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Wreck It Ralph

Sat 28th December 2013

I’m at home for Christmas, so when no-one else is hogging the telly, I try to take advantage of my parent’s Sky subscription and watch some films that I haven’t seen over the past year 🙂 When I was scanning the movie channels I noticed there was a Back to the Future marathon, with all three films back-to-back! Event though I’ve seen them all, they’re great so I queued this up for 2:10pm and kept browsing.

D23 Expo 2011 - Fix-It Felix Jr arcade game (W...

D23 Expo 2011 – Fix-It Felix Jr arcade game (Photo credit: Doug Kline)

I found that Wreck-It Ralph was due to be on at 2:05pm and having missed it when it was in the cinemas last year, I thought I’d watch the first 5 minutes to see if it’s worth watching the rest. And what a first 5 minutes!

Wreck-It Ralph is a charming tribute to the style, aesthetic and cacophony of 1980s arcade games. Somehow they managed to get permission to include characters from arcade legends such as Atari, Namco, Capcom and even a couple from Square, SEGA and Nintendo. There’s also a number of references to sound and visual effects in a number of other games, which are nice touches.

What is best about the whole production is how they have managed to combine the modern 3D visuals you expect from a modern (post-Pixar) Disney movie with subtle hints at the way video games work, mostly in the animation of some of the supporting characters and through occasional pieces of dialog. The rules of this fictional world is also based on and described in terms of video game parlance. Fortunately this is done fairly gracefully; if this had been written by people with a bit less knowledge, it could have been cringe-worthy, but it’s not!

Array of arcade and video game antagonists in a bad-guys support group in Wreck It Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph: © 2012 Disney. Characters: © Sega / Nintendo / Capcom)

Array of arcade and video game antagonists in a bad-guys support group in Wreck It Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph: © 2012 Disney. Characters: © Sega / Nintendo / Capcom)

The overall storyline is not spectacular, being a fairly predictable downtrodden-seeking-a-better-life setup with a little betray-an-unlikely-friend-but-redeem-by-saving-the-day thrown into the mix. However, the characters are pretty likeable; even the squeaky pre-teen unlikely-friend is cute and funny enough to avoid being annoying. There’s a nice mini-twist at the end too.

I was very impressed by this film. It’s probably the first of these Disney 3D films that has got close to the subtle charm that characterises Pixar films. It has a child-friendly storyline, but enough in-jokes and nostalgia to be very enjoyable to watch for adults. It takes a fictional and (sort of) inanimate world that we’re used to explores what goes on when we’re not watching.

If you grew up in the 1980s, are a fan of retro arcade games, or just like Pixar films I’d recommend watching Wreck-It Ralph.

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