... And here we are, Disney's 52nd animated feature... Wreck-It Ralph!
Last night, I made sure I headed over to the theater to see the Disney animated film that I was dying to see since plot details were announced over a year ago. Yes indeed, Wreck-It Ralph intrigued me early on, being a Disney animated film that wasn't a talking animals comedy or a fairy tale. A film about video games, action and adventure. This would be different, not the Disney we're used to. It's definitely more in tune with Walt Disney's films, being something different and not a complete retread of what we saw before, though the story does have its similarities. This was my kind of film, plus it was mostly about retro games, one of my interests. This will be a few quick thoughts on what I loved, and a few things I thought could've been a bit better.
- To praise the animation in any Disney animated film would be redundant, but let's put it this way: All the video game environments are designed with such care and attention to details. The color work and lighting is breathtaking (good thing I didn't see it in 3D). Every world is unique and different, in terms of the art direction and even the way things look. Hero's Duty is hyperrealistic whereas Sugar Rush is decidedly more cartoony, and Fix-It Felix, Jr. is very minimalist, even in the characters' 8-bit movements. The character designs? Also flawless, and how they fit in well with their settings.
- The writing rarely misses a beat. The video game references are hilarious, I had a huge grin on my face throughout the whole film. Most of the Sugar Rush scenes focus on candy and sweets puns, some of which are laugh out loud funny. Aside from the comedy, this film is no different than the recent Walt Disney Animation Studios efforts. There's a heart beating under the simplistic story, and it's all because the film does a wonderful job at getting you to care about these virtual entities.
- There's a twist that occurs during the final act of the film, and it surprised me. Maybe I'm easy to please, but it worked well and ultimately added to the film's exciting climax.
- Adding to the video game references, the film is extremely accurate. Arcade games that I didn't think would even show up made an appearance, one of them even played a somewhat important role in the story. Plus, Litwak's Arcade is loaded. Look at the opening sequence alone and try to spot all the games. My eyes had a field day!
- The soundtrack is a nice mix of different styles, though a few songs may become dated in the years to come. That said, each track or song fits the mood of the different games. Henry Jackman's score alone captures the atmosphere, it definitely stands out. Skrillex, Owl City and AKB48's contributions are also very good. Buckner & Garcia ("Pac-Man Fever") also contribute a lovely title song for the end credits. (Be sure to stay after the credits for a little surprise.)
- I could've done without Vanellope's gratuitous toilet humor. Yeah, "Hero's Doody" is one thing, but the writers tend to overdo it at times. It's also kind of irritating when it's in a world made of candy.
- The story works for the most part, but there are a few elements here that are all too familiar. Thankfully, the screenplay brushes over these simplicities for the most part.
- A few of the candy puns don't work, but that's just a minor quip. It's pretty much that way with every comedy, there's always going to be those few jokes that fail. But your mileage may vary on this.
Overall, Wreck-It Ralph is a film you need to see. It's proof that Disney is once again one of the best animation studios out there, don't let their tiny slump fool you. I've been saying it many times before, but since Meet the Robinsons in 2007, this studio is firing on all cylinders. Right now, I consider it the best animated film of the year. The best thing is, you don't have to be a gamer to love it either.
Let's not forget John Kahrs' beautiful and innovative short film, Paperman. I've raved about this one too, and I'm glad Disney attached the short to this film so those who are going to make this film a huge hit will see this work of art. It's a major milestone for animation, and you should not miss it. It's worth the ticket!
Anyways, Wreck-It Ralph is already a Disney classic. Go see it!
Bonus - Trailer Recap
Dino Time - Yuck, that's all I have to say. The animation is kiddie commercial-level, not to mention everything about it was annoying. This is for the kids only. - Opens December 7th
The Croods - Thank goodness a much better-looking prehistoric animated film came right after the Dino Time trailer. Anyways, here are my thoughts on the trailer as a whole. I liked it, I've noticed a lot of others were not very fond of it. - Opens March 22nd
Despicable Me 2 - Finally, a new trailer, and not the slightest bit annoying. I didn't do a Trailer Time for this, but I will say, it was a cute trailer. The movie itself should be harmless fun. - Opens July 3rd
Monsters, Inc. in 3D - Not sure if I'll catch this re-release or not. - December 19th
Oz: The Great and Powerful - Looks good, like I already said in my review of The Dark Knight Rises. Sam Raimi, lovely visuals, an Alice in Wonderland atmosphere. Should be good. - Opens March 8th
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - The latest trailer, and a nice change since the one from January got tiring. It was before pretty much every film I saw this year.