After gobbling-up not only Marvel but also Star Wars, it seems that Disney is quickly taking over our entire childhoods (and the world).
So far, though, I gotta say they're not doing such a bad job updating all that stuff for new generations. This time, Disney takes on retro gaming and arcade games in particular bringing some familiar game characters to life and adding their own creativity to the mix to create: Wreck-It Ralph.
Much like Toy Story took place within the secret world of toys, this one takes place within the secret world of games where all your favourite characters interact and lead their own lives, treating the games themselves as a kind of job, Monsters Inc.-style. All the games in this arcade are linked through a power lead extension which, within that world, translates as Game Central Station, a common chill-out area for all the game characters to pass through and stick around. Among them, you get cameo appearances from the likes of various Street Fighter characters (Ryu, Ken, Zangief, M. Bison, even Chun-Li), Sonic The Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Q*Bert even gets lines! Of sorts...
Sadly the cameos have no real impact on the main plot which involves game "villain" Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) being taken for granted and mistreated by the people in his own game (including its titular hero Fix-It Felix) and going off to modern first-person shooter game Hero's Duty in order to prove that he too can be a hero. Alas, in the process he finds himself being propelled to nearby candy-themed racing game Sugar Rush where he loses his hero's medal and some egg-laying bug he brought from the last game. He meets the wackily named Vanellope von Schweetz (a restrained but fun Sarah Silverman), a glitch who finally gets to race in the game. They build a friendship until it turns out that her playing Sugar Rush might result in its total destruction.
Wreck-It Ralph is a visual treat with Sugar Rush in particular looking about as candilicious as it gets, especially in 3D, proving that finally, Disney doesn't necessarily need Pixar to excel at that type of animation anymore. This is one which will appeal to younger viewers: it's very colourful, entertaining and the story is simple enough for anyone to understand. But it'll also appeal to those in need of their retro fix.
I mean, how many kids around today even know about Q*bert?!
So it is a nifty thing that parents and their children can both enjoy Wreck-It Ralph equally. Much more than the likes of Madagascar or Ice Age which have both overstayed their welcome, by the way. The film is visually flawless but it also has some terrific, likeable main characters which means that in the end you do get some sweet emotional moments and you do care about what happens to these CGI pixels throughout. The plot is good but sadly doesn't try anything too ground-breaking in terms of how the character's stories develop. Plus the first 15 minutes of the film and a lot of the jokes were already milked in the trailers which ran twice as long in the UK. That said, there are enough clever touches here and there to tie everything together in a way that makes it work really well, this includes a cool mini-twist right at the end. Luckily, no matter how familiar some of the very Disney plot threads feel, the film still feels fresh and original overall.
So, with the exception of a tacked-on romance subplot and the feeling that much more could have been done with the plot and the characters introduced, Wreck-It Ralph is a terrific little film with a spot-on cast and was well worth the wait. A sequel should iron out all the nitpicks and make it a truly worthy franchise.
Get to work, Disney! We want more.