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'Wreck-It Ralph' wrecks it

By Alex Sferrazza
On November 5, 2012

Seventy-five years ago, Walt Disney Animation Studios released their very first feature length motion picture, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Another 51 animated motion pictures later (not to mention a multi-billion dollar entertainment company), the studio has churned out what is sure to be another classic. "Wreck-It Ralph" is the Walt Disney Animation Studio's 52nd animated feature and while not the very "fairest of them all," it stands as a solid addition to the animation giant's stellar repertoire. This is due in no small part to the fact that in an era of franchise and lackluster sequel overkill on the parts of competitors like Dreamworks, "Wreck-It Ralph" stands as the most original animated film created in years.
"Wreck-It Ralph" is the story of the titiular character (voiced by John C. Reily), who is the antagonist of the "Donkey Kong"-esque video game "Fix-It Felix Jr." Tired of playing the bad guy, Ralph seeks out a chance to prove himself a hero by traveling to the realms of other games connected to his throughout the local video game arcade, meeting numerous iconic game characters along the way (à la "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"). After acquiring a medal in the parody shooter game "Hero's Duty," Ralph crashes into the kids kart racing game "Sugar Rush." Teaming up with a glitch character named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), the pair team up in an attempt to help each other find what the other is missing. Meanwhile Fix-It Felix himself (Jack McBrayer) teams up with Sgt. Calhoun, the protagonist of "Hero's Duty" (Jane Lynch) as they search for Ralph inside of "Sugar Rush."
While the picture will be sure to attract a legion of child fans enthralled by the films' colorful art style, eccentrically comical characters, and abundance of action, it will be the legions of video game fans ranging from adolescents to middle-aged adults who see the film that will get the most satisfaction out of the picture. While "Ralph" is a great picture for anyone, these enthusiasts (you'll be able to tell who they are by their squeals of delight during the picture) will appreciate the numerous references and cameos of major (and obscure) video game characters in the film including "Sonic the Hedgehog," "Chun Li" from Street Fighter and references to both "Metal Gear Solid" and "Tomb Raider" among many others.
The film, however, is not without its faults. The picture spends far too much time in the realm of the game "Sugar Rush" as compared to the rest of the picture. We are never really told why the denizens of the game "Fix-It Felix" hold animosity towards Ralph, since they are aware that he is simply a part of the game. The brief romance between Felix and Sgt. Calhoun also feels a bit forced and abrupt.
Nonetheless, "Wreck-It Ralph's" stellar action scenes, well-written comedic bits, impeccable casting and beautiful animation make it an instant classic. Performances by Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch stand out as highlights. The film stands as a love letter to the history of video games and nostalgia runs rampant throughout the picture. While not flawless, the film is a remarkable success for an original project so ambitious, yet rooted in the touching and very human tale of a guy just wanting to be a force of good for others. "Wreck-It Ralph" is undoubtedly one of the best films released this year, period. Following a string of excellent films including "Bolt" and "Tangled," "Wreck-It Ralph" (and the revolutionary Oscar-destined short film that precedes it "Paperman") make it abundantly clear that the Walt Disney Animation Studios is back and on the top of its game once again.

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