Level Zero to Arcade Hero: Wreck-It-Ralph Review

When I first caught wind of Wreck-It-Ralph, I was immediately marveled by the idea of seeing some of gaming’s biggest faces from my distant youth finally sharing the same space, no matter how brief the moments would be. Additionally, with some of Disney‘s brightest minds on board for this ambitious project, I was ready to walk out of the theater thoroughly pleased Sunday, and that’s exactly what happened. The plot was rock solid. The good guys were endearing and there were more than enough homages to the retro gaming community. While some were obvious such as the character directly featured with spoken lines (Zangief, Sonic, etc.), a lot of references were directed towards late 80’s/early 90’s gamers.

Ralph at the Bad Guys Anonymous meeting accompanied by Bowser, (M. Bison (Street Fighter), and even Smoke (Mortal Kombat)!

The narrative follows Ralph, a weary, good-natured “bad guy” living in an arcade machine called Fix-I-Felix Jr. Outcasted by the rest of the game’s inhabitants and eager to prove his worth as a hero rather than a villain, he sets out to claim recognition via a medal. Naturally things don’t go as planned, causing him to end up in the vibrant, colorful cabinet of Sugar Rush. Meeting Vanellope shortly afterwards, the odd pair begin to bond as Ralph discovers just what it means to be a “good guy”. Meanwhile, Felix Jr and Sgt. Calhoun, played by Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch respectively, team up to find Ralph and prevent their worlds from suffering the ultimate Game Over.

Speaking more on the original characters standing at the heart of the plot, they were clearly well crafted not only in terms of animation but in concept as well. Each has layers to them which manages to stir genuine heartfelt emotions when the audience gets to peel away and take a deeper look. For instance, Vanellope von Schweetz comes off as a smart-mouth, crude brat when first interacting with Ralph. After learning about her “glitchy” nature and reasons for wanting to enter Sugar Rush’s races I couldn’t help but feel her sadness when things starting going sour. Extra kudos go to Sarah Silverman and the rest of the cast for truly bringing these characters to life.

From left to right: Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) and Wreck It Ralph (John C. Riley).

All and all, Wreck-It-Ralph was pure awesome and filled to the brim with entertaining, clever and funny moments. There’s definitely that uniquely Disney touch that you’d expect to find to entice little children but adults and seasoned gamers alike will get an absolute kick out of this film. After all, who knew that after a long day of shoryuken’s Ryu heads to the local digital bar for a drink. Or better yet, a well-known floating yellow ball likes to get his grove on at parties DJ’d by Skrillex; which by the way, the soundtrack is surprisingly high above the usual fair.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0wdx_dLBKc&w=560&h=315]

How often do you hear a Japanese idol group performing the theme for a American animated, full length feature film? The variety found in this score is something rare considering the movie’s predecessors. In fact as CJP can attest to, I openly stated how impressed I was with the soundtrack more than once during the viewing. It’s just one more point to add to the slew of reasons not miss out on this masterpiece. Considering everything said, Wreck-It-Ralph is definitely a contender for film of the year. Retro gaming bliss assured!

Apparently the times that befell Q’bert and his pals were harder than we thought…

Alright folks, now that you’ve read this go and see the movie so we can get a sequel!