Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wreck-It Ralph Review

You certainly don't have to be a video game aficionado to appreciate Disney's Wreck-It Ralph. With an original concept whereby video game characters can 'game-hop' within an arcade, and the nostalgia evoking inclusion of famous characters from various video game universes, Wreck-It Ralph has a simple enough story, but is a bundle of fun to watch. Featuring a variety of games from main character Ralph's retro, pixelated 'Fix-It Felix, to 'Hero's Duty' and 'Sugar Rush' - modern games inspired by the likes of 'Mario Cart' and 'Call of Duty'. Wreck-It Ralph's gaming universe was rich, colourful and immersive, making me wish that they'd actually create some of these games for real.

Needless to say, the first time I saw the trailer for this I was excited. It felt like a Disney mash-up of Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Toy Story, though despite occasional resemblances and it's nods to various different game characters, I felt Wreck-It Ralph managed to hold it's own as a solid tribute to video games both old and new. I did find myself wondering though...why did no one ever shut the games down once the arcade closed for the day? Mostly I can forgive stuff like that because its a kids film and its better not to ask too many questions, however if having your game unplugged is the equivalent of death in Ralph's world, why was no one worried that to prevent electricity bills from going through roof, the arcade owner might shut the games down at the end of the day? I think the film would have benefited from having it's concept explained a little better, and I think, being such a cool concept it could have been explored a little more, for example it would have been cool to see a few more different games.

It also has to be said that the amount of product placement in this film was insane, with everything from Oreo guards and 'Nesquik-sand', to Mento stalactites and a diet coke lake. No doubt Disney will make a bunch of money off merchandising too, however I'll try not to be cynical as it could potentially boost video game sales too. Although I like to think that this film is more of a testimonial to the video games everybody loves than a vehicle for a bunch of product placement made in the hopes that more people will go out and play video games. The amount of detail in this film is immense, and its littered with little Easter eggs that will be a delight for keen-eyed viewers and video game fans. It was a lot of fun noticing some of the subtle (and not so subtle) video game references and jokes and I felt added to the viewing experience as it is done in a way that won't alienate the general movie-going public, as the humour is clear and sharp.

Another thing I noticed was that visually, characters from different games moved differently which I thought was visually, really interesting. For example, characters from older games moved more rigidly than those from modern games, keeping with the feel of their pixelated worlds. Its subtle, but very clever - another reason why you get the feeling this is made by people who know and love their video games, rather than just as money-grabbing bait for video game fans.

I was also pleasantly surprised to hear Japanese pop band AKB48 singing what I guess was the film's theme song in the credits. Thats got to be the first time I've ever heard a Japanese pop group being included as part of the soundtrack for an American film. So that was pretty cool too, especially when I googled the music video afterwards and saw the weird yet adorable outfits they had to wear.

Anyway, to cut this short I'll finish by saying that overall, I enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph. It was cute, with an inventive concept and humour that can be appreciated by anyone, so its a good family film that despite being limited to a simple 'bad guy' turns 'good guy' story is entertaining, and definitely a must-watch for gamers.