First Review: Wreck-It Ralph ★★★★☆

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Whilst it may not join the cannon of all time Disney greats such as The Lion King and Toy Story, Wreck-It Ralph will not disappoint for entertainment value. Smart, funny and brilliant animation, it is definitely the best family-comedy of the year.

The film follows video-game villain Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) who is tired of being the ‘bad-guy’ in his arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr. After 30 years of smashing buildings which gets repaired by handyman Felix, Ralph has had enough and decides to become a hero. Travelling between games to find a medal to prove he is a good guy, he must ultimately eliminate a threat that could close all the games in the arcade.

This film is certainly not just for video-game fans. The story is one that both adults and children can enjoy, with scattered references to the gaming world for those familiar with certain tropes. Particular favourites include a ‘Bad-Anon’ session where video game villains all meet to discuss their problems, unlocking a door with the Konami code that features on many real video games and the creatures from Q*bert who are now homeless because their game had been shut down. Whilst this may not mean a lot to some people who aren’t familiar with classic arcade games, it is by no means alienating and is there to create a sense of authenticity that without it, would make the film feel empty.

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The voice acting is fantastic and all the roles are perfectly casted. Reily plays an extremely endearing Ralph who you can’t help but not fall in love with. Jane Lynch as Sergeant Calhoun from the game Hero’s Duty is also on top-form and fits the character perfectly. However the star of the film is Vanellope von Schweet, voiced by Sarah Silverman, who is fantastic as the girl racer who is looking for acceptance, but is shunned because she is a ‘glitch’ in the game. Her tale is very heart-warming and her energy and sprightliness bring the film to life. Even more impressive is the fact the film has the highest number of original characters created for a Walt Disney film, at a staggering 188: Wreck-It Ralph’s world is expansive and filled with characters that are both charming and funny.

The animation is, as always, first class from a Disney Production. The gaming worlds Ralph finds himself in are diverse and imaginative which are rich in detail and colour. The film was presented in Real-D 3D which, as always, never adds anything to the cinematic experience. Although it is the most successful use of 3D in an animated feature since Avatar, it is still distracting and darkens the image which takes you out of such am immersive world.

It misses out on a full five stars for a few minor issues. The film starts off brilliantly paced as John C. Reilly’s voice-over portrays Ralph’s dissatisfaction with not being appreciated for his efforts. The film’s second half however loses focus and you may find yourself waiting for something to happen for a while, with even set pieces occasionally losing my interest.

There is plenty to love in this film. The world of Wreck-It Ralph is beautiful on the big-screen, with vivid colours and wonderful scenery. The characters are all brilliantly voiced by a fantastic cast and the story is simple yet effective, with even a plot twist that you won’t see coming. Disney have struck gold once again, with a film that has the adventure and the humour for both children and adults. A real joy.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012), directed by Rich Moore, is distributed in the UK by Walt Disney Pictures, Certificate PG.

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