Kameron McBride writes KAMERA OBSCURA for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the paper or The Daily.
My initial response to seeing the trailer for “Wreck-It Ralph” was, “How have they not thought of this before?”
A retro video game film that has limitless opportunities for sets, characters and imagination with a very strong fan base already built in? This movie should have been made years ago.
We finally have the film here and the results are good — not great, but good.
“Wreck-It Ralph” tells the story of Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), a video game bad guy. Ralph’s game is “Fix-It Felix Jr.” — a classic platform game that involves a repair man named Felix (Jack McBrayer) moving his way up a building, fixing things that Ralph is continuously “wrecking.” The style is very similar to the first Mario game, where Donkey Kong is throwing barrels that Mario must dodge.
Ralph is depressed about constantly being the villain of his game and sets out to earn a medal, which will set him apart as a hero and mean that he isn’t such a bad guy after all. Ralph decides to hop into a shooting game called “Hero’s Duty,” which is a modern game that resembles “Starship Troopers” with soldiers running around shooting giant bugs.
Ralph also eventually finds himself in “Sugar Rush,” a game where players race candy-themed characters against each other in worlds that could only be dreamed up by a child on a sugar high.
Along the way, we also meet Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch), a tough leader in “Hero’s Duty,” and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), a racer who appears as a glitch in “Sugar Rush.”
Reilly was a great voice actor in this role. He captures Ralph’s character well and has a very distinctive tone. Everyone else was pretty good, but Reilly was the real standout.
Overall, this movie was very interesting but a little disappointing. For this film, we have the opportunity to go anywhere we want and have an infinite number of worlds to travel to and explore, but the film limits itself by staying in “Sugar Rush” so long. I got a headache from looking at the sugar-injected world and was practically begging to go back into a different game. Alas, it was not meant to be, and we remain in the world for the most of the film.
The fun in this film is certainly in the detail. The characters from “Fix-It Felix Jr.” move in a very broken manner that resembles how their 8–bit avatars do. Ralph — in probably the best scene of the film — goes to a “villain support group” that includes icons like the ghost from “Pac-Man” and Bowser from “Super Mario Bros.”
By the way, where was Mario? I kept expecting him to show up given all the other cameos, but I suppose Princess Peach must have been kidnapped during shooting.
When the first trailer for “Wreck-It Ralph” was unveiled last summer, it was instantly compared to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” — a film that combined an all–star cartoon cast, including Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse with a live-action noir story. I think the key difference between the two is that “Roger Rabbit” had an interesting plot that got the best out of the toon world and the noir story. The tone of the film worked well as both edgy and fun, while “Wreck-It Ralph” merely settles on the fun but doesn’t realize its full potential. The worlds within the movie needed to be a little more imaginative, and we needed to play with the full potential of these video game worlds.
“Wreck-It Ralph” is certainly a film worth seeing — especially if you need to distract younger kids during the holiday season, but it falls short of being the innovative film it had the potential to be.
“Wreck-It Ralph” receives a 3 out of 5.