These days you just assume a Disney film will be made by Pixar, but not Wreck-It Ralph.
Indeed, this will only be the second 100% Disney film I’ve seen in the last 10 years, the disappointing Bolt being the other one.
So can Disney emerge from Pixar’s shadow to make a movie that people will compare to the likes of Toy Story?
What’s This One About
Wreck-It Ralph is a villain in an old arcade game who wants to be the hero for a change, so he decides to leave his own game and tries to win a heroic medal in a different one.
Thoughts – A Great Film For Arcade Fans
In many ways this is like Toy Story, but in an Arcade Game setting.
While the toys in Toy Story come to life whenever Andy is out of the room, in Wreck-It Ralph the game characters live their lives when the Arcade shuts at night, and mix amongst each other in their own little world.
Immediately then, you get the feeling that while this is a film that will appeal to kids, it’s really one that is made for guys like me, by guys like me. In other words, it’s made for people who were old enough to play Arcade games in the 1980s and 90s.
And what a nostalgic treat it is.
While the two main games featured in the movie are fictional, there are cameos from characters from games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Q-bert, Root Beer Tapper (obviously, they all drink in Tapper’s bar), Street Fighter, Mario, Dance Dance Revolution, Qix and Burger Time Deluxe.
Seeing these characters on-screen is just fantastic for anyone who has grown up with the evolution of video games.
While it’s fair to say that the young kids watching it won’t really appreciate that since…well…Arcades aren’t exactly in vogue any-more, I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference to their enjoyment, but it will instantly mean the film is a winner in the eyes of my generation.
But Is It Any Good Beyond The Nostalgia?
Of course, a film can’t just work on nostalgia alone; if Wreck-It Ralph was pish beyond that, it’d be hard to compliment it.
Luckily though, it’s a strong film with a plot that moves along fairly well.
I say fairly, because I do think it slowed down a bit too much in the middle, but it started and finished strong.
What it is though is standard Animated film fayre (I would say ‘Disney fayre’ but Shrek is the same) about a hero (or anti-hero) who goes on a journey, meets an unlikely sidekick who he initially doesn’t like but ultimately becomes great friends with and then overcomes some sort of moral problem before living happily ever after.
I can accept that as a story for kids – even if it is much of a muchness – because it gives off a feel-good and morally acceptable message to them.
The animation of Wreck-It Ralph is also very good.
I saw it the normal way, so I can’t comment on how it looked in 3D, but I was pleased with the rich colours, the realisation of the animated characters and also the way each of the characters moved. That last point might seem a bit odd, but what I mean is that the characters from the old pixelated games from the 80s move like characters from games from that era, even when they are shown in their full 3D form. It adds a level of authenticity to the animation of a film that you can tell was made as a labour of love (although because it was made in the Disney Studio – aka Mousewitz – it’ll be a labour of love made under ridiculous pressure).
- As you’re probably aware, Disney films always start with an unrelated animated short before the main feature. In this case it’s a short called Paperman. It’s a black & white animation set presumably in the 50s or 60s about a Brief Encounter between a young man and woman. They bump into each other in a train station but she leaves before he can get her number. He then sees her some time later in the building opposite from his office window, as tries to get her attention with a paper aeroplane. It’s a simple cartoon with no dialogue, but it’s beautifully hand-drawn in a traditional 2D style and is probably better than Wreck-It Ralph, which isn’t doing the main feature a disservice in the least.
- More films should be drawn in that style.
- I like the whole sidestory of “Going Turbo”, as well as its resolution, which is actually quite surprising.
- I had no idea Zangief was a video game villain.
- King Candy has a voice that sounds very much like Roger Rabbit, but alas it’s not the same guy.
- The end bit is reminiscent of – but suitable different from – The Iron Giant, which I think is probably one of the more underrated animated films out there.
- If I was to criticise the film, I’d say it might be slightly too long for some kids to enjoy. I went to an early afternoon showing, and by the last half hour, the under-10s in the audience were clearly losing focus. Then again, they’re probably too young to be in a cinema anyway.
Should You Go To See Wreck-It Ralph?
While it’s sad that there will be plenty of people who will refuse to go to see a Disney film unless they have children with them, these people are missing out.
Wreck-It Ralph is hardly a new formula for Disney, but where it stands out is that offers guys like me who have an appreciation of video games and arcades of the past a proper nostalgia fest for a couple of hours.
And it does it very well.
What’s more, it also shows that Disney are capable of making a good, well-animated movie without Pixar.