“For thirty-years I’ve been wrecking stuff”
What do you get if you take Pixar’s Toy Story series multiply it by the gaming industry and then sprinkle it with a little extra Disney-ness? Well, surprise surprise you get Wreck-It Ralph. Peppered with American cult-known actors and actresses and shoving endless gaming cameos and references down our throats throughout its course the film starts strongly but slowly and surely goes downhill and ends in a lifeless and limp dead-end of a conclusion by time Ralph finally gets what he craves.
It has happened a couple of times recently, but most notably I think this time that a short animation featured before the main event completely out-shines a film that has had so much more work put into it and so much more money driven into it. The last two Disney/Pixar animations (I know Wreck-It Ralph isn’t a Pixar film) have both been destroyed by the shorts beforehand, Brave had La Luna which was a beautiful and dreamy innocent world with a story of growing up that included comedy and a real heart-felt meaning and now Paperman before Wreck-It Ralph was so engrossing and creatively mixed between 3D animation and classic 2D Disney animation of the characters that nothing was ever going to compete with it and as for the simple and cute story of love at first sight really hits the spot. Anyway, I’m not here to review Paperman even though it is the better piece of work on show here.
I was always pretty excited for Wreck-It Ralph and it is probably the best Disney animation (not involving Pixar) in quite some time, but then, it hasn’t really got anything to compete with as of late, the last real quality piece of Disney animation was probably The Lion King. I had thought for some time that someone should get a load of gaming licenses and make a film of this sort, a creative mix of Toy Story and gaming would seem to work in your head but where the first 20 or so minutes work almost exactly how you would expect with some witty usage of classic game bad-guys alongside the fictional Ralph character saying they are bad-guys ‘but not… bad guys’ the rest of the film really lacks everything that you’d really want as to work properly I kind of wanted real game spaces to make it feel all that much better.
Secondly, the film appears to operate some classic Disney rules of acceptance that children will undoubtedly watch and recreate. To fit into society you have to be a very specific person and be that Disney-like perfect human to be ‘right’, nothing else is ‘accepted’… even in the game world apparently. The storyline itself was all so predictable from the heads up, I could have read it scene for scene just from the trailer, there are no surprises involved and nothing you wouldn’t expect. It was always going to be a bad-guy who is actually a nice-guy wanting to be the hero, an all too certain goal and aim for an all too predictable film.
The game-spaces themselves were also uninventive, we see Ralph’s world of ‘Fix-it Felix Jr.’ which is basically an unlicensed Donkey Kong, a generic arcade shooter world, so generic infact I don’t think they made a name for it but did feature an obviously gay female captain in the form of Jane Lynch and then finally we see Sarah Silverman’s ‘Sugar-Rush Racing’ arcade world, again, a game so lifeless, dead and void of any creativity that it couldn’t possibly be real, no one, not even Sega would make a game that deride of connecting to an audience – even film games have more life than this… Talking of film games, before Wreck-It Ralph it shamelessly advertises a game version of itself… so, a bit like gameception, a game of a game in a film about a game that no-one would play ever, because it is crap.
The whole opening to the film is narrated by John C. Reilly’s Ralph in his classic depressive tones and does such a great job of introducing himself as an ungrateful sod that you genuinely think he is going to go and walk straight into a goomba in Mario Land (had they taken the risk to pay Nintendo for some kind of full usage of a license) within the first half hour and be done with his miserable life as a bad guy which is so hard (even to watch). I think a lot of the problem was in the design, the character of Ralph was so unbelievable as a bad guy but at the same time so annoying to look at as a lead that in the end it just never worked.
I liked Felix. Jr… (yes, I liked something) but mainly because of Jack McBrayer who was voicing him, known as the simpleton receptionist Kenneth to most from 30 Rock he actually ends up bringing likability and cute Disney humour to the role that I guess we should have been feeling annoyed about seeing as Ralph was jealous of him, character development was another weak point clearly. This is a film that could have had it all to some degree, done properly we might have seen cult gaming characters like Toad from Mario take some form of supporting role, something that is done all so well in Toy Story with Mr. Potato Head but a chance that is missed while bothering to develop unoriginal, uncreative and dull fake game characters from scratch instead of concentrating on an original likeable/believable couple of leads and adding a few supporting real game characters to make the world feel real. Instead, we ended up with this, this pile of rubbish that really did have a chance to excel and to be original.
I have read a couple of stories about a sequel online recently and heard that Disney want Mario in it… From what I’ve seen of this all I can imagine is that it would be a crap Sonic-like cameo that completely defeats the object where there would be a chance to do something different with it, maybe making him out to be some kind of bad ‘ruler of game’ or something… I dunno, I’m not a writer, although I’d probably do a better job. I mean, finally, what kind of arcade has new sonic games next to a retro game like Wreck-It Ralph, and who is even going to arcades like this to keep them running anymore?
My verdict? Wreck-It Ralph is a shit and what they probably see as ‘modern’ version of Toy Story that won’t stand the test of a year let alone become a timeless classic like Toy Story. I felt it had potential (shown in the forst 20 or so minutes) that it threw down the toilet in order to rattle through a pointless and unemotional story in its given runtime.