By Bevan McCrory
The market for video-game themed movies has always been abysmal. Ever since the world was “blessed” with The Super Mario Brothers movie in 1993, we have been subjected to one bad video-game movie after another. Whether it was based on an actual franchise or merely attempting to portray the gamer lifestyle (see William Bell’s magnum opus “Stay Alive” ), video-game movies have always been a sad state of affairs. Needless to say, I was cautiously optimistic when I heard that Disney would be making a movie about a video-game villain looking to change his stripes and become a hero. Luckily for me, that cautious optimism paid off when I had the privilege to finally see Wreck-it Ralph.
Wreck-it Ralph follows a standard “down on his luck hero” plot layout: Ralph (played by John C. Riley) is dissatisfied with his life, Ralph tries to fix what’s wrong with his life, wackiness ensues, roll credits. Unlike other Disney movies that follow this formula, Wreck-it Ralph manages to weave Ralph’s story with that of other characters, making the titular character more of a co-star than the focus of attention. While Ralph certainly drives the plot, it is Sarah Silverman’s character, the “glitch” character Vanellope von Schweets of Mario Kart-esque Sugar Rush, that really steals the show. Vanellope is in no small terms the most adorable character I have ever seen in a movie, and at the same time one of the most tragic. Sarah Silverman manages to portray a smart-alecky little girl as a deep and tragic character who, when juxtaposed against the literally candy-coated cuteness of her world, seems even more tragic.
Also of great note is the main villain King Candy, portrayed by the greatly underrated Alan Tudyk, a character who is so interesting and well played that I feel that speaking too much of him would spoil the film. Needless to say, King Candy is a much more interesting character than he first seems, and I would encourage those of you who plan on Wrecking it yourself sometime soon to pay attention to this seemingly benign saccharine monarch.
Ultimately, though, the real stars of the show are the film’s numerous one liners and gaming/candy references. Call backs to Soda Tapper, Pac-Man, Street Fighter abound, and any video-game character that speaks is voiced by his/her actual voice actor. In other words, Sonic sounds like Sonic, M. Bison sounds like M.Bison, and Ken and Ryu sound like Ken and Ryu.
Wreck-it Ralph sets the bar high for any future video-game movies. No longer do nerds (myself included) have to fear that video-game films can only merely be quick cash-in’s, made merely to rob teenage boys (and nerdy adults) of their money. Finally there is a film made by nerds, for nerds, and yet one that will be widely accepted by people who may not get the Mario Party jokes.