Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Poster for 2013 animated film Wreck-It Ralph

Genre: Animation
Certificate: PG
UK Release Date: 8th February 2013
Runtime: 108 minutes
Director: Rich Moore
Writer: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee
Starring: John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch
Synopsis: A video game villain goes AWOL in order to try and prove that he can be the good guy, but jeopardises the safety of the whole arcade.

 

 

 

Wreck-It Ralph is not a film based on a video game. Wreck-It Ralph is a film about video games and that turns out to be a key strength. Combining nostalgia for the 8-bit generation with standard kid’s movie gags, it concocts the perfect mixture of appeal for every audience.

At its centre is John C Reilly at his amiable best voicing lunking video game villain Ralph. All he does all day is wreck stuff and he’s had enough. He wants a chance at being a hero and so he decides to leave his game to try and find a medal, like the good guy he fights all day.

Unfortunately, Ralph causes all manner of chaos by leaving his game and incurs the wrath of ruthless military woman Jane Lynch in war game Hero’s Duty. Wreck-It Ralph’s opening hour or so is uproariously entertaining as it packs in an impressive number of references to retro arcade games that 8-bit nerds will absolutely adore. The problem comes when these references run out and the film disintegrates to standard Disney fare. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long for Wreck-It Ralph to pick itself up and again become one of Disney’s best films in years. Its crescendo is a crazy climax that manages to unite Disney’s cutesy feel with monsters straight out of Starship Troopers… if Starship Troopers featured the voice of Sue Sylvester from Glee.

Sarah Silverman is incredibly squeaky fun as an ostracised character, hamstrung by their regular glitching. She turns up the screech factor on her voice to a level that should be annoying and, although the film sometimes uses her for lowest common denominator toilet gags, her character comes through as good fun in the end. She is even sweet enough to carry through some of the toilet stuff, although a gag about how “Hero’s Duty” sounds a bit lavatorial is dragged out too long for it to be comfortable.

Wreck-It Ralph ultimately has a very interesting narrative arc with a fair number of twists. Kids will love the colourful environments and funny moments, whereas adults will look with reverence to the 8-bit game nods that litter the film’s strongest sections. It’s very Disney and redemptive in the end, but by then, it will have completely sold itself.

9/10

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