Loving video games, especially retro ones as much as I do, Disney's Wreck-It Ralph was something I had been anticipating for some time. So, after its November 2nd release, I did not waste much time in getting my kids to the theater on Saturday to see it. I was not disappointed and I'll explain below why you won't be either.
The Plus Side: Like the Pixar releases before it, Wreck-It Ralph is visually amazing. The colors are vivid, the animation smooth, the characters realistic looking (Volkswagon-sized fists or not) and the backgrounds sprawling and downright artistic. As with so many films before it, Disney has made the 3D worth the extra cost with this one.
On top of being visually stunning, the story sets up a video game universe that you believe (not literally) and understand without much explanation. Game characters play their Toy-Story-esque roles during the day then travel through the power cables of their cabinets into the surge protectors (like a train station, one of my favorite images of the film) at night to socialize. While there are a few made up games (Fix-It Felix Jr., Sugar Rush, Hero's Duty and Turbo Racer), the film pays homage to a great deal of old school games in ways that make you laugh. Q-Bert, Sonic, Street Fighter, Pac-Man, Mario Bros. and more are all referenced. Many of them gather at Tapper's for a drink after a long day. The story also keeps you guessing and while you might guess where it's taking you, I for one was surprised by the emergence of the true villain, a plot technique I am not accustomed to with animated features.
The movie is both hilarious and heart warming. You laugh on a regular basis at subtle references as well as slapstick. The jokes are quick, clever and clean and the action keeps them moving along. The moral of the story, like most Disney films, is impossible to miss and sappy as it is (I'm beginning to wonder about Disney's portrayal of their characters willingly facing death) it will still bring a tear to your hear and make to jump in your seat a little at its conclusion.
The Down Side: Your kids won't get all the video game references in the film unless they have had some extensive retro game education. You may find yourself leaning over to explain a joke or tell your kids who that guy is. Or, like me, you may distract yourself by laughing and shaking your head at the inclusion of a particularly obscure eight bit character barely visible in the corner of a shot.
Other than that, not much is wrong, annoying or frustrating about this movie. It's an overall enjoyable experience to watch it.
The Wrap Up: Go see this movie. You and your kids or whoever's kids you might take to see it will enjoy it. This is Disney at its best with a memorable, funny romp for all ages unfolding on the screen.
And while you're at it, fork over the extra few bucks for the 3D. The action and the colors jumping off the screen are amazing and fun.