Director - Rich Moore
Cast - John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman
Country of Origin - U.S.
Discs - 4
Distributor - Disney
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 03/10/13
The Film (5/5)
When I was growing up in the late 80's and early 90's video games had just started to become a pop-culture powerhouse. As a kid growing up during that time I had an NES, and later a Sega Genesis (and even later an SNES and Nintendo 64), and wanted to absorb anything that had to do with the games I loved this obsession extended to books (Anyone remember the F.X Nine Worlds of Power Series?), cereal (Yes, the Nintendo Cereal System), and TV programming. I remember watching the cartoon versions of Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Dragon Warrior (aka Dragon Quest), Video Power (with Johnny Arcade), with an intense fervor for such a young child. I attempted to memorize every episode as if the stories contained therein were somehow canon in the series they were portraying. There was one show in particular that really took me in more than any other, and that was Captain N: The Game Master about a teenager video game fan who finds himself sucked into the ultimate warp zone, and in Nintendoland surrounded by his video game heroes, and is now armed with a light zapper and controller and the status of hero himself.
With the advent of Netflix Instant I have had the opportunity to go back and revisit some of these childhood favorites, and I have sadly discovered that where once I found endless entertainment I now find an empty cheap product advertisement. A reminder of an era of gaming that was phenomenal in console form, but was capitalized upon in the silliest of manners. When Wreck-It-Ralph the new film from Disney Animation ended up in my mailbox, knowing that the film deals with the subject of retro gaming I wondered how Disney would handle the use of licensed classic characters in a film context. With John Lasseter now at the helm of Disney Animation would this be a video game version of Toy Story or would Wreck it Ralph prove to be something unique?
It turns out not only was Wreck-It-Ralph not a video game Toy Story, but it turns out to be the finest film from Disney Animation in many many years. I will admit to not being as impressed by some by recent outings such as Bolt and the Princess and the Frog (I've yet to sit down with Tangled), but the 2000's had been an odd decade for Disney Animation with too many Chicken Little's and Meet the Robinson's these are films with interesting ideas sure, but something in the execution doesn't fully translate.
Wreck-It-Ralph takes the Pixar 3D animation aesthetic, and combines it with the occasional bit of 8 and 16 bit video game style animation to create a truly unique and fun experience. The performances from John C. Reilly as Ralph and Sarah Silverman as Vanellope are both excellent. The animation is absolute top notch, and the direction from Rich Moore keeps things going at a fast moving pace.
From a parents perspective Wreck it Ralph manages to be an absolutely perfect kids film. If you are a parent of both boys and girls you'll know it's occasionally hard to get them to want to watch the same film. Wreck It Ralph manages to combine elements of a strong action oriented adventure story in an ever-changing fantasy landscape that goes from traditional 70's video game design, to Halo-esque action, to a wonderfully realized sugary sweet racing environment.
Wreck-It-Ralph is the villain in the nearly 30 year old arcade classic Fix It Felix Jr. His job has always been simple, destroy the building in the game, and allow the hero of the game Fix it Felix Jr. to repair it, and thus appear heroic. But with Fix It Felix Jr's big 30th Anniversary around the corner Ralph begins to wonder if there's more to his existence than life as a simple villain, and demands from his other Felix characters a bit of the respect they show the hero Felix. When they refuse to show it, even in the form of a cake, he leaves the game in search of a medal in another game to prove his heroism. This takes him into the first person shooter Heroes Duty where he acheives the medal, and into the Mario Kart-esque racer Sugar Rush. It is in the world of Sugar Rush where he helps the glitch in the system character Vanellope Von Schweetz to gett a cart, race, and learn about his place in the video game world in the process.
I have kids, so I certainy pay attention to what is going out in theaters for kids most of the time. That being said there are certain studios whose films get my attention more often than others (Pixar, Ghibli, Aardman). Disney Animation usually has to have something truly special for me to take notice of their releases these days, as in the last decade there has been some minor inconsistency. Wreck It Ralph, however, is the best film they've released in quite some time, and is deserving of every ounce of attention and praise is heaped upon it.
Wreck-It-Ralph comes to Blu-ray in an absolutely dazzling 1080p AVC encoded MPEG-4 Transfer. This transfer is bright, and colorful, extremely detailed throughout, and is just an absolute piece of cinematic eye candy. I could not detect any faults in the transfer, but this is a recent animated film so that is sort of to be expected.
The audio is similarly presented with a completely solid DTS-HD Master audio 7.1 track that sounds completely amazing. The dialogue comes through loud and clear, as do the music and effects for the film. Everything is balanced nicely, and I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Disney has put together a decent little slate of extras for their release of Wreck-It-Ralph. The disc kicks off with Paperman a 7 minute short that played theatrically with the film. We then get a 17 minute making of called Bit by Bit Creating the Worlds of Wreck It Ralph. This is followed up by 14 minutes of Alternate and Deleted Scenes. There are 3 commercials on the disc advertising the games present in the feature. We then come to my favorite feature included in the set, Disney Intermission. Basically every time the film is paused Chris Hardwick from the Nerdist podcast talks about some of the references in the film. The disc is rounded off by a series of trailers and sneak peeks for upcoming Disney Releases.
Wreck It Ralph is quite possibly the finest film Disney Animation has put out in years. It uses the backdrop of modern and retro video gaming in a way that is absolutely fresh and fun, and is an absolutely delight. The A/V on the disc is nothing short of incredible, and the extras while sort of slim are quite a bit of fun as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.