Wreck-It Ralph was the surprise hit of 2012. People were expecting good things from a Disney Animated film, but nothing of this caliber. Some have even called it the best film of 2012! I didn't catch it in the theater sadly, but now I've made it. It comes with no surprise that I'm a pretty big gamer, I've been one for years and years. I claim I'm a Mario and Nintendo fan, which is true, but my first console was actually the original Playstation. I soon got the Game Boy Color (remember when color was a big deal?) with Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. While I've never played the classics like Super Mario World or Sonic and Knuckles on their original consoles, I have played all of them through the many ports. And of course one can't watch this movie without having played Pac Man. I saw Brave recently, the movie which won the Golden Globe award for best animated picture. I'm tempted to say the Oscars were rigged in that department, Wreck-It Ralph is easily the superior movie. It's a really well done film with great characters, visuals, and twists.
The story is rather different, since it takes place inside the arcade games. Ralph is the bad guy of the game Fix-it Felix Jr. The problem? He's tired of the title character getting all the glory and living in the dump. So he sets out to find a medal, because when he gets it he will be treated with respect and given a place in the penthouse. However, his mission leads him to the game Heroes Duty, where he'll have to fight his way through killer bugs. The journey to achievement brings him to the game Sugar Rush, where he meets a girl named Vanellope, who happens to be a glitch...or is she? Twists and turns accumulate to one heck of a final battle.
The film early on establishes its unique atmosphere, having the classic animation of sailor Mickey in 8-bit form. Then we're treated to the Fix-it Felix arcade system. (Which is right next to Pac Man!) This story is so unique that it actually takes us within the arcade from the characters' point of view. They live solely in the game, it's interesting to see the system and how characters react. One of the best scenes is near the beginning, with Ralph at a support group for bad guys. I don't how Disney did it, but they managed to have a lot of familiar faces here. In the meeting we have Bower and Dr. Eggman in the same room! (Who didn't get a good laugh from Bowser's cup of coffee?) Not to mention Bison and Clyde. (Orange Ghost from Pac Man.) It is so clever how they used the center in the game where the Ghosts emerge as their meeting base. (Then you see the rest of them leaving it like they are actually part of the system.)
The movie soon introduces us to Game Central Station. It's basically a Grand Central Terminal for all the gaming characters. (Sonic gets a nice on-the-screen appearance reminding everyone to never die in other games.) It's a really cool place for longtime gamers to see. (Look out for Frogger!) There are plenty of cameos in the film only gamers will appreciate. When Ralph is looking in a treasure chest he pulls out a Super Mushroom and Metal Gear's !. (Complete with sound effect.) Let's talk characters. Ralph's story of not wanting to be the bad guy anymore was handled extremely well. We root for him as he enters the penthouse because they're having the 30th anniversary party without him. (The bartender in there looks strangely like Nintendo's mascot.) Along the way we run into Vanellope, a nine year old girl who happens to be a 'glitch.' When the first trailer came out, it gave the indication that she would be an annoying side character. It's actually quite the opposite. Her story of being a 'glitch' (which is smartly incorporated for gamers to get) is touching and in the end we root for her. (Who didn't get that warm feeling inside when she gave Ralph the 'you're my hero' cookie?) Then we have Fix-it Felix Jr. (Whom is basically Mario.) He's a pretty likable video game protagonist. However, a highlight was Sergeant Calhoun, the protagonist of Hero Duty, She's basically Lara Croft or Samus Aran, a tough as-nails-female fighter. It was pretty neat how she was 'programmed' with the saddest backstory. We also have King Candy, the ruler of Sugar Rush. The plot twist with him was really surprising. I will say that his dialogue with Ralph about Vanellope was very convincing, great stuff there.
All this an alien bugs! Hero's Duty is basically Starship Troopers confined into a single game. Aside from the main antagonist, these Cy-Bugs are the villains. (One of them even latches onto Ralph's face like a Facehugger.) It's pretty cool how their goal is to just consume and will keep on consuming unless a beacon calls them back. (Now it makes sense why computer-controlled creatures are so wild in those first person arcade shooters.) The visuals are really fun to look at. I must commend how 'video game like' it was, such as the way citizens in the Fix-it game move. Sugar Rush is such a 'treat' (pun intended) to view. Remember the board game Candy Land? Picture than in beautiful CGI. It's clever how the snack 'devil dogs' are used as actual guard dogs, and Oreos as royal subjects. Early on Bison mentions if Ralph is going 'Turbo.' (Which I thought was a reference to Street Fighter's many re-releases.) Nope, it turns out 'Turbo' was actually a a character within the video game TurboTime that got jealous of another game. The backstory is excellent. The soundtrack went well enough with the film, with the end title 'When Can I See You Again' by Owl City being a highlight. It didn't have as many catchy tunes as I would have liked, but it's solid enough.
Overall, Wreck-It Ralph is one of the greatest animated movies in recent times. The story is handled well with many likable characters. Ralph's story is understandable from the start, as is Vanellope's. The two of them form a bond that is fleshed out well and of course very heartwarming. Have I mentioned that Sonic, Bowser, Bison, Dr. Eggman, and even Pac Man appear? The concept was amazing from the beginning and was fantastic to see, which is sure to get a few laughs from the viewers. Mario is mentioned in a pretty awesome way, but doesn't get to appear. (Which was quite sad, but at least we'll see him in the sequel.) Brave got the award for best animated picture, but really this film deserved it. The story is handled better with no unnecessary silliness that plagued Brave. Everyone should give Wreck-It Ralph a go, especially gamers whom have played them all from Pac Man to Mass Effect.