Ralph was robbed! It was really no surprise to anyone that Disney?Pixar’s Brave took home top honors at the 85th Academy Awards. The Best Animated Feature Film category is essentially Pixar’s to lose every year, and as much as I hate to say it, they didn’t deserve to take home the Oscar this year. Wreck-It Ralph, from their sister studio Walt Disney Animation Studios, was in my opinion the best animated film of the year, and I’m not just saying that as a video game fan (well, maybe just a little bit).
Honestly, the primary reason we’re spending the time to review Wreck-It Ralph (the 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack) is because it’s a film set in the world of video and arcade games, both real and fictional. We’re not movie reviewers and certainly won’t delve deep into what makes Wreck-It Ralph a great film as compared to a great piece of entertainment; we’ll leave that to the real movie reviewers who have dissected it may times over at this point. What we will do is wholeheartedly recommend Wreck-It Ralph as an enjoyable, quality, family film that touches on just enough retro gaming memories to hook us long time gamers.
Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is a bad guy, in videogame terms. But as Zangief (from the Street Fighter series) makes sure to note during their Bad-Anon support group meetings in the movie, that does not make him or other gaming antagonists “bad guys”. Gamers in the world of Wreck-It Ralph see Fix It Felix, Jr (voiced by Jack McBrayer) as the hero and Ralph as the enemy, and upon reaching their 30th anniversary of working in the Fix It Felix, Jr game together, Ralph is no longer content with being just thought of as a giant, evil, ham-fisted meany who does nothing other than destroy buildings. Ralph knows that while it’s essentially his job to play the role of the bad guy, he finally wants a little respect. If Fix It Felix can get medals, pies and the admiration of the game characters for repairing Ralph’s destructive antics, then why can’t the tables be turned and Ralph be the good guy for once? So in a quest to prove he can indeed be a hero (or at least earn a medal of his own), Ralph decides to “game hop” in order to do just that.
On his journey he meets up with the hard-nosed Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch) from the fictional Hero’s Duty FPS and pint-sized troublemaker Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) from the super sweet Sugar Rush kart racing game. And that’s where all the fun starts.
As a retro arcade and videogame fan, Wreck-It Ralph made me smile from the opening title to the closing credits. Seeing all the care that Disney put into recreating the familiar characters, the retro 8-bit animation and sprite effects, and the soft CRT phosphor glow of the simulated arcade monitors put a huge smile on my face. The movie is not about these classic game personalities of course, but seeing representations of characters and environments from Pac-Man, Tapper, Q-Bert, Frogger, BurgerTime, Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter II and others on screen was wonderful. Some of the gags and references are fairly obvious, though others, such as the Konami code, “Sheng Long Was Here” and “Aerith lives” graffiti, and the Metal Gear Solid exclamation point (!) certainly made me chuckle. As with most well-written animated films, Wreck-It Ralph has many layers making it work for both children and adults, and in this case, gaming fans and non-fans alike.
Wreck-It Ralph looks exceptional on Blu-ray as expected, and the 3D actually works extremely well with the movie’s theme and setting. The audio, in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, sounds incredible on any halfway decent audio setup of course.
The 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack, which includes individual discs for Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy, is the full package, though for those lacking a 3D TV or don’t care for a digital copy, the 2-Disc set (Blu-ray + DVD) would probably be more suitable. Either way you get a nice amount of bonus features to dig through as listed below. The retro-style Wreck-It Ralph arcade commercial, Bit by Bit and Paperman short are definite highlights, along with the Disney Intermission feature with Chris Hardwick (Blu-ray only).
Bit by Bit: Creating the Worlds of ?Wreck-It Ralph? ? Fans of the film will get a look at five new worlds created for ?Wreck-It Ralph.? The short takes viewers into Game Central Station with the artists who brought Sugar Rush, Hero?s Duty and Fix It Felix Jr. to life.
Alternate & Deleted Scenes ? Four separate scenes are highlighted with an introduction and optional audio commentary from director Rich Moore.
Video Game Commercials ? Viewers can check out the commercials created for the video games featured in the film – Fix It Felix Jr., Sugar Rush, Hero?s Duty and Fix It Felix Hammer.
?Paperman? ? This animated short film played in theaters before ?Wreck It Ralph.? It tells the story of a young man in an office who sees the girl of his dreams in a skyscraper window across the street. But how can he get her attention?
Disney Intermission: The Gamer?s Guide to ?Wreck-It-Ralph? ? When the film is paused, host Chris Hardwick appears on screen to guide viewers through a series of 10 video segments offering an inside look at the many video game references, Disney references and other hidden surprises featured in the film.
If you’re a videogame fan and/or a fan of animated movies, Wreck-It Ralph on Blu-ray is very much worth owning.