The holiday rush is upon us once again, and that means studios will begin the onslaught of their best and brightest Oscar material. It usually means that family fare will begin to flood the theaters, but this season is surprisingly light on family films. Disney’s Thanksgiving contribution is “Wreck-It Ralph,” which follows the adventures of Ralph (John C. Reilly), a video game villain who goes on a journey through different arcade games to try to become a hero. Controllers are connected and cartridges have been cleaned for this week’s “Sellouts.”
Karsten Burgstahler: Honestly, there’s not much to complain about when it comes to “Wreck-It Ralph.” But there weren’t a whole lot of things that blew me away either. The movie is good popcorn fun, which Disney specializes in during the holiday season. The storyline is inventive and well thought-out. The setting here is different from most of Disney’s movies, too, which is a bonus. The writers were tasked with creating parameters to make this new world believable, and they succeeded. For example, if you die inside your own game, you regenerate. If you die outside your game, you’re gone for good.
Austin Flynn: Yeah, I agree on the “popcorn fun” aspect. This movie successfully merged two of my favorite hobbies in life — video games and cinema. This worked especially well because while the story was able to move along smoothly and engage the audience, there were small nods to the gamers who came to watch the flick solely because “Wreck-It Ralph” is set in a video game world. One big plus was the representation of all the different worlds and how the film showed the game evolution through CGI as they went from pixelated worlds to the crisp, HD, beautiful renderings that video games are now.
KB: It was neat to see how the animation moved from Ralph’s game, to ’90s style “Sugar Rush,” to modern day “Hero’s Duty.” “Duty” is brilliantly conceived as it mashes “Halo” and “Call of Duty” and represents the innocence modern video games have lost. “Sugar Rush,” where most of the movie takes place, is a racing game in a land filled with candy and soda; quicksand is Nesquik, volcanoes are made out of Diet Coke and the stalactites are made of Mentos. You get the picture. The only problem I had with product placement in the movie was one sequence in which a girl drinks from a Subway cup. It seemed out of place when all the other product placement was cleverly integrated into the plot.
AF: The Subway cup was a little too blunt, but I can overlook that because of all the other examples you’ve listed. It was really impressive to see all of the different video game characters all in one movie. I think the last time a film had this many video game references was the 1989 movie, “The Wizard,” starring Fred Savage. How’s that for a blast from the past? Seriously, though, not only was Disney able to successfully get the rights to use characters like Sonic, Ryu, Bowser and Zangief, but they were also able to use them in a way that made me laugh and think, “Yeah, I could totally see him/her saying that.” They also did a good job with Ralph and Vanellope, the lovable little candy kid sidekick. Sarah Silverman did a great job of making her an annoying, little sour patch punk that I loved to hate.
KB: Yeah, I’m not sure who else could have voiced Vanellope besides Silverman. Her voice is perfect for the role. How much do you think Disney paid for the rights to those characters? They were unable to secure Mario and Luigi because Nintendo wanted too much, so obviously the going rate for Bowser was a lot less. I wonder how Bowser feels about that. But seriously, I think my biggest issues with the film are the climax and several other sequences that are incredibly frantic. I understand that the writers wanted to give the movie the fast-paced video game feel, but if they slowed down a little bit the film wouldn’t feel so rushed. But otherwise, this movie is a great start to the holiday season.
AF: It’s funny you say rushed because in this sequence they were in the “Sugar Rush” video game, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from. It made for a decent climax, but it was something we’ve seen a million times before. Overall, “Wreck-It Ralph” met my expectations and can easily be considered one of the best video game movies created, coming in second only to the masterpiece known as the “Super Mario Bros.” movie (Obviously, I’m kidding). I loved the characters, the video game evolution it displayed throughout and even the commentary on loving who you are. “Wreck-It Ralph” gets an enthusiastic two 1ups.