The challenge of making a film based on the video game is fitting in all the elements and themes of the game into a film format. You aren’t in control of the game, the writers and directors are. And that is one of the main reasons why films based on video games fail, because so much of it fails to meet the expectations of its fans. So using a script written by Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston, director Rich Moore gave us Wreck-It Ralph, a film that isn’t based on a particular video game, but uses familiar elements and themes from popular video games. As a result Wreck-It Ralph is one wonderful and spectacular video game movie that can’t be missed. Hit the jump for the full review.
The film centers on a large brutish 8-bit video game character named Ralph, who is the villain of the Fix-It Felix Jr. coin-op arcade game. Tired of being defeated over and over again by Fix-It Felix, Ralph seeks out to be the hero for once. To prove that he is a hero, Ralph decides to go game hopping. However his absence from his home game could force the owner to pull the plug on it, forcing the other game sprites to be without a home. Ralph’s foreign presence also causes problems to the other games, which could in turn affect the entire arcade itself.
The concept of a villain wanting to become a hero isn’t entirely new. However the fact that the film is based on a video game is appealing. Not only do we not have to worry about the writers and directors trying to get every single nod and aspect of a character right, but we can enjoy the movie for what it is. The fact that there are characters from Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Namco, and other tech companies are interacting with each other on a daily basis are just an added bonus and makes the movie feel like the video game version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Wreck-It Ralph is filled with comedy, heart, color, and some sprinkles of drama. But not all films are perfect; in fact Wreck-It Ralph was teetering on the edge of being one of the best films of the year. The issue with the film is that there will be a misconception that you have to understand the video game world to understand the film itself.
While there are many nods to various video game characters, sounds, and actions, they are nothing more than just that, nods, and all of it appears within the first act of the film. So don’t worry if you don’t know the large spiked shelled turtle who can spit out fire, the orange ghost who can turn blue, or Qubert. Believe me, all of that is just fun filled cameo stuff for the hardcore gamers. The real film lies within the second and third acts.
The thing that keeps Wreck-It Ralph in check are the perimeters that are set for its characters. Everything from declarations of cherries to dying outside of your game is explained. These rules and regulations make the story more interesting to the viewer as these characters try to abide by them. The best thing about it, you see every video game character live by the laws of the arcade and what happens to the sprites if they die or get involved with the affairs of other arcade machines.
The humor in the film isn’t all video game related. In fact there are enough goofs and gags to go around for all members of the audience. The film has heart as well, and what kind of Disney animated film doesn’t have heart? This leads up the other slight problem. It’s predictability. But that can be overlooked because you’re just in so deep in laughter.
John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman provide the bulk of the humor in the film. You can tell the two had so much chemistry while recording their dialogue for the film. The two are constantly bantering and trading off quips in the film that you might need to watch it a second time to catch some of the stuff you missed. Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer also provide some hilarious romantic comedy.
The unfortunate thing about this film is that you don’t hear much of the Skrillex track that was used for the Hero’s Duty portion of the film. Still Henry Jackson did a fine job of composing the score for the film, and AKB48’s Sugar Rush song is very catchy.
So if you are not a video game fan or don’t play any console or computer games, give Wreck-It Ralph a chance, you will be pleasantly surprised that you did, and if you love video games, enjoy all the nods to coin-op arcade games. Video game fans, I also urge you to stay throughout the entire film as there is something after the credits that you have to see to believe.