Wreck-It Ralph had been in development for almost thirty years before it finally burst onto our screens in 2012. The film had previously been titled High Score and Reboot Ralph over the years before Disney president John Lasseter and his team settled on Wreck-It Ralph. The rest is history. With enough Easter Eggs to make people of all ages happy, Wreck-It Ralph is a technicolor dream full of pixels and heart. It subverts tropes and tells an entertaining story effectively. It definitely proves that Disney’s recent golden era of 3-D animation was set into motion with this film and Tangled.
Heavy-handed and soft-hearted, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is tired of being viewed as a villain. When he discovers he’s not been invited to his game’s 30th-anniversary party, he crashes the party and wrecks the cake when the mayor of Niceland starts being mean to him. Simply wanting recognition and to prove he’s a nice guy, Ralph leaves his game Fix-It Felix Jr. to earn a medal in one of the other games so he can prove he can do more than just wreck things. When he infiltrates the game Hero’s Duty and interferes with the first person shooter causing the end of the game, Ralph steals the medal but is soon overtaken by Cy-bugs. He manages to escape to Sugar Rush where he is tracked by Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) and Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), from Hero’s Duty. Only problem? A glitch named Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a crazed King Candy (Alan Tudyk), and a rogue Cy-bug that threatens Sugar Rush with an uncontainable virus. Can Ralph go against his programming and save Sugar Rush?
I was not expecting this film to be as good as it was. I was never interested in it when it was first released. I’m not sure why I wasn’t. After seeing the trailer and the promo images for the sequel, I knew I had to go back and visit the arcade for the first time to see what all the hype was about. I’m glad I did. The film is full of delightful easter eggs that make the story much richer than I was expecting. I felt like I was taking a trip down nostalgia boulevard or something. Not only that, but the animation was spot on. I loved the little nods to arcade coding and how the people off Niceland moved like they were still pixels on a screen as opposed to the 3D characters the audience was presented. I thought that was nicely done.
The film, however, does delve into some super dark territory that I wasn’t expecting and it made me appreciate the storyline even more. Disney knew what it was doing when they decided to subvert the classic hero/villain tropes and they really did it in a way that was believable and very well developed. Most films wouldn’t be able to handle the morality of villains in a way that Disney does. While it turns out that Ralph isn’t really the villain the people of Niceland make him believe he is, Ralph still does some monstrous things. Disney balances the light and dark by having Ralph realize his transgressions toward Vanellope later in the film and when he realizes these things, he goes to the only man he knows who can fix it and that’s Felix. With the “villain” and the hero working together, Wreck-It Ralph achieves a whole slew of moral lessons that might go over some youngsters’ heads. For the adults watching, it’s a truly remarkable and interesting treat.
Wreck-It Ralph is a film that needs to be seen. Does it have problems? Yes. A few plot points do feel a little underdeveloped but as a whole, the film is a dream. It’s a wonderfully crafted look at following your heart and proving to yourself and others that you aren’t what others make of you. To some, you may be a “villain”, but to others, you’re their hero, and that’s the greatest lesson anyone can learn, in my opinion.
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