Friday, February 22, 2013

Movie Review: Wreck-it Ralph

So, on Wednesday we had babysitters, which meant we were free to go to the cinema. Free from the kids, we naturally ended up seeing Wreck-it Ralph, mostly because a lot of the more "Grown Up" films we wanted to see were on at inconvenient times, would have finished really late, or have just passed on into that never-land between cinema and DVD release. The irony is not lost on me. In fact, we nearly missed this too, due to being stuck in match-night traffic around Elland Road Football ground, but at least that way we missed most of the adverts!

The best thing about Wreck-It Ralph is Paperman, the short film that comes with it. Whilst a (mostly) CG short its a great example of the often forgotten truth that CG is only a medium, not a homogenous style, with its gorgeous, flaky pencil sketch look to the characters. Its a wordless, 5-minute beauty, dripping with character and warmth, and it is, simply, a work of art. Its pretty much worth the price of admission alone.

The film itself is also pretty good, in fairness. There has been a lot of comparison to the Toy Story series in reviews, and its easy to see why; the basic premise of computer game characters having another life when the arcade is closed has a similar resonance, and even gets to some of the same places for its central pathos about the possibility of abandonment and (virtual) death. It also covers some familiar ground and self-actualisation, being accepted and being comfortable with yourself, inside. But this familiarity is bundled up with a whole load of charm, so its all fine with me.

Ralph is a bad guy. But not, as the saying goes, a Bad, Guy. He has a job to do, wrecking stuff, in a game called Fix-it Felix Jnr, and even when the lights go out he lives in his dump away from the rest of the games characters. The games 30th anniversary comes around, and sets of a crisis for him; he wants to win a Medal for once, he wants to be accepted for who he is, and so he leaves the game and heads off. After a breif (and very funny) sequence in Generic First-Person-Shooter "Heros' Duty" he manages to grab one, only to be blasted inadvertently into Sugar Rush, a candy-coated Mario Kart-a-like, where he ends up teamed up with a "glitch" who wants to be a real racer. Shenanigans, of course, ensue.

Wreck-it Ralph really has two things going on - it's core story, and an affectionate send-up of video games. Heroes Duty is very familiar, as is Sugar Rush, and both are littered with nods to real games. Actually gaming characters appear in small roles, a lot of others wander around in the background, and the train stations between the games are covered in graffiti; my favourite being "Aerith Lives". So it all comes together very smoothly. Its a good, fun film, although one whose plot over-familiarity limits any real punch it may have been aiming for. Ewan went to see it with his grandparents, and came back totally sold on it, to I suspect that's my jaded adult tastes letting me down a bit there...