Because I successfully started every post from last year with “So,” I’ve decided to take up this challenge again and start every post this year with “Because…”. I think this will be a bit more challenging but constructive than “So”, because it will force me to answer the unasked question of “Why?”. Anyway, getting to what this post is really about…
I saw Wreck It Ralph the other day, which I’ve been wanting to see ever since I heard about it. And while it was a good movie, I don’t think it lived up to all my expectations.
Wreck It Ralph follows the story of the titular character, a bad guy in a video game who, after 30 years of being bad and being treated accordingly, is sick of his living conditions and life situation. So he sets out on an adventure into a different video game to prove his worth as a good guy, and this mission forms the core message of the movie. How Ralph is able to move between games is quite interesting. He’s from an arcade game, and all the machines in the arcade are connected to the same power-board. Through this, the characters can travel between the different game worlds, with the power-board itself serving as a train station. Of course, during the day the characters remain in their own game worlds, acting as the players and the game code instructs. But at night, when everyone is gone, the characters are free to roam as they please between the worlds.
Sound familiar? Yeah, this concept seems to borrow a lot from one of my all-time favourite movies, Toy Story. The whole “secret life when no-one’s around” concept is what Toy Story was built on. And the similarities don’t stop there. There’s also a subplot that echoes elements of the plot of the original movie, with a character going to extreme lengths to sabotage a competitor after his dominance is stolen from him. But Toy Story isn’t the only movie that Wreck It Ralph is similar to. My Dad, who saw it with me, pointed out that it’s sort of similar to Tron. It’s both a more complex and a more simplified version of some of the same concepts. Both are based on the ideas of programs and pieces of code being living things that do as they please when we’re not looking (and even sometimes when we are). Both take place inside a series of connected computers, which form a world where these things live. The computers in this movie are arcade machines, while in Tron they include workstations, arcade machines, and servers. Their storylines aren’t really the same though, because Wreck It Ralph has nothing to do with a super-learning entity trying to take over the universe.
One of the highlights for most people going to see this movie will definitely be getting to see all the old video game characters interact. There’s also a brief appearance by Skrillex as a DJ at a party. For nearly all of them however, their appearances are fleeting. Nonetheless there are countless references to not only video games, past & present, but various other things littered throughout this movie in the dialogue, design and just in the background of particular scenes. They even carry on through the credits. Some of them I got, many of them I didn’t but I appreciated that they were there all the same. I think it would take a good few watch-throughs to spot all the references, and even longer to understand them all.
It’s this level of detail and immersion that builds one of the movie’s most endearing features: its charm. It oozes with that Disney classic lovability. Everything from the characters to the settings, the dialogue to the story have a charm to them you would expect from Disney. In fact, a lot of it is more what you’d expect of Pixar, who made Toy Story and is now owned by Disney so it’s not such a surprise.
One thing I was surprised to find in this movie was product placement. There’s a startlingly large amount of it. Now, that’s not to say that every scene is littered with ads, although those references I mentioned before could be misconstrued as advertising sometimes. No, I just mean that there are a few really blatant moments that linger and focus for a little too long on a named product. A good example is a scene which occurs in one of the other games called “Sugar Rush”, where everything is made out of lollies. A pair of characters find themselves trapped in a pit of quicksand, which has a sign next to it which says “Nesquik-Sand”. Before they start to panic, the two spend a moment to reflect on the wordplay and clearly point out the product. In another part, a child in the arcade is shown placing a quarter on a machine. As we see her do this we are given a good, long close-up of the coin and what’s next to it, a fast food cup with “Subway” clearly emblazoned on it. Now, that proves this isn’t a Pixar movie, because if it was, the cup would say Pizza Planet. These things may not bother everyone, but for me, they break the fantasy a bit, and it annoys me.
Overall, this movie sucked me in, and while I felt that it spent a bit too much time in Sugarland and not enough exploring all the other possible video game worlds, I still enjoyed the glimpse that I received. I wouldn’t say that it’s an instant favourite of mine, although if it had been Pixar I think it might have been, it’s definitely one I want to see again, and to have in my collection. And I hear that there’s the possibility of a sequel involving modern games, so that’s exciting.
Have you seen Wreck It Ralph? What did you think? Did it live up to your expectations? Have I said anything you disagree with? Tell me & everyone else who passes through here what you think in the comment below.
To Infinity and Beyond,
- ‘Wreck-It Ralph 2′ In Development; Director Promises Mario in the Sequel (screenrant.com)
- The Complete ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ Character Guide (screenrant.com)
- A Disney conspiracy? Is ‘Wreck-It-Ralph’ really a Pixar movie in disguise? (examiner.com)