There is a difference between doing a movie based on a video game and a movie about a video game. Films like “Doom,” “Super Mario Bros,” “Resident Evil,” and “Max Payne,” are prime examples of the former, and films such as “Gamer,” “Tron,” “eXistenZ” and “WarGames,” depict the latter description. But Disney’s animated 3D film “Wreck-It Ralph” is by far the best film about a video game ever done. This comment doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best animated movie of the year – “Frankenweenie,” “Rise of the Guardians,” “Paranorman” and “Brave” might have something to say against that, but it should be amongst the favorites at the Oscars in 2013. Nevertheless, it is visually nostalgic, sensorially exuberant, vivaciously mirthful and emotionally moving.
The plot is simple and has been done before, but it is always about the execution. For decades, Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) has been overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), the good-guy star of their game who always gets to save the day. Tired of playing the role of a bad guy, Ralph takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a journey across the arcade through multiple generations of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero. On his quest, Ralph meets tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) from the first-person action game Hero’s Duty, and feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) from the candy-coated cart-racing game Sugar Rush, who may just be his first real friend. But everything changes when a deadly enemy is unleashed, threatening the entire arcade and Vanellope herself. Ralph finally gets his chance to save the day—but can he do it in time?
For anyone who has ever played video games circa 1980’s and 90’s, novice film director Rich Moore, a cartoon veteran, does a magnificent job in getting his animators to reproduce the exact Nintendo and arcade images of yesteryear. It almost felt like it was 1988 in the movie and outside of the theater. He managed to capture vast inside references and minutiae like kids placing their quarters against the front border of the arcade to gesture that they were next to play, etc. It is that attention to detail that makes a difference in the emotional cinematic experience of the spectator.
The 3D is surprisingly subtle, I’d actually say too subtle for a film of this nature. Instead of seeing pixels fly out of the screen, I had to lift my glasses to make sure I wasn’t watching 2D. When the result is this uneventful, the extra investment is completely unnecessary.
This is a movie hard not to enjoy. Adults will appreciate it because it’ll remind them of their youth when they would run home from school to play ‘Q*bert,’ along with all the inside references and retro cliche’s, and kids today will have fun with it because it possesses all the color, fast paced imagery and gags they come to expect from today’s animated assemblage.
Latinos, the highest movie going demographic in the United States, love animated movies more than any one else. They’re sure to make this movie a #1 hit at the box office!