I can best describe Wreck It Ralph by taking liberties with a line from the film – ” Its like Toy Story and The Matrix got together and had a baby”. The action takes place in a gaming arcade where “retro classics” like Pac Man stand side by side with cutting edge newcomers such as “Hero’s Duty”. The real fun begins when the arcade closes and the electronic game characters come alive, much like the toys in Toy Story. These characters can leap frog from one game to another through the wiring but they must return to their own game by the time the arcade reopens in the morning.
We meet Wreck It Ralph addressesing a meeting of Bad Anon, a support group for the “bad” guys of the arcade. We learn that Ralph is lonely and despondent having spent thirty years playing the role of “wrecker” in the game Fix It Felix Jnr. Long term gamers will recognize this as being based on Donkey Kong. Despite being critical to the game’s success, Ralph is ostracized and made to sleep in a garbage dump whilst the hero Felix receives respect, admiration and home baked goodies.
Insult is added to injury when Ralph returns home from his BA meeting to find the Fix It Felix crew having a lavish 30th anniversary party without inviting him. In disgust Ralph gatecrashes the soiree and the ensuing fracas prompts him to take the drastic step of game hopping in order to earn a medal and prove his true worth. This quest sets off a chaotic chain of events which threaten to lay waste to the entire arcade. Its up to Ralph to uncover the “hero within” and save the day.
The gaming arcade is fresh territory for a family movie. It gives the animators license to have a field day and they create some truly stunning cyber-scapes. The “Hero’s Duty” universe is dark and foreboding parodying the futuristic first person “shoot ‘em up” gaming genre. “Sugar Rush”, where most of the action takes place, is an over the top world built entirely from lollies – it’s enough to send even Willy Wonka into a diabetic coma.
The movie is crammed with references to classic games, most of which went over my head. However even I recognized the leader of BA as the ghost from Pac Man. The good news is that you don’t have to be a gaming nerd to enjoy this film. The pace is cracking, the dialogue witty and the characters endearing. There’s jokes a plenty, a touch of romance and a suspenseful car chase scene. More importantly the film has moments of genuine poignancy as well as hilarity. In fact the climatic scene where Ralph willingly sacrifices himself by causing a mountain of mentos to avalanche into a Coca Cola lake contains both.
I don’t think its spoiling things to say that Ralph comes out on top. He wins the respect and camaraderie he’d always yearned for and discovers that being a “bad guy” doesn’t necessarily have to be so bad. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Ralph. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Disney regames him with a sequel. I’d be happy to play again.
Mumabulous Verdict: 9/10
A wonderful family film for the school holidays. Its enjoyable for all ages, even my three year old sat through the two hour running time only complaining once. No gaming knowledge is required but gamers will get just that little bit more from the experience.
That was the best kid’s movie EVAH! When can we see it again.
No I don’t need to go the twoilet.