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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/5/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/27/2013
It's got to be weird. For decades, Disney was the industry leader in feature fiml animation and no one could come close to them. Their hand-drawn animated films were hailed as classics and were box-office hits. Then, in the mid-90s, CG animation began to take root. Pixar was the driving force behind this revolution, and Disney aided with their distribution and marketing. While the Pixar films took off, Disney offerings like Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet fizzled. In 2005, Disney changed their strategy by going the CG route as well with Chicken Little. This was followed byMeet the Robinsons and Bolt, which saw moderate success. Being the driven company they are, we all knew that it was just a matter of time before a Disney Animation Studios CG film hit it out of the park.
Wreck-It Ralph takes place inside the video game world of a group of machines which reside in an arcade. In the game "Fix-It Felix, Jr.", Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) destroys an apartment building, and it's up to the game's hero, Felix (voiced by Jack McBrayer) to fix it. The game is retro and after 30 years of smashing the building, Ralph is tired of being the bad guy (as he tells his self-help group). After Ralph crashes and ruins, the games 30th anniversary party, he decides to leave the game and find a way to be a hero. All of the games in the arcade are connected through surge protectors, so Ralph travels to the first-person shooter game "Hero's Duty". Things there go awry, and Ralph finds himself in "Sugar Rush", a candy-themed cart-racing game. There, he meets Vanellope Von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman), an outcast who isn't allowed to race. Ralph wants to continue with his quest to become a hero, but he feels compelled to his this girl. Little does Ralph know how both actions are about to merge.
Let's start with the obvious; Wreck-It Ralph has some ingenious ideas. Many people under the age of 50 have been to an arcade and are familiar with video games. The film captures the world of retro-gaming, which also drawing parallels to games like "Halo" and "Mario Kart", so that those younger viewers who have never set foot inside of an arcade (outside of Chuck E. Cheese) will know what is going on. The fact that the games are connected through a surge protector, whose interior looks like Grand Central Station, is a stroke of genius, and introduces an easy to understand way for Ralph to move from game-to-game. The makers of Wreck-It Ralph went through a lot of trouble to acquire permission to feature many familiar video game characters and spotting them becomes one of the most endearing parts of the game. (I love that the Hatchet Zombie from "House of the Dead" has a prominent cameo.)
The, we have the story, which originally featured Felix as the main character. Focusing on Ralph puts a different spin on thing. For older gamers who watched Donkey Kong roll barrel after barrel, or the Space Invaders drop bomb after bomb, it's fun to think that those characters would grow bored of their lives and want something different. In the world of the game, Ralph is almost like an actor. He goes through the motions of wrecking the building and being tossed off the roof at the end, but when the day is done, he's a gentle soul who just wants respect. Felix could have easily been Ralph's opposite, an egotistical jerk who revels in being the hero, but, as voiced by Jack McBrayer, Felix is simply doing his job. Ralph's quest to be a hero may be selfish and misguided, but he's so kind-hearted that we never fault him for it. The changes which Ralph goes through in "Sugar Rush" help to keep the viewer behind him.
While Wreck-It Ralph does get many things right, it's not without its problems. The movie spends too much time in "Sugar Rush", as this world gets old pretty fast. The Vanellope character is meant to be a lovable brat, but more often she simply comes across as a brat. Sarah Silverman's voice is grating at times and the third act seems more buoyant when Vanellope isn't on-screen. Speaking of the third act, it seems that the Disney animators have unfortunately taken a cue from Pixar and made the movie too long. There are too many false endings here and things should have wrapped up sooner.
If you'd asked me a year ago how I thought an animated film about video games starring John C. Reilly would have turned out, I'm not sure that I would have had much confidence in it. But, Wreck-It Ralph is a charming and clever movie. The animation looks fantastic and we want to play all of the games featured. There are some funny moments, and the ending is touching, making for a nice emotional package. Children will love the world of "Sugar Rush", while adults will have embrace the jokes about Pac-Man. Wreck-It Ralph is that rare film where a clever idea actually pans out, resulting in an entertaining movie.
Wreck-It Ralph features the saddest Qbert scene ever on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray Disc set offers two versions of the film. The 2D version has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. It's amazing to go from the dark world of "Hero's Duty" to the pastel world of "Sugar Rush" and see how well the colors are handled here. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is dynamite and we can see the work which went into the character design. The depth, even in this 2D version, looks great. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.3 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. From the outset, we are treated to detailed stereo and surround sound effects. In the action sequences, we get some nicely placed surround effects which can easily be picked out from the rest of the audio. The stereo separation is good, especially when the carts go by. The subwoofer effcts are strong, most notably during "Hero's Duty".
The set also includes a Blu-ray 3D. Here, the film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc offers an MVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22/8 Mbps. Just as it did in the theater, the image offers a great deal of depth. The characters are clearly separate from the backgrounds. The depth in the Game Station scenes is great. We also get some mild, but well-placed effects where things pop-out of the screen. This is never done in a hokey manner -- simply in way which makes things more immersive. The 3D version is not too dark and the image is never muddy. This Disc carries the same audio as the 2D Disc.
The Wreck-It Ralph Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Paperman" (7 minutes), a short which accompanied Wreck-It Ralph in theaters is included here. "Bit by Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph" (17 minutes) offers comments from the creative team and animators, who discuss the story (which was different in the beginning) and the look of the film. The piece specifically looks at how different environments had to be created and how the various characters in those worlds look and move differently. This includes some concept art and models. The Disc contains four ALTERNATE & DELETED SCENES which run about 14 minutes, including an introduction from Director Rich Moore. These scenes can also be viewed with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Moore. These are presented in storyboard and animatic form and they appear to be based on an early draft of the script. Most of this is taken up by a scene in which Ralph meets a character who sounds like Matthew McConaughey. We next get "Video Game Commercials" which run about 3-minutes total. These are faux retro (with a VHS look) and faux modern TV ads for the games featured in the film. I rarely complain about a lack of extras, but I thought that there would be something showing the voice actors. The Blu-ray 3D contains "Paperman" in 3D.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.