Heart-touching, adult-entertaining kids animation...and it's not Pixar
Loves: Animation, sharing movies with my daughter
Likes: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman
Dislikes: The dearth of traditionally animated movies
Hates: That Brave beat Wreck-It Ralph for the Oscar
The story of a big lug of a video-game villain is deceptively simple at first, as Ralph (John C. Reilly) is tired of being the bad guy day after day in the game Fix-It Felix Jr. The setting lets the movie have a lot of fun with classic video-game references as Felix (Jack McBrayer) saves the day again and again. Frustrated by his lot in life, Ralph goes AWOL in an attempt to become a hero, making his way into the first-person-shooter Hero's Duty, where he attempts to kill invading Cy-bugs alongside Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch.) Things don't go as planned through, and he soon finds himself launched into a candy-themed racing game called Sugar Rush, and he didn't make the trip alone.
An outcast in his own game, and in this new world, he finds a kindred spirit in Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) who wants to compete in the Sugar Rush races, but some faulty programming has rendered her a malfunctioning "glitch." For being different, she's bullied by the other confectionary cartists, and made an outlaw by the strange King Candy (Alan Tudyk channeling Ed Wynn.) Though Ralph wants to help her, King Candy explains the dangers of his interference, though the little guys doesn't seem to be on the up and up. To figure it all out, Ralph has to decide what it means to be a hero and whether a person is what others say they are. It's pretty heady stuff for a kids movie, and it makes for an emotional final quarter of the film that's wrapped in an exciting action blow-out.
Though the candy-inspired world of Sugar Rush and the positive messages were all my daughter needed to make her desire her own Vanellope doll, the film offers plenty for adults to enjoy, from the lush, highly-detailed animation (though even the less-detailed but tonally-perfect world of Fix-It Felix, Jr. is pleasing to the eye) to the well-plotted story. The wealth of video-game references is also sure to draw viewers who played games as a kid or today. These hidden (and not-so-hidden) bits are everywhere in the film, from obvious appearances by famous characters to passing mentions and small visual gags. The cast is also a big reason for older viewers to give the film a look, as it's loaded with cameos by recognizable comedy and animation stars, including Jess Hartnell, Mindy Kaling, Maurice LaMarche, Ed O'Neill, John DiMaggio and Rachel Harris, among many others.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a blow-out presentation for the film, taking the film's bombastic scenes and bringing them to magnificent life. Whether it's a run-and-gun battle scene, a speedy cart race or a boisterous party scene, the room is filled with the scene's sound. One moment, where fireworks are exploding overhead, you can hear explosions throughout your surround speakers, with excellent placement and movement, while the bass pumps out some impressive power to enhance the effects. Even when the film gets a bit quiet (which isn't very frequent), the dialogue is clear and crisp (and often well-placed in the surrounds), and the score is strong and effective. That's not just from a technical perspective, as it adds a sense of joyous energy and sets the tone well for the film.
Back on the 2D disc, you start with "Bit by Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph" (16:40,) which gives you a look inside the making of the film, via interviews with many members of the creative crew, focusing mainly of the different games seen in the film and how their looks, characters and features were developed. The cute touches, like 8-bit avatars for each interviewee, and the chance to take a look inside Walt Disney Animations Studios, make this quality addition.
If you want an even more in-depth look at the film, 14:28 of deleted/alternate scenes are available, with audio commentary from Moore (with co-writer Johnston and story head Jim Reardon.) What's most interesting about these scenes, which are presented in animatics with dialogue, sound effects and music, is how they show an entirely different movie, revealing how dramatically the plot has changed over the course of the film's development. Unfortunately, knowing Moore and company got together to record commentary and we didn't get one on the actual film is a big disappointment.
Some fun promos are included, four video-game commercials running 2:39 in all, though the best is definitely the retro ad for Fix-It Felix, Jr. and the arcade that hosts it. As the ads get more modern, they unfortunately get less authentic and less engaging.
More interesting is Disney Intermission, which is a great idea, though it's hidden in the set-up menu. When it's activated, whenever the film is paused, comedian Chris Hardwick hosts a gamer's guide to the film, which includes 9:23 of segments about the video-game references in the film. A good deal of the time is taken up by the titles though, which repeat with each piece. That said, it's a good use of Hardwick's nerd appeal, and some of the info is interesting to learn. Once you view them all, they repeat randomly.
Wrapping things up, in addition to some trailers, there's also a Digital Copy tutorial (1:04.)
The Bottom Line