The basic story is that Ralph suffers from an identity crisis. For 30 years he has been the villain of the arcade game known as Fix-It Felix. But he infers that he as the villain role of the game is not his true self as he actually is in public. Understandable, because who wants to be pigeonholed into a folder? When Fix-It Felix, the game’s protagonist, bids to a 30th-anniversary party, Ralph is not invited. He’s ostracized, the elephant in the room, even though it’s his own name that reads in the game title.
Dispirited, sitting on the pile of bricks that constitutes his home, an idea springs to his mind of how he can gain the veneration he so desperately desires. By “game-jumping” to Hero’s Duty, a shoot-em-up game in the same arcade, he hopes to win a shiny medal that is bound to be met with his colleagues’ admiration. Something, however, goes disastrously wrong, letting loose a digital plague which threatens to obliterate all the games of the arcade. Unless measures are taken, it’s “Game Over” for them all.
The fact that Rich Moore is holding the directorial joystick here doesn’t surprise me at all. The director, who has previously worked on early seasons of The Simpsons and Futurama (back when they were still funny, that is) has conjured up a story that is as explosively fun as the effect of mixing Diet Coke and Mentos. The art direction, the savvy humor – it achieves impressive high scores on all levels.
Granted that I’ve always had a penchant for game-related adventures, but even if you haven’t grown up with the likes of Street Fighter and Pac Man, it’s a very touching parable about friendship and staying true to yourself. Neither too dark nor too saccharine, even if the little squirt known as Vanellope von Schweetz is about as cute and sassy as an animated girl can get.
Retro and contemporary all at once, it’s a nostalgic and reference-brimming love letter to both the 8-bit icons of the past and their modern equivalents. That it also scores some major points with its stunning visuals, cements Wreck-It Ralph as not only a creation above the median but also as the best to have happened to the animation genre since "Toy Story 3".
"Wreck-It Ralph" still is my favorite animated film from 2012, a touching and ultra fun look literally inside the video game world. Great vocal work and clever references keep the film moving at a delightful pace, and I greatly appreciate the originality and fresh feeling Rich Moore and the people of Disney brought to the table with this film.
My only issue would be the limited nature of the scope, given how much of the arcade seemingly could be explored yet the film is confined to only a few locations, mostly Sugar Rush. This is really only a complaint if the Wreck-It Ralph universe is never to be visited again, as it would feel like a missed opportunity to take such a great concept and not fully utilize it. If a sequel or two should ever come along, I would be excited to see it and experience new and exciting ideas from inside Litwak's Arcade. I'm going to give "Wreck-It Ralph" a 9 out of 10.