do and fulfil in the game. Every character’s motivation tied-in to this theme very well. The video-game characters can’t just think about what they’re fulfilling for themselves. They have to also consider the player itself, because it’s he or she who’s playing the game. I really liked that, because it’s gives us an important message about our lives (I can’t believe I just said that). Just hear me out: when we succeed in our careers by using our talents and skills, we don’t measure our success on how much we fulfil for ourselves, but how much we fulfil for others. Or maybe I’m just overanalysing, but that’s my interpretation.

The story overall is very simple, but what makes it so engaging is the universe, and how they play with the whole idea of a video-game world coming to life: the story and video-game world tied in with each other harmoniously. One of my favourite parts of the film was when they made fun of the whole “tragic backstory” of a video-game character (it’s one of my favourite jokes ever): I won’t give it away, but it has to do with Sergeant Calhoun’s backstory. I couldn’t help but laugh! Because the film doesn’t have a lot of clichés, it’s easy for the film to give us one surprise after another. Especially the twist of the villain, which REALLY took me off-guard. It was either because it was done well, or because I’m an idiot who did not see that coming at me. I dunno, my sister didn’t see it coming either, so that’s fine. I guess I was so engaged with their world that I didn’t see the twist coming, so that’s a possibility.

So the story did leave me with one surprise after another, in its story and in its world. The story is simple and well-paced, and every element cleverly ties in with each other and fits into place in the story when it needs to be. There’s no pointless moment or anything, and everything else is a very good reference to a real video-game.

Whether you love video-games or don’t know much about them, you’re gonna enjoy this movie. They don’t focus too much on references (which might upset some video-game fans) and instead on the characters, and what the universe and story has to offer. I haven’t seen a film that celebrated the video-game world since Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (sorta). Again, Wreck-it-Ralph is fun and inventive, the story’s handled well, the animation is detailed and creative, the characters are likeable, and it’s just awesome. I say go check it out if you just wanna have fun.

One last thing: like Pixar films showing a short before the feature film, we get a short called Paperman. It’s a short and sweet love story, the music is also adorable, and I love how they blended traditional animation with computer animation.