BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Mar 23rd, 2013 •

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I never got into video-games. Imagine my delight, then, when on putting this often (to me) inaccessible-to-its-cleverer-points film on pause, up popped an intermission wherein a friendly host proceeded to identify many of the in jokes, hidden Mickey Mouse references, the names of games and video arcade characters are being dredged up for the film, etc. It helped…a little…

Likewise the supplemental doc BIT BY BIT goes over the several video-game styles used within the narrative – old ones such as Wreck-it-Ralph would have been, and newer ones such as the parodies of STARSHIP TROOPERS and ALIEN. Exec producer Lassiter specifically instructed the team to watch Ridley Scott’s film for the look, and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN for the sense of chaos. Also, parenthetically, Producer Clark Spencer sounds a lot like Rod Serling.

I had a problem with Act One. Seeing the film for the second time, I still didn’t buy the other members of his game being so cruel to Ralph. He was part of the team. He was a basically nice soul. What was the problem with inviting him to after-work parties? I didn’t buy it. But, after getting past this logic problem, the film takes off and rollicks along at a hasty pace, as our noirish protagonist blunders into unknown territory looking for a medal and inadvertently threatens much of the video-game empire. There are two buddy stories thrown into the mix: Ralph and a feisty little glitch named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), and Fix-it-Felix (who goes AWOL to retrieve Ralph before it’s too late) and Super warrior Sergeant Calhoun, voiced by Jane Lynch. Ralph and Vanellope take a while to really click, whereas Felix and Calhoun are an immediately fun ill-matched duo.

John C. Reilly is easily identifiable beneath his animated story self, and his voice talents are very effective. Ms. Silverman is harder to ID; it seems like she’s doing a voice unlike her own to fit the diminutive character she portrays. She also keeps making bad-breath jokes about Ralph, which might shed some light on why he wasn’t invited to the parties, but I never believed that he really suffered from halitosis. Not that Vanellope was lying, but he seemed so unaffected by her jabs that I never accepted the reality of it. I’m not pushing for Smell-O-Vision however. 3D is quite enough.

Alan Tudyk as King Candy resurrects Ed Wynn – a vaudeville voice from the distant past who appeared near the end of his life in MARY POPPINS. Other voice actors are excellent, as is the sound editing. In fact, all the tech credits are top notch, and the BluRay is flawless, enabling one to luxuriate in every ounce of energy that went into the design of the film. But then again, can you imagine a Disney BluRay that wouldn’t be superb technically? I think we’d have to be in an alternate universe for that to occur.

A vast world is created here, and again, I recommend the ‘making of’ doc to see the physical and not just the animation labor that went into it. Design Lead for the ‘Sugar Rush’ terrain – Lorelay Bove – for example, used Gaudi’s architecture as a reference, and built a miniature world made of candy, cookies and cake. Really impressive.

Director Moore is making his feature debut here, but has created episodes for THE SIMPSONS and THE CRITIC. It’s a super debut.

The up-front short – PAPERMAN, in B&W, is like a Harold Lloyd short with today’s capabilities to stretch a gag to impossible lengths. It was directed by John Kahrs.

My one regret is that there was no commentary track featuring Reilly and Silverman. I’m told they were allowed to act together, which is unusual. I’m sure they would have been a lively duo on the extra track.

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