Wreck It Ralph is Disney’s latest movie, and also their latest foray into the digital animation arena. Arguably it skews towards a younger audience than Pixar’s work, but I greatly prefer it to Brave. It’s the story of the perennial villain of a Mario/Donkey Kong analogue who feels dissatisfied with his lot in life and seeks to change it.
It’s the heart warming story of one man’s journey of self realisation, realising what he actually has but also ensuring people around him appreciate him. Littered with lots and lots of very good jokes about video games. For as simplistic as the story is, it is how it is told and all the little details that makes it shine.
The animation isn’t of the same quality as Pixar’s offerings, but is definitely more than adequate and captures the era and styles of each of the video games it portrays adequately. Everything feels of a piece and works together well, which is not something that all animations can boast.
The main characters are fairly broadly crafted, but no less identifiable for that. How much you enjoy the film is arguably going to hinge on how annoying you find the female lead and how many of the jokes you actually get and enjoy. For me the main female character stays just the right side of really annoying, but I can easily appreciate that other people may have a far more adverse reaction to her.
The story centres on Ralph, who is the villain in a game called “Fix It Felix Jr,” becoming tired of doing the same thing every day and also being hated by the other characters in the game. He seeks out a support group comprising of the villains of other video games. All the characters in his support group are characters from well known games, which gives his own story and game an air of authenticity it may otherwise lack as well as playing significant fan service to video game players.
Against the advice of everyone, and at risk to himself and his peers, Ralph abandons his game and enters others in an attempt to gain recognition and acceptance. The story is really about the people he encounters and also the reaction to his absence of the characters from his own game. It’s really well done and Ralph is a likeable and believable character, even in a film that anthromorphises video games in the same manner Toy Story did with childhood toys. There is an internal logic at work that mainly holds and gives the film high stakes and a surprising amount of tension in places.
For me, Wreck It Ralph is the best animation of the last couple of years. Certainly the most I have enjoyed a Disney cartoon in years. It’s also released with a quite exquisite short called Paperman.