Wreck-It Ralph REVIEW
Wreck-It Ralph DVD review.
Release Date: 3 June 2013
2012 | PG | 108 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/ £24.99 (Blu-ray)/£24.99 (3D Blu-ray)
Distributor: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Director: Rich Moore
Cast: John C Reilly, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer
Well, here’s a rarity: a movie that improves steadily, climaxing in a breathtaking finale that’s as funny as it is pulse-pounding, but still finds time to find the human story amid the mayhem. (Not that it’s a story about humans, but you get what we mean.) This is a film with heart and soul as well as cracking visuals and plenty of belly laughs. Which these days, of course, means it has to be a CG animated kids’ film.
And it doesn’t have to mean a Pixar film anymore, either (though to be fair, Pixar’s John Lassiter did have a hand in overseeing Ralph). Over the past few years all the other animation studios have upped their game, and while you can argue about whether Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon or Madagascar are better than Pixar films or not, it’s difficult to deny they’re considerably superior to GI Joe, John Carter, that Total Recall remake, A Good Day To Die Hard or any number of other half-baked so-called adult films.
For all CG’s other sins (Jar Jar Binks, surfing Bond, the Scorpion King), it’s certainly inspired a new Golden Age in animation. And Wreck-It Ralph is another gold-winner – which would make Ralph, especially, swell with pride, as a medal is all he wants.
Ralph is the demolition-themed villain in an 8-bit game, Fix-It Felix, that’s so popular that it’s still in an arcade alongside its high-res counterparts decades later. But with age comes existential angst, and Ralph wants to be a good guy, so he sets off to earn himself a medal. He cheats his way to one in a tough, military sci-fi game, Hero’s Duty, but in the process unwittingly unleashes an evil force that threatens the candy-coated world of confectionary car-racing game Sugar Rush.
That may all sound a bit sickly and clichéd, but Wreck-It Ralph does for videogames what Toy Story did for toys. Part of the fun/nostalgia is spotting the familiar games characters (there’s Q*Bert! There are Ken and Ryu!) but there’s so much more to the film than that. Like Toy Story it has two sparring heroes at its core, a supporting cast of quirky, colourful characters, and some superb character-based humour, as well as some slapstick genius. It’s also got a nice line in toilet humour for us Brits, especially a running gag about a certain game’s name (“I bet you really gotta watch where you step in a game called Hero’s Duty!”) – you’ll never be able to play Call Of Duty with a straight face again.
The voice cast may not be quite as starry as Pixar’s finest, but they are all perfect, especially Glee’s Jane Lynch, cast magnificently in-type as an ass-kicking female soldier, who gets to spit out lines like, “It looks like Doomsday and Armageddon just had a baby. And it is ugly.”
The designs are sumptuous and the animation is eye-popping, benefiting from the variety of settings in the various games. But perhaps the most striking visual is “Grand Central Station”, the multi-plug-socket hub that allows all the characters to journey from game to game along the wires. Great idea too.
A bit of a slow burn, Wreck-It Ralph certainly isn’t frontloaded. The longer you watch, the funnier, more bizarre and more exciting it becomes. The bad boy done good.
Although the list of extras on the Blu-ray (rated) and Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray combo seems a bit short, you’re getting quality here rather than quantity.
Admittedly, the lack of a commentary is disappointing, especially as director Rich Moore seems like such an enthusiastic chap in the documentaries. And he does have some limited commentary duties on the alternate and deleted scenes (15 minutes’ worth, including a very bizarre intro). Although these scenes are recreated from storyboards and pre-viz material (so the animation is very basic) they provide a fascinating glimpse at whole storylines that were dropped, not just random scenes. On the other hand, you also get the feeling that the film benefited from excising them and becoming more streamlined and focused.
The 17-minute Making Of documentary, “Bit By Bit”, might seem short compared to some, but it’s exceptionally well put together and packed with intriguing trivia. Did you spot that the puffs of smoke inside Fix-It Felix’s game were square? Or that none of the Fix-It Felix characters ever walked diagonally across a room in their own game? Each of the four game worlds is entertainingly analysed, and the film’s creators are all clearly passionately geeky about the subject matter.
Then there’s a series of faux commercials (three minutes in total) for the various games seen in the film, which are great fun. You also get the wonderful, Oscar-winning animated short “Paperman”, which played in cinemas with Wreck-It Ralph, and which is a mini-masterpiece in itself. Predominantly black and white but with some striking use of spot colour, this story of a man who finds true love thanks to a paper aeroplane is incredibly sweet and stylish. If you ignore the fact that he’s a serial litter bug… “Paperman” is also available in 3D in the Blu-ray 3D combo pack (all the other extras are 2D), and is the only extra to be found on the DVD version.
For an alternate perspective, read our Wreck-It Ralph review from the theatrical release.
Read our Top 10 Videogame Bad Guys feature.
Read more of our DVD reviews.