By: Tatiana G. King
“Movies Are for Nerds” will be an ongoing series dedicated to rating and critiquing movies that have elements of sci-fi, video-games, fantasy, etc. Ratings will be based on a “LoveByte” (heart) level from 0 to 4. While it cannot be guaranteed that each review will be devoid of spoilers, these will not be epic rants (or raves) about any movie.
Wreck-It-Ralph (the title character Ralph voiced by John C. Reilly) tells the story of a video game villain that, for once, would like to be the good guy. The good guy gets all the praise and accolades while the bad guy is relegated boos and hisses. The good guy gets applauded for just being themselves while the bad guy is admonished and sent to live in the town dump. Ralph would like a parade and a cookie once in a while for just for being him. However in the world of video games the theme is that bad guys are bad, good guys are good, and nothing more—Bummer.
Ralph’s game, Fix-It-Felix is a call to the days of the old Donkey Kong/Mario games. Per his title, Ralph wrecks an apartment building to the best of his natural, programmed abilities while Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) uses his magic hammer to fix the building as fast as possible. In the end Felix usually wins and is rewarded handsomely, while Ralph is literally tossed off the top of the very building he tried to destroy moments.
The movie basically goes through a series of misadventures that ends up having the hero (anti-hero?) Ralph leaving his game and teaming up with an adorable sprite called Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). Vanellope looks to be around 7 years old, yet she’s wiser and more in tune with what’s going on around her than her appearance makes her out to be. Her game, Sugar Rush, is a candy and pastry filled explosion of a world where confection-based characters engage in dramatic go-kart racing. Vanellope, who is not a bad guy but actually a game glitch, has her own related problems of being unceremoniously forced to live on the edges of society. As a glitch she also suffers from the effects of being unwanted. While somewhat sad, one of the more hilarious illustrations of this is when Vanellope shows Ralph where she lives and explains: “Welcome to my home! I sleep in these candy wrappers and bundle myself up like a little old homeless lady!”
Coming along for the ride, albeit not exactly happy about it, is the beautiful yet brutal Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch); a hardcore soldier from the game Hero’s Duty (think Gears of War/Call of Duty/Modern Warfare, etc.). She plays the straight man to all the buffoonery going on around her and it’s great to watch the interactions. Rounding up the supporting characters is Felix Jr. who’s trying to wrangle Ralph back to their game; which ironically needs Ralph now more than ever or the plug will be pulled on their arcade cabinet (pulling the plug on a game is akin to the Armageddon for video game characters). Felix Jr. is the lovable “aw shucks” kind of guy that ends up crushing hard for Sergeant Calhoun.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the movie I will say that my only remote level of disappointment was in the number of cameos. All the previews (especially the widely seen ‘Bad Guys Anonymous’ meeting), make it seem like you’re going to see faces like Mario, Sonic, Megaman, and other random characters consistently throughout the movie from beginning to the very end. While there are lots of cameos these additions don’t affect the story line, nor are they overtly involved in the plot (contrary to what the trailers make you believe). However when I thought about it, not only would that be the cheap way to actually go about the film, but would take away from the original story that Pixar was putting together. In the back of my mind I still think it was a cheap marketing ploy to use characters like M.Bison for the movie promo posters (yet you only see him during the Bad Guys Anonymous meetings). I will say that there are enough cameos and video game references sprinkled throughout to make any lover of video games happy. The mere fact that they inserted characters and references from all sorts of publishing companies (i.e. Nintendo, Square Enix, Sega/Sonic Team, Konami, Capcom) calls to a level of back-reference that shows that the writers at least did their homework. Not only that, a careful eye on all the scenes in the movie will reveal either hidden Easter eggs or show the smart nuances and quirks of each game inhabitant (i.e. the townspeople of Fix-It-Felix).
Overall I was pleased and thought the movie was entertaining. I saw it in 3D (had no choice) but it’s really not necessary to see that version. So save your money on 3D if you can, but see it on a huge screen if at all possible. The colors really pop and the animation immerse you in the 8-bit and high-def worlds for the duration of the movie.