Wreck-it Ralph Movie Review
Visually ambitious and packed with inside jokes for arcade gamers, this colourful animated adventure is an enjoyable romp but is probably too energetic for its own good. It simply never settles down so that we can sink into its various settings or get to know its lively characters. So in the end we've enjoyed the talent of the animators and the vocal cast, but we feel rather exhausted.
The story is set in a vintage 1980s arcade game called Fix-it Felix Jr, in which Felix (voiced by McBrayer) must repair damage inflicted by Ralph's (Reilly)massive fists. But after 30 years, Ralph is tired of being the unloved villain. He wants to be the good guy for a change, so heads across the room into another game, the combat role-play adventure Hero's Duty. There he's trained by tough-talking squadron leader Calhoun (Lynch) and battles space insects to win a medal and escape. But a killer bug follows him into the candy-themed road-race game Sugar Rush, threatening the balance of the whole arcade.
The majority of the plot takes place here, as Ralph teams up with unloved "glitch" Vanellope to challenge the smiling tyrant King Candy (Tudyk). Unlike the pixellated Fix-it Felix Jr and the virtual reality of Hero's Duty, Sugar Rush is a pink-hued, delicious-looking land of sugary treats. Each of these games, and the transfer station between them, is populated by spirited characters with their own subplots. And there are also appearances by iconic favourites such as Pac-Man, Mario and Q*bert. So with the different animation styles and eclectic ensemble of characters, our eyes aren't bored for a second.
On the other hand, all of this mayhem wears us down, as scenes never settle in long enough for us to get a sense of who these characters are. At least the animators and actors add plenty of detail, with Reiley giving a terrific sense of inner life to Ralph and Lynch stealing her scenes with all the best lines ("I have the most tragic back-story ever!"). And each scene is packed with clever word-play and visual gags that feel subversive even if it's all rather ridiculous. But in the end, it's also just deranged enough to keep us laughing, and sweet enough to make us sigh.