Dick De Jong
Wreck-It Ralph may not have won the Oscar, but the Disney animation has captured the hearts and imaginations of fans, young and old.
As an indication of its wide appeal, this ode to three decades of arcade video games can charm even those who have never plugged a quarter into a game machine and who couldn't tell you the difference between Pac-Man and Q*bert.
Wreck-It Ralph, the second banana and bad guy in the Fix-It Felix video game, suffers an identity crisis and decides to change his life. Ralph's story resonates with anyone who has ever sought a more rewarding existence. And who better to give voice to the big galoot but John C. Reilly, whose roles have often embodied a put-upon soul.
But worry not, this delightful movie is not angst ridden. Ralph is more goofy than grief-stricken in his quest to move out of the dump and into the penthouse. And his partner in climb, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), adds an adorable dollop of ditsy in her own drive to attain acclaim in her Sugar Rush arcade world.
Adding to the cast of digital characters are the ultimate repairman, Fix-It Felix, and the caustic commando, Calhoun. The Disney animators borrowed significantly from the actors' TV personas. Felix is voiced by Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock's good natured Kenneth Parcell. Calhoun is played to the hilt by Jane Lynch, Glee's brassy Sue Sylvester.
But wait, there's more, a whole rogue's gallery of arcade heroes and villains. If you misspent your youth and your allowance playing video games, you will enjoy the challenge of spotting all of the game references.
The movie is a virtual arcade game's Where's Waldo, which will require multiple viewings just to track down the usual suspects in the frame. To assist you, while watching the film, hit Pause and after a few seconds a Disney Intermission feature begins starring head nerdist, Chris Hardwick, who in a series of vignettes reveals where some of the pixelated personalities are hiding.
I don't need to unreel anymore of the plot. You can enjoy some of the twists as they unwind.
The different game worlds are a sight to behold and the high def Blu-ray displays them in all their various glories. (Though note that the aspect ratio of the film is 2.39:1 meaning that the HDTV screen will contain black borders at the top and bottom.)
The Ultimate Collector's Edition that I reviewed also includes the 3D version of Wreck-It Ralph. And the animators exhibited remarkable reserve in not overusing the 3D effect. When they do employ it, like in the buggy battle in the Hero's Duty game, the technique is impressive.
In a bit of ironic justice, on the Wreck-It Ralph Blu-ray, the Disney folks include "Paperman," which happened to nab the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. I had seen it in the theater in 2D, therefore I was surprised to discover a 3D version on the 3D Blu-ray.
The film is also available in 2D on the regular Blu-ray. One way or another, take the time to enjoy this sweetheart of a short.
As for the prerequisite behind-the-scenes featurette, the Disney folks do an admirable job of avoiding the usual self-congratulatory backslapping. "Bit by Bit: Creating the worlds of Wreck-It Ralph" is an informative while entertaining must-see as the creative team describes their inspiration and process.
It's always sobering to see how much thought and effort goes into making an animated film. And the layers of detail in every shot can be staggering.
Probably the main reason to watch a film on Blu-ray rather than stream it is the opportunity to view these bonus features and the Wreck-It Ralph Blu-ray delivers the goods.
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Director: Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O'Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Edie McClurg, Adam Carolla
Length: 101 minutes
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