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Wreck-It Ralph: Finally a Video Game Movie That Works

View Chris Kavan's Profile

By Chris Kavan - 11/04/12 at 01:13 PM CT

Hollywood has hurt me too many times. Why is it so hard to make a decent movie out of an existing franchise? I mean, it's right there - character, story, action, emotion (most of the time) - all you have to do is come up with an interesting and novel way to present that to audiences. But has Hollywood really ever had success with that? Well, let's see what we have had up to deal with up to this point in time:

Remember this?

Or this?

Or THIS?

If you do, I'm sorry, because those are all examples of how easy it is to take a great video game and turn it into a terrible film. Even the movies that I thought were OK - Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider - are just that: OK. They don't add anything to the video game experience. They are mediocre at best - entertaining, but ultimately empty.

But, this weekend, I'm happy to report a movie finally captures the spirit of video games and manages to make a film that doesn't just work as an animated film, not just a video game film - but an actual, honest-to-goodness great film that stands on its own.

Wreck-It Ralph already caught my attention after I heard about all the video game cameos were announced. They range from true classics (Q-bert, Frogger, even Pong) to Street Fighter and Metal Gear Solid references. Do yourself a favor and stay thought the end credits for a real Easter egg.

Beyond getting in some great cameos, the movie itself gets the video game culture right. You start with the 8-bit Wreck-It Ralph game - a mix of Rampage and Donkey Kong that looks like it would fit right in line with retro classics.

Let's go on to Hero's Duty - a FPS that looks to be a homage of sorts to Halo and the like. It's all action, all the time - Cy-Bugs attack en masse, the main character (voiced by Jane Lynch) has "the most tragic backstory in the history of video games" with amazing CG and a rocking soundtrack to boot.

Finally we have Sugar Rush - a kart racing game that is sweet - literally, with candy can forests, Nesquik sand and a Diet Cola Mountain with Mentos geysers. It's where King Candy (supremely-voiced by Alan Tudyk channeling his inner Mad Hatter) rules with an iron sweet tooth, where racers such as Taffyta Muttonfudge, Rancis Fluggerbutter and Crumbelina De Caramello race for supremacy. It's also where Vanellope von Schweets (Sarah Silverman), a glitch in the game, looks to rejoin her fellow racers. The music matches the setting - ultra peppy, J-pop that might make you go into diabetic shock.

It's obvious the people in charge know their games, however, all the animated perfection and little touches would mean nothing if the film didn't have a good story and heart. On both counts, the movie still succeeds. There is emotion and depth you don't always get with so-called "kids" movies. Heck, the film even manages to throw in a twist I didn't see coming (a feat that in an of itself is pretty amazing). Even the main characters have a surprising amount of development.

When you put everything together, Wreck-It Ralph proves one point: you can make a competent video game movie. Maybe the trick is to go with an original concept and stop trying to adapt existing material. Hey, it works for me - and if it can turn out this well, maybe Hollywood has finally found a way to coexist with the video game world.

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Nelson Schneider

Wrote on11/11/12 at 02:52 PM CT

Jonzor, I will never own an Apple product.

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Jonzor

Wrote on11/06/12 at 11:28 PM CT

If you'd like to play Fix-it Felix Jr., feel free to buy an iPod and download the actual iOS version of the game based on the game in the movie based on games based... whoa... I need to lie down...

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Chris

Wrote on11/06/12 at 08:57 PM CT

There will always be tie-ins with this type of movie - toys, books, games and the like. Disney did make a retro version of the Fix-It Felix, Jr. game on their website - but it's too bad the "official" game is a standard generic and terrible licensed garbage that we see from so many other movies. I, for one, would much rather play an actual version of the games in the movie (any of them - Sugar Rush, Hero's Duty and Fix-It Felix, Jr.) rather than what we got. Will it happen? Maybe success will mean actually looking into it, but I wouldn't hold my breath - plus, even if they do, other than the 8-bit game, it would be tough to capture the same feeling you get from the film (which is why it's so hard to get good games based on movies and vice versa).

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Nelson Schneider

Wrote on11/05/12 at 09:53 PM CT

I do think the original material is why Wreck-It Ralph was able to shine. When you look at bad game adaptions of movies (Lord of the Rings: The Third Age) or bad movie adaptions of games (any of those you mentioned), the cause seems to be too much reliance on a specific set of story materials included in the shared license, with the rest filled-out with non-canon fluff that feels made-up, inconsistent, and out of place.

With ALL of the major characters coming from entirely fabricated games, they don't have to worry about any of that stuff. I think this is the reason why Toy Story used primarily made-up toys for the main roles...

But that begs the question: What will become of Ralph and co. once the Disney marketing blitz hits? Woody and Buzz Lightyear are actual toys now, one of them with a horrible Saturday morning cartoon! Will Fix-It Felix Jr., Hero's Doody, and Sugar Rush all get full console releases? Will they spawn the inevitable string of sequels? Why is the actual Wreck-It Ralph videogame tie-in a crappy, uninspired platformer with no resemblance to the games in the movie and appearing on two dead systems (Wii and DS) and two handhelds (3DS and iOS)? I've already seen Ralph Fists and character action figures for this movie in the weekly toy ads... Go Disney?

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