John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Ed O'Neill
, Dennis Haysbert
Rich Moore (story), Phil Johnston (and story), Jim Reardon (story), Jennifer Lee, Sam J. Levine (additional story material), John C. Reilly (additional story material), Jared Stern (additional story material)
When the game is over, a new world comes to life.
Prepare for adventure when 'the most original film in years' (Bryan Erdy, CBS-TV) that thrilled audiences of all ages drops on Blu-ray! From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes a hilarious, arcade-game-hopping journey in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph. For decades, Ralph has played the bad guy in his popular video game. In a bold move, he embarks on an action-packed adventure and sets out to prove to everyone that he is a true hero with a big heart. As he explores exciting new worlds, he teams up with some unlikely new friends including feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz. Then, when an evil enemy threatens their world, Ralph realizes he holds the fate of the entire arcade in his massive hands. Featuring an all-star voice cast and breakthrough bonus features that take you even deeper into the world of video games, Disney's Wreck-It Ralph has something for every player.
$49.038 million on 3752 screens.
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Video Service
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 101 min.
Release Date: 3/5/2013
• Paperman Theatrical Short
• “Bit By Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph” Featurette
• Alternate and Deleted Scenes
• Video Game Commercials
• “Disney Intermission”
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy
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Wreck-It Ralph [Blu-Ray] (2012)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 26, 2013)
While we’ve gotten many movies based on video games, 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph takes an unusual approach, as it delves into the world of a fake “arcade classic”. For the last 30 years, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) has acted as the villain in a video game called Fix-It Felix Jr. He tires of this role, as he feels lonely and disliked. After all that time, Ralph wants to know what it’s like be the hero, but baddies from other games discourage any attempts to thwart his programming.
When he sees again how much all the residents of “Niceland” love Felix (Jack McBrayer) and shun him, Ralph decides to throw caution to the wind. He takes the place of a soldier in a first-person shooter called Hero’s Duty; he hears that if you win, you get a medal, and he thinks this token will prove his worth to the others.
When he enters Hero’s Duty, Ralph finds himself overwhelmed, but he eventually manages to get the medal. However, before he can return home, he ends up swept away. Ralph winds up in a racing game called Sugar Rush, where he meets Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), one of that program’s characters. We follow Ralph’s attempts to get back with the medal, his relationship with Vanellope and related themes.
If I wanted to show a snarky side, I’d say that I liked Ralph better back when it was called Toy Story. But I’d never want to be snarky, would I?
All self-referential sarcasm aside, I admit I can’t claim that Ralph remakes Toy Story, but it certainly bears the influence of that classic. After all, it used the “secret lives of toys” as a key element, and Ralph boasts a similar theme as it shows us what video game characters do after the arcade closes.
Unfortunately, it lacks the same creativity and ingenuity of Toy Story. Ralph got all sorts of love from critics and viewers alike, but I must say I don’t get it. I normally enjoy films like this, and I sure wanted to adore Ralph, but after two screenings, I can’t figure out why it merited so many accolades.
In Toy Story, I thought that Pixar came up with solid characters and story elements to support the gimmick. In Ralph, I feel like the cart goes before the horse. I get the impression the creators became so preoccupied with the world of video games – both real and fabricated – that they forgot to flesh out the other elements.
This leads to a mix of fun cameos and other elements that’ll amuse video game fans – especially those of us old enough to remember when Donkey Kong and the like ruled the arcades – but it doesn’t bring us especially entertaining characters. There’s a certain feeling like we’ve seen them all before, and none of them light up the screen in a particularly interesting way.
Part of the problem comes from the movie’s lack of internal logic. Why does Ralph finally decide to change his life? Sure, the scene with the “villains support group” is cute, but it lacks an organic feel. We find no sense of what drove Ralph to his decision, as the movie gives us no real background. He does his job for 30 years, gets fed up and that’s that, without any sense that events built to that climax.
Maybe I expect too much when I want a flick about video game characters to bring a strong impression of clarity, but I think this becomes a substantial problem. If we don’t buy Ralph’s quest, we don’t dig into much else. Since I never felt much of a connection to Ralph or his journey, this turned into an emotionless trek.
The story remains flimsy and feels tossed off, as though the filmmakers came up with the situations they wanted to depict and crammed in narrative/character moments to fit. That goes back to the “horse before the cart” area; rather than having situations connect naturally to the roles, Ralph appears determined to force the participants into the scenarios whether or not these choices make sense.
And that’s a problem. Back in Toy Story, almost everything felt real; we connected to the characters and situations and believed them despite the absurdity of the film’s basic concept. In Ralph, there’s a “believability gap” that it can’t overcome. No matter how much verisimilitude the filmmakers attempt, something just feels “off” and the story/characters fail to connect.
Heck, the movie can’t even maintain some of its internal video game logic. I’ll ignore the choice to make Ralph move naturally while Felix and the Nicelanders hop around in a jerky way, as I understand that was a necessary decision to make the lead more palatable across 100 minutes of movie; a Ralph who acts like an 8-bit character would get old fast. (Actually, Felix melds the two; he’s not as natural as Ralph, but he’s not as simple as the Nicelanders.)
However, I find myself bothered when the movie subverts its own rules for a gag. For instance, we learn that in Sugar Rush, tree branches with double stripes disappear when touched. However, after it uses this rule, it semi-ignores it; Ralph holds a double-striped branch long enough to let him go through a scene before it vanishes and he falls. Why? For an easy laugh.
Look, I don’t want to come down too hard on Ralph, as despite my complaints, it offers a moderately enjoyable movie. It comes with a likable cast and delivers just enough amusement to keep us with it.
I just can’t help but feel disappointment that it doesn’t do more than that. With such a fun premise and so much talent behind Ralph, I expected something better than “it was okay”. Unfortunately, that’s the most enthusiasm I can muster for this average film.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A/ Bonus C
Wreck-It Ralph appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. From start to finish, this was a stellar presentation.
Sharpness appeared strong. No matter how wide the shots became, they always seemed crisp and detailed. I witnessed no examples of jaggies or shimmering, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. As expected, source flaws also remained absent in this clean transfer.
Ralph offered a warm palette that favored the movie’s video game roots. This meant they varied from setting to setting - Hero’s Duty tended toward somber hues, for instance – but with the candy-colored world of Sugar Rush as the main location, we got a lot of dazzling tones. The hues were consistently rich and vibrant, and they displayed absolutely no flaws whatsoever. Black levels also appeared dense and deep, and shadow detail was solid. I felt totally pleased with this terrific presentation.
While not quite as strong as the picture, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Ralph also seemed outstanding. . The mix presented an excellent soundstage. The front three channels were especially active, with solid spatial orientation and smooth panning between speakers. The rear speakers got a nice workout, especially in many of the scenes in which characters used vehicles; they zipped around from front to rear and right to left effectively and convincingly.
Audio quality appeared very positive. Dialogue remained distinct and natural and suffered from no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. The score was warm and rich, as the music showed fine dimensionality and dynamics. The effects also came across as concise and accurate. They presented clean highs and some terrific lows; bass response was consistently tight and powerful without any distortion. All in all, the audio of Ralph seemed quite impressive.
Given the movie’s financial success, it comes as a surprise that we don’t find a ton of extras here. A short called Paperman ran before theatrical screenings of Ralph. It goes for six minutes, 34 seconds and shows a guy who “meets cute” with a girl at a train station and tries to use paper airplanes to get her attention later. This leads toward an odd twist as the (paper) elements conspire to bring them together. It presents a charming and likable short.
Bit By Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph runs 16 minutes, 40 seconds and provides comments from director Rich Moore, producer Clark Spencer, writer Phil Johnston, art director Mike Gabriel, effects supervisors David Hutchins and Cesar Velazquez, co-art director Ian Gooding, director of look and lighting Adolph Lusinsky, animation supervisor Renato Dos Anjos, associate director of look and lighting Brian Leach, Sugar Rush design lead Lorelay Bove, and visual development artist Brittney Lee.
We learn about the project’s development and the creation of its video games as well as the design of the characters/games and their execution. It’s too bad the movie lacks a commentary, but “Worlds” gives us a nice little overview.
Four Alternate and Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 14 minutes, 28 seconds. (That time includes a 23-second intro from Moore.) We find “Ralph In Hero’s Duty Prison” (5:10), “The Maize Maze” (2:25), “Vanellope’s Volcano” (3:13) and “Extreme EZ Livin’ 2” (3:17). Usually deleted scenes offer minor snippets/extensions, but these include substantial alternate story lines and characters. For instance, “Prison” and “Livin’” focus on Dunderson, a laid-back beach bum who doesn’t show up in the final film. All four are interesting detours.
We can watch these with or without commentary from Moore, Johnston and co-writer/head of story Jim Reardon. They tell us about the scenes and how they would’ve worked in the film. Their notes offer useful info. (Note that if you “Play All” with the commentary, the collection fills 15 minutes, 26 seconds because it throws in another introduction.)
Next we locate four Video Game Commercials. These come for “Fix-It Felix Jr.” (0:34), “Sugar Rush” (0:32), “Hero’s Duty” (1:01) and “Fix-It Felix Hammer” (0:32). The last one is just a twist on a Ralph ad, but the first three offer clever attempts to recreate period-appropriate promos for “Litwak’s Arcade”. They’re all quite fun.
First used on the Blu-ray for 2011’s The Muppets, Disney Intermission delivers an unusual component. If you activate this feature, every time you pause the movie, you’ll see “The Gamer’s Guide to Wreck-It Ralph. Hosted by comedian Chris Hardwick, these segments tell us trivia about the film such as cameos and hidden items. This would probably be more efficient if presented as a separate featurette, but it offers some fun info. (By the way, as far as I can tell, if you pause once, “Intermission” will run through all the components in a row.)
The disc opens with ads for Monsters University, The Little Mermaid and Planes. These also show up under Sneak Peeks along with clips for Gravity Falls, Mulan, Disney Parks, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Return to Neverland and Super Buddies. No trailer for Ralph pops up here.
Disc Two provides a DVD Copy of the film. It includes the Paperman short.
As a film in the Toy Story vein, Wreck-It Ralph provides passable entertainment but nothing more. While it comes with a clever premise and occasional fun, it lacks consistency and fails to deliver the heart and cleverness I hoped to see. The Blu-ray brings us excellent picture and audio but lacks a substantial roster of bonus materials. I think Ralph has some positives, but it’s not a great – or even very good – film.
Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2307 Stars|| Number of Votes: 13|