Movie review: Wreck-It Ralph - video game villains

Published: March 18, 2013

Don’t be put off by the trailers: the movie is very accessible, even to those who know nothing about video games.

Wreck-It Ralph is the story of Ralph (John C. Reilly), the bad guy in the arcade game ‘Fix-It Felix Jr’. Unfortunately, because of his villainous status, Ralph is ignored and feared by the other video game characters and has to live in a dump full of bricks. Ralph is sick of being a villain and longs to be like the perfect good guy, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer). At some point, he realises that winning a medal is the only way to fame. After a brief spell in a sci-fi shoot-em up, he meets Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), a ‘glitching’ character who is not allowed to race, in the kiddie friendly ‘Sugar Rush’. Together they make a deal: if Ralph helps Vanellope enter a race, she will win him the medal he is so desperately after.

The film is careful with the use of the bevy of real-world video game characters it managed to license. While many gamers will easily recognise Bowser, Dr Robotnik, Zangief, and the Pac-man from the opening scenes, the real fun is in spotting the countless “blink and you’ll miss it” cameos. If you look closely, you can spot Street Fighter’s Chun Li, an “exclamation point” icon from Metal Gear Solid and “Aerith Lives”, a reference to Final Fantasy VII,  scrawled on one of the walls.

The top-notch animation of Wreck-It Ralph feels like a Pixar creation but it was made by Disney Animation Studios. What really sets the movie apart is the different styles of animation used in the different games. ‘Fix-It Felix Jr’ is an 8-bit game and so all the characters move in stuttered pixellated spurts. Their legs don’t move and they bounce around in an abrupt, hilarious way. In the sci-fi shooter ‘Hero’s Duty’ everyone is real life proportioned, while in overly-sweet ‘Sugar Rush’ all the characters are like miniature Bratz dolls.

The voice acting is superb. Reilly is perfect as the hulking Ralph and Silverman is great as the sweet but sassy Vanellope. If you are a fan of 30 Rock, you will instantly recognise Felix as Kenneth Parcell the NBC Page. Jane Lynch steals the film as the no-nonsense bossy, space marine sergeant.

Wreck-It Ralph is a great film for the family. The plot might be a little predictable but there is a twist in the end which will really throw you off. Stick around for the closing credits as it features the heroes popping up in several classic games. It is truly worth the quarters.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, March 17th, 2013.

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