Tag Archives: Wreck-It Ralph

Oscar gets it right…

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It’s funny how time changes you.

There was a point where the Academy Awards were quite a big deal for me.  I did my best to see nominated films, had an opinion on buzzed-about performances and genuinely looked forward to the ceremony itself, even with the cheesy, self-congratulatory, megawatt pageantry which is so frequently inherent in the telecast.

That ship, it would appear, has sailed.

The still above, from Disney‘s glorious animated short subject winner “Paperman”, represents the only major award winner that I saw at the cinema prior to the ceremony this year.   Attached to “Wreck-It Ralph“, it didn’t do anything more revolutionary than tell a simple love story without words and

Which means that I’ve missed out on “Argo“, “Life of Pi“, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Les Miserables”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln”.  And I’m mostly okay with that.

I will definitely get around to watching “Zero Dark…” as Kathryn Bigelow can do little wrong in my eyes, and I’ve enjoyed everything that Ben Affleck has done as a director, but I can’t get excited about the sort of films which have been nominated in the last few years:  Vaguely Traditional Musical, Obligatory Mainstream Hit, Ersatz, Quirky Pseudo-Indie Flick, Crossover Foreign Arthouse Piece – these, it seems,  are your options when it comes to February and the solemn bestowing of Little Gold Men.

And that is my problem – the woefully predictable Oscar Bait which surfaces in the Autumn and defines the race from thereon.  There’s simply no room for a genuine surprise, as even a left-field entry like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” has all edges removed and uncomfortable, below-the-surface truths obscured by the PR hive-mind in order to pitch an alternative, life-affirming narrative about debuting actress Quvenzhané Wallis.  It’s the equivalent of patting the cheeky little kid on the head and ignoring all the stuff about post-Hurricane Katrina communities because that awkward stuff doesn’t exactly uplift.

Grumpy old man – moi?

 

 

 

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“Wreck-It Ralph” – the ultimate video game movie?

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Video games and movies – traditionally uncomfortable bedfellows, wouldn’t you agree?   Made on the cheap, by inexperienced directors graduating from making adverts and frequently starring actors who would clearly rather be doing something else, the list of video game adaptations is a list of movies which aim low and miss even that humble goal.

So, perhaps, a different strategy is required?

Disney‘s “Wreck-It Ralph” is a movie set in the world of arcade games, has cameo appearances from many classic gaming characters and does such a good job of imbibing the essence of video games and utilising the best aspects of film that you wonder why in the name of Mario Mario anybody would want to make a cheap cash-in action flick out of an FPS when they could be doing something far more worthwhile – and financially lucrative – like this.

The film follows the titular anti-hero, voiced wonderfully by John C. Reilly, who toils as the archetypal bad guy in 1980’s arcade game “Fix-It Felix Jnr.”  A combination of career fatigue, hostile co-workers and a lack of cake prompts Ralph to experience a mid-life crisis and our protagonist realises that he no longer wants to be bad.  As noble an ambition as that is, the video game world needs antagonists and Ralph soon realises that he’s going to have to take matters into his own gigantic, 8-bit hands by winning a medal and reaping the spoils which come from ascending an arcade game’s leader boards.

Sweet Wheels, pint-size.

Sweet Wheels, pint-size.

Though steeped in nerdy video game arcana – oh hai there, Konami code! – “Wreck-It Ralph” functions best as a propulsive action adventure with a simple and mostly unobtrusive moral about the importance of not judging books by their cover, and is well served by a talented voice cast.  Reilly is impeccable as the sad sack wannabe nice guy, Sarah Silverman is just on the right side of the cute/annoying divide as game glitch Vanellope, as ostracised by the other characters in her kart racer game “Sugar Rush” as Ralph is in his digital home.

You don’t need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of arcade gaming, home consoles and game trivia to get the most out of “…Ralph” – sensibly, this film concentrates on inhabiting the world and giving a layer of delightful referential subtext for fans to geek out over whilst allowing a young audience to enjoy a blisteringly-paced adventure with so many primary colours on screen during the “Sugar Rush” race sequences that you’ll think you’re having some sort of acid flash-forward.

A must for gamers, a safe bet for family audiences and a fine addition to the ongoing canon of Disney animation, “Wreck-It Ralph” is a deftly-made, charming example of what the House of Mouse does best and illustrates the combination of artistry and storytelling which marks them out from their competitors in the overcrowded CG animation field.

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Filed under Films, Gaming, Geekery