Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph
By Edwin Davies
November 6, 2012
Fix-It Felix Jr. has the simple design and limited colours of an 8-bit arcade game, Hero's Duty is nothing but dark greens, browns and eerie lighting, whilst Sugar Rush is a glorious assault of pinks and extravagant curves to accommodate its different tracks. (Not to mention, since everything in its world is based on different sweets and treats, candy-based puns.) Whilst some parts of the film suffer due to their environments - the Hero's Duty segment, in particular, is a little too frenetic to be funny - the attention to detail is undeniably impressive. There's also a strong focus on the rigid rules that govern videogames, and how even those who try to subvert them are still controlled by them to an extent.
In the process, this demonstrates that the people involved in making the film really know and love those games. There's a real sense that director Rich Moore and his team have paid a huge amount of attention not only to cramming the frame with background jokes and overt references to famous games, they've also paid attention to little details like having all the supporting characters in Fix-It Felix Jr. move in the jerky style of 8-bit games, even when they aren't being animated in that style. It's a small detail, but one that is indicative of the care that has gone into every aspect of the film. All of this combines to create a film which is packed with smart, funny moments that will leave gamers feeling all gooey and nostalgic inside.
Yet Wreck-It Ralph is not just an opportunity for children of the '80s and '90s to indulgence their well-established penchant for retrophilia and nostalgia. Much like Toy Story, its most obvious forebear, the wry jokes based on recognizable characters - or at least character types - from popular culture are built upon a solid, warm and heartfelt story. At its core, Wreck-It Ralph is the story of someone hoping for something better. It's a sweet movie that never becomes too sugary - quite an achievement considering about half of it takes place in a world that is literally made of candy - because it couches its emotion in adventure and excitement, but those elements do not occlude its essentially good nature.
Even though its very premise allows it to be visually exuberant and inventive, it never loses sight of the fact that it's about a bad guy who is tired of being bad. That's a poignant idea which makes the central relationship works, and which ultimately helps make Wreck-It Ralph the best animated film you're likely to see this year.