Cinema review: Wreck-It Ralph

By Chris Higgins

Wreck-It Ralph smashes onto cinema screens this weekend and MM sneaks a peek at Manchester’s Odean cinema to see whether the arcade blockbuster can keep up with Disney’s recent form.

Ralph is the villain of an arcade game. He wrecks things, the hero fixes them, and it never changes.

This daily drudge sees our titular anti-hero attending a support group for videogame antagonists, to voice his grievances at never being rewarded for being the mandatory jerk.

Forced to accept that he is a “bad guy” and can never change that, Ralph is determined to show he can be a hero and leaves his arcade cabinet in search of a medal to prove it.

Cue an entire screenful of videogame cameos and tropes so varied it would challenge even the most hardened joystick veteran to name every one (very well done if you got them all at home).

As Ralph skips from game to game in search of overdue appreciation, he meets the saccharine and brattishly annoying Vanellope von Schweetz, a glitchy character in a karting game who is shunned by the other racers for her instability.

The two team up to get what they both want and end up on a voyage of self-realisation, acceptance and, ultimately, redemption, with a story so investing you’d be forgiven for reaching for the tissues.

Heavyweight comedy stars including John C. Reilly (Ralph), Sarah Silverman (Vanellope) and Jack McBrayer (Ralph’s counter-part Fix-it Felix, Jr) show their versatility by keeping up the laughs while bringing the characters to life, imparting their own personalities to each role.

Silverman really shines here by turning an otherwise unlikeable brat into an adorably tenacious punk by the end of the movie.

The animation really steps up to the plate too, with movements of some of the more retro characters mimicking their game’s animation styles, quick jerky motions and jump sound effects add a nice sheen of polish to an already impeccable production.

Since taking on talent from step-sister studio Pixar, Disney’s animated department has seen a renaissance after producing sub-par CGI films such as Bolt and Meet The Robinsons.

But after 2010’s Tangled and this newest offering, Disney seem to have definitely found their feet in the new world of 3D animation.

With Pixar chief John Lasseter at the production reins and Simpsons/Futurama veteran Rich Moore in the director’s chair, the latest outing for Disney’s increasingly accomplished animation department has all the makings of greatness.

The end result is an enthralling journey full of relatable characters, imaginative worlds and more than a quarter’s worth of videogame references.

Perfect weekend watching material, for both kids and bigger kids.

In cinemas nationwide from February 8. MM watched Wreck-It Ralph at The Odeon at The Printworks, Manchester.

Image courtesy of Walt Disney via YouTube, with thanks.

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