Ever since Wreck-It-Ralph was introduced at E3 this year, I’ve looked forward to the premiere with a dual sense of excitement and dread. Excitement because, well…if done right, this could be the movie of our generation: a milestone representing how far gaming’s come in the past few decades, the Toy Story of our generation. If done wrong, though…
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time a video game movie was a letdown, but it would be the first time something with such promise fell short.
This Friday, I went with a group of friends to the premiere of the film. After taking a few days to mull it over (and to get over a nasty flu), I feel as though I’m finally ready to review it. At this point, those few of you who’ve been holding off from seeing the movie have one question: Does Wreck-It Ralph live up to all the hype?
The short answer is a resounding “yes.”
The film does have a few problems, of course. I would have liked to see Ralph “jump games” a little more than he did (most of the movie is spent in Sugar Rush, a title which can best be described as Mario Kart after being hurled into a candy store – though there’s a very good reason for that). A few more cameos from well-known gaming figures would have been cool, as well.
In any case, those are just minor sticking points. In light of what the movie does right, those few shortcomings can be very easily forgiven.
For one, the characters that do make cameos are done very, very well. None of them feel out-of-place, and in addition to all the familiar faces, the movie is filled with enough references to games culture (both subtle and obvious) that I could very easily write a whole bloody article pointing them out. On top of that; there wasn’t that feeling of disconnect that plagues so many gaming movies, since the film’s creators actually asked organizations such as Nintendo if the characters that had cameos were true to their roots.
In other words, they made an effort to understand the medium they were making a movie about – and it shows.
Of course, the movie’s not simply a continual parade of cultural references and inside jokes. There’s a decent story behind all the dazzling lights, with equal parts drama, humor, and the sort of charm that seems missing from far too many modern Disney films. It manages to pull off some positively heart-wrenching moments, all without ever taking itself too seriously, and the ending is, to put it simply, very satisfying. Even if you aren’t a gamer, there’s plenty you’ll find appealing in the film.
The actors make it even better. John C. Reilly kills it as Ralph, and Sarah Silverman is adorably entertaining as Vanellope; while Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch deliver stellar performances in their roles as Felix and Calhoun.
Long story short…Wreck-It Ralph was worth the wait, and definitely worth the cost of the tickets. If you grew up playing games in the 90s (or even if you didn’t), you owe it to yourself to go and see it.