Twitter Plot Summary: Wreck-It Ralph has been a bad guy for 30 years. Now he wants to be a good guy – can he make the switch?
Five Point Summary:
1. Hah, Bowser!
2. Hero’s Duty? Sounds a bit like… oh right, yeah.
3. And meet the cutesy girl character in the cutesy land.
4. They’re crossing the streams! As it were.
5. Oh right, so that’s why King Candy is so delightfully evil.
Pixar’s movies often feature an outsider seeking acceptance in one form or another, the protagonist a misunderstood person who secretly wants more from their life. In this case, Ralph is the villain of classic video game Fix-It Felix Jr, who on the eve of the 30th anniversary of his game’s release attends a support group meeting where video game bad guys discuss their woes. After 30 years of being the villain and, as he puts it, living alone in the garbage rather than being allowed to join in with all the fun, he wants to be recognised as a hero for once,
Pixar have created a believable and well-realised world in which the characters from every game in the arcade exist and can interact. This is Game Central, a hub linking each of the games and acting much like a train station. It’s from here that Ralph decides to jump into other games in the quest for recognition and a medal to clearly demonstrate that he’s not all bad after all.
Other than Game Central where all of the video game characters interact, much of the story takes place within three video game worlds, namely Hero’s Duty (a first person shooter), Sugar Rush, a sickly sweet racing world, and of course Fix-It Felix Jr, a 2D 8-bit video game from the 1980s that owes much of its design to Donkey Kong. In the world of Sugar Rush he meets glitchy character Vanellope who dreams of being a racer, and it’s here that much of the story takes place.
Wreck-It Ralph features a huge number of loving references to video games history and its characters, both old and new. Fans of the world of video games will get a lot from those references, not only because there’s lots of them but because there are some fun blink and you’ll miss it references (Metal Gear Solid gets specific mention for a 2 second easter egg). It’s a shame that some of the more recognisable video game mascots aren’t seen (Mario, Lara Croft, Crash Bandicoot etc), but the appearance of Sonic, Street Fighter stalwarts and even a brief cameo from Mario’s enemy Bowser help balance this out.
John C Reilly is loveable as the big, destructive hulk that is Ralph, a warm and welcome presence in the lead role. Around him are equally as enjoyable characters, including Jack McBrayer as Fix-It Felix, essentially a Mario clone, and Sarah Silverman provides spark as Vanellope. Jane Lynch offers gutsy support as Sergeant Calhoun, a character ripped from the Call of Duty-esque Hero’s Duty. On villain duties is Alan Tudyk as King Candy, and it goes without saying that his performance is superb as always, a pitch-perfect balance of slime and wily cunning that would make Blackadder proud.
If there is any sense of a misstep it’s that arcades are a shadow of what they used to be back in the 1980s, and there is almost no possibility that the arcade linking Game Central would exist in the real world today. But then this is not something that plays a part within Wreck-It Ralph’s world and certainly isn’t something that the young audience need to be aware of to enjoy the film. It’s a well thought out world with enjoyable characters and situations, and that’s what it needed in order to succeed.