'Wreck-It' Ralph is the villain of a 'retro' game in an arcade who is pretty much crapped on for being the villain. He hates it. Who wouldn't? So he decides to embark on a quest to change all of that by 'Game Jumping' via the arcades power outlets. In doing so he upsets the ecosystems of the other game worlds and has to help put things back to normal.
This will most likely be the biggest gripe for anyone who has bought into the marketing for the film. It looks like there is going to be some great references and inter mixing of defined gaming franchises. Spoiler Alert! It is not. To be honest, if you've seen the trailers for the movie, then you have seen about 97% of all the franchise references for the film. Yes there are a few other mixed in with game title 'nods' in the film as well as background images, but these are also played out in the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film. It is being marketed to grab money from all of the gamers out there by using nostalgia as a selling point. I knew it wasn't going to be all gaming reference, but they could have included more as advertised.
Slightly continuing on from the advertising and what we were led to expect, there is a game called Hero's Duty. Fictional game used for the film. One of the main characters from that game is used throughout the film at that. But it is quickly thrown to the side after the story grabs the two elements from it that it needed. It was a great idea and the environment built for it was extremely interesting. But like the above references, it only has a major role (sans the two characters used) for a few minutes as well. Then we are all transported into a game world very fitting for any G rated Disney game and that is where we stay. It does fit, but it is not what we are being led into from the start.
Lastly, to me it seemed like there was a forced plot twist that had a bit of a plot hole mixed with it. I won't mention it directly as it is a major spoiler, but it revolves around the true villain of the story. Maybe it was glanced over during the quick montage of "cameo" appearances, but it made no sense as to what was going on. To put it into non-spoilerific terms, there was a defined event that happened in the story and then it seems like it was forgotten about just so they could get the main villain in the way they wanted to and surprise everyone with it. The sole reason I didn't see it coming was for the fact that writers seemed to forget what they did earlier in the story. If you can overlook that, then it was a fun twist I guess.
Surprisingly, it was the invention of the new gaming worlds over the cameos of existing franchises that I truly enjoyed over anything. Sugar Rush in particular. While in general it is a Mario Kart kind of world based all around candy and sweets, there is a bit of game play design mixed in outside of norm. There is a scene where Vanellope, another protagonist, needs a new kart to race with. Instead of going through the normal choose your parts and stickers; there is a montage video where they are forced to play a few minigames instead. The car they built was based on their skill in the minigames and not just number crunching the stats. It may sound like an odd thing to enjoy in a movie, but to me this was the writers actually thinking in terms of game play instead of just story advancement. Maybe something like this should be used in future kart games. Just saying.
Next I need to praise the pacing of the film. With most animated films like this, there are lull points in the story and action. I'm not talking the slow character building sequences, but the crappy filler stuff just so they can fill an allotted time line. There were a few parts of Wreck-It Ralph that did fall to this with the exception that they didn't slow the pace of the overall film. I won't be specific for spoiler reasons, but they were there. They were just mixed so well that the film didn't get boring even once.
Lastly, the voice work for the film was incredible. Some actors I couldn't tell who they were until the credits were rolling and those that I could tell were entertaining. For instance, I can't stand Sarah Silverman in general but the direction she went with Vanellope made me forget it was her. Alan Tudyk, who is on the other end of the spectrum from Silverman, surprised me even more that he was a voice. He amongst others truly got to show their range and talent here. In the end they all made the characters of the film overly remember able as should always be the case when all you get is their voice to convey all of the emotions and subtext involved.
In the end, was it worth the time and money? If you go into it with the mindset that this is like Toy Story just with video games, you will enjoy it. By no means am I saying it is on par with TS, but that should be more of the mentality over thinking it is going to be filled to the brim with all the nostalgia and inside jokes of the gaming community. They are there, just kind of hammered out quick and then few and far through the rest of the film.
Wreck-It Ralph stars John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, and Jane Lynch. It hits theaters on November 2nd. I got to see it via an early screening from Walt Disney Animation Studios.