Friday, 8 February 2013



Release Date: 8 February 2013 (UK)
Director: Rich Moore
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, John Tudyk (voices)
Screening Reviewed: London Press Screening

Reviewed by Kyle Pedley

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Walt Disney Animation Studios and their friends over at Pixar may have thrown one another’s projects at each other of late, so role reversing have been their outputs in Wreck-It Ralph and Brave this past year. Whereas Brave was a passable but pedestrian Princess fable more in keeping with the House of Mouses tradition back catalogue, Ralph is a wonderfully original and inventive post-modern delight bursting with the kind of charisma, charm and self-assuredness that is usually associated with the braver and more audacious outings of Pixar.

The films high concept almost sells itself - focusing on the idea of arcade and video game characters and villains coming together and interacting in the world of ‘Game Central’ after the arcade in which they are housed closes every night. There are plenty of recognisable cameos and fan service littered throughout for the savvier and more videogame-friendly of audiences, though fortunately none of this is leant on, and a mostly original (or adapted) cast of characters come to the fore and carry the movie superbly.

Chief amongst these is the titular Ralph, antagonist of actual arcade classic ‘Fix it Felix, Jnr.’, who, after feeling ostracised and unsatisfied with his lot and role as perpetual bad guy and outcast, opts to take the controversial move of leaving his game to prove himself and acquire a prestigious medal from one of the accompanying games, traveling through the likes of marine shooter ‘Hero’s Duty’ and Mario Kart-esque ‘Sugar Rush’. Each of the worlds that Ralph encounters are brilliant and uniquely realised, with Sugar Rush in particular benefitting from some wonderfully inventive art direction and character design, with such gems as Taffyta Muttonfudge, Sour Bill and King Candy filling the roster. Everything has the whim and spark of Disney at it’s most exuberant, playful and joyful, and the films design and cast are amongst some of the most memorable and irrepressible of any animated feature in recent memory.

Whilst it is initially disappointing that there is not as much variety to Ralph’s journey as one would first expect and hope for from the films marketing in particular, having the film settle predominantly in the world of Sugar Rush allows it to develop an involving, engaging relationship between lead Ralph and young racer Vanellope von Schweetz, a boisterous tomboy character who echoes Ralph in being an unwelcome outsider in her world due to her unpredictable nature of ‘glitching’. The bond between the pair is in many ways the most atypical Disney element, though they prove a genuinely endearing dynamic and Vanellope in particular develops into a far more rounded and integral character than the irritating sidekick archetype she could so easily have defaulted into. Similarly, the storyline around them unfurls into a more involved and twisting tale than first expected, with the fates of not only the leads, but game central as a whole falling into jeapordy and a handful of rather ingenious character and plot twists thrown in keeping the film a continually fresh and surprising treat.

The voice talent assembled do a terrific job, with leads John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman  complementing each other well - Reilly lends Ralph a depth and heart that is countered neatly by Silverman’s pep and sass as Vanellope. They are given staunch support from the likes of Alan Tudyk, channelling the late Ed Wynn as the ambiguous maybe-villain King Candy and Jane Lynch as no-nonsense marine Calhoun who goes on her own frequently hilarious subplot and side adventure with Jack McBrayer’s Fix-It Felix, Jr., providing one of the films most unlikely yet genuinely entertaining pair-ups. Like so much in Wreck-It Ralph, the pairing of Jean and Felix is bizarre, self-aware and brilliantly unexpected, further highlighting the original thinking and invention that makes the film a highly encouraging dossier on what Disney is still able to achieve.

From its involved, unpatronising and consistently entertaining narrative rife with memorable, engaging characters, to the overall level of care and attention that echoes out of practically every frame, Wreck-It Ralph is clearly a labour of love. Hilarious touches and knowing winks to the games industry such as the static movements and animations of Ralph’s co-inhabitant ‘Nicelanders’ through to even audio cues from iconic games such as Metal Gear Solid, this is a film which does not overtly rely on nostalgia but is unafraid of paying homage to the games and experiences which have clearly inspired it. It is no doubt, and truly deserves to be, the beginning of a franchise with almost infinitesimal possibilities, and on the basis of this first instalment, games developers and distributors will no doubt be clamouring to get their icons and IP's involved in the inevitable sequel.

Though some may be disappointed by the films’ misleading marketing (poster regular Sonic the Hedgehog, for instance, appears for literally a handful of seconds in video form), to overlook the level of craft and achievement on display here would be tremendously unfair. This is Disney at it’s most capable and inventive, and as mentioned director Rich Moore and team have outdone even their mighty partners at Pixar when it comes to whimsy, originality and charm. Easily the most accomplished animated feature of the past year, Wreck-It Ralph is up there with the finest the House of Mouse has offered and is an absolute must-see recommendation for fans of videogames, animation and original, entertaining filmmaking as a whole.

(A)MUSINGS RATING - * * * * * (5 out of 5 Stars)

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Press access for this screening of Wreck-It Ralph was provided by Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios UK directly. (A)musings Media gratefully acknowledges their generous invitation.

1 comment:

  1. good movie review. I was wondering the same film. there in the latest movie reviews. who want to come please :)


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