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In Litwak’s Arcade, the games delight,
A quarter for a race or fight,
But kids and Litwak do not know
Where all game characters then go
When everyone is gone at night.
The characters treat every game
As just a job that earns them fame,
But Wreck-It Ralph wants to defy
His role as damaging bad guy
And thirty years of mud and shame.
Good guys, like Fix-It Felix, seem
To boast the highest self-esteem.
Ralph needs a hero’s medal now
To win some happiness somehow,
Despite how others scorn his dream.
He leaves his game to earn respect;
When gamers come, there’s nothing wrecked.
Their jobs and home are now in danger,
But Ralph’s off to someplace stranger,
Bent on medals to collect.
In Hero’s Duty, thus Ralph tries
To stay alive and win his prize,
But killer Cy-Bugs plague his route,
And one of them, alas, gets out.
It sneaks away and grows in size.
Their crash site is in Sugar Rush,
A racing game that’s sweet and plush.
Ralph’s medal’s taken when he meets
The brat Vanellope von Schweetz,
A hated glitch who’s kept hush-hush.
She purchases her right to race,
But Ralph arrives to trash the place.
When he sees how she’s shunned apart,
He helps her build her own go-cart,
But King Kandy stays on her case.
King Kandy sows doubt in Ralph’s mind
On whether he should be inclined
To help her win or if he should
Prevent the girl for her own good.
He breaks her heart by being kind.
Ralph goes back home, unsatisfied,
But learns the sneaky King had lied.
Ralph helps Vanellope come back
And race at last, but bugs attack!
King Kandy shows his evil side.
Vanellope can’t leave the game
Since she’s a glitch; the King’s to blame.
So Ralph attempts a sacrifice
To save the insects at a price
And wipes them out with cola flame.
He’s saved and is content to see
Success come to Vanellope.
Embracing duties he once hated,
Ralph’s at last appreciated,
The good “bad guy” he’s meant to be.

Wreck-It Ralph is an oddity among Disney movies, not a fairy tale or a traditional love story, but rather an original hero quest that creates an astonishingly detailed environment to rival the world-building prowess of Pixar. My VC considers it fluff, and at first glance a film about video game characters may seem to be just that, but Wreck-It Ralph greatly exceeded my expectations with its imaginative plot and abundant eye candy (pun intended).

In many ways, Wreck-It Ralph is an example of potential pitfalls done right. It brilliantly combines real video game characters from Pac-Man, Q*Bert, Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tapper, Altered Beast, and many more, similar to how Who Framed Roger Rabbit? mingled classic cartoon characters from various studios into something totally unique. Unlike the more adult-leaning Roger Rabbit, which I appreciate more than I like, Wreck-It Ralph allows these characters their cameos for the hard-core gamers to scrutinize, while making them mere accessories to the main plot of original characters, all while maintaining a (mostly) family-friendly tone.

In addition, the unsatisfying, out-of-nowhere reveal of Prince Hans in Frozen was handled so much better in this earlier film. King Kandy is already treacherous from the start; we just don’t know the extent of his villainy. The big reveal was clearly set up but still came as a surprise to me because the filmmakers deftly toyed with the possibility that the King, rather than Vanellope, was just misunderstood. The writers knew what they were doing. There are even some insightful remarks, such as Vanellope’s despised glitch being analogous to a birth defect and Ralph questioning why video games have become so violent of late.

All this doesn’t even mention the stunning animation, the astounding amount of world-building, and how the filmmakers utilized their own rules to ingenious effect. From the limitations and advantages of glitches to the behaviors of the Cy-Bugs, the imagination just keeps flowing. There’s also a plethora of sweet-themed puns in the world of Sugar Rush, a candy kingdom reminiscent of that in Adventure Time.

Plus, there’s some excellent voice work from John C. Reilly as the conflicted Ralph, Sarah Silverman as the bratty but lovable Vanellope, Jack McBrayer as the goody two-shoes Fix-It Felix, Jane Lynch as the intense Sgt. Calhoun of Hero’s Duty, and Alan Tudyk as the duplicitous King Kandy. Again, my VC doesn’t like how Ralph’s “villainy” is seen as good, but his villainhood is depicted as just a job and clearly not true evil. Thus, his position as both protagonist and “bad guy” is must less subversive than, say, The Nightmare before Christmas or Wicked. If anything, his realization that filling his necessary role is better than selfishly seeking his own glory makes the film even more unique.

Wreck-It Ralph may not have quite the same character development as other Disney films, but it’s an inventive thrill ride with a jam-packed plot that begs for repeated viewing. It also boasts not one, not two, but three songs worthy of my End Credits Song Hall of Fame, the “Sugar Rush” and “Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph” theme songs and Owl City’s utterly catchy “When Can I See You Again?” Many of the video game references probably flew over my head, but whether you’re a gaming fan or not, this film is just plain fun.

Best line: (Sgt. Calhoun, after seeing Felix’s fixing hammer at work) “Your face is still red; you might want to hit it with your hammer again.”

Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 9
Visual Effects: 9
Originality: 9
Watchability: 9
Other (I like other films better): -3
TOTAL: 46 out of 60

Next: #168 – Cars

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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