The first thing to know about Wreck-It Ralph is it is a flawlessly executed movie. Call it “high production values,” call it “pitch perfect”; whatever label means, for you, a movie where every beat is perfectly delivered, every emotion is perfectly conveyed, and every minute detail is crafted brilliantly.
This is something I have come to expect from Pixar, and, happily, they once again deliver. Their movies all show immense devotion and careful attention — yes, even Cars 2 — and Ralph is no exception. As a result, I spent an evening captivated, and left the theater feeling wonderful. Without spoilers, I can say the movie is entirely uplifting.
It should be. The movie relates the story of the titular character, the “bad guy” in the Donkey-Kong inspired video game “Fix-It Felix Jr.” On a related note: Mario and Luigi are among the few major video game characters not to appear in cameos due to the high cost of their appearance.
Alone and unloved as a villain, Ralph attempts to become more heroic in the hopes of gaining the approval of other characters. He leaves his game, seeking out a chance to prove his worth and ends up first in an ultra-violent FPS and eventually in a sugar-coated racer (think “Mario Kart” meets Candy Land). The conceit of the film allows for many a glance at the world of video games, and this is half the joy of the movie. The other half is the story, which is well focused and moving.
Unfortunately, this focus is the single area in which the film could be improved. I hesitate to say it is a flaw; being unfocused is a flaw. Being well focused is goodness that fails to be greatness.
Wreck-It Ralph is a complete film, and yet, with the world it opened up for us I wish there had been more exploring. We see three games, and a handful of characters all serving to reference several video games, but we never feel entirely submerged in a video-game world.
Unlike the original Tron, which made the idea of computers come to life, Ralph treads lightly around gaming culture, presenting an homage to games while avoiding distancing non-gamers. As such, we are left with an excellent story, when we might have hoped as well for a world we could lose ourselves in. Certainly such movies as Finding Nemo and Wall-E have set a precedent for movies in which the setting seems real enough to step into.
Even so, this flaw is minor — we have an excellent meal here, if not an entirely exquisite desert. The meat of the film, of most films, is the story and this one is perfect. I can’t say much else without spoiling it, and besides that, I do not feel any need to. Saying the story is perfect tells all there is to tell. Imagine any flaw you have seen in movie storytelling; Ralph does not do any of these. Sold on it yet?
I do think Pixar could have done a bit better. I missed the silences of Wall-E, the chances to linger which intensified the emotions I was feeling and helped me savor them. But then again, though I feel justified in chastising the studio for not doing its best work, to focus on the movie’s minor imperfections and ignore the major perfections is silly and a waste. It presents a false impression of the film, which would in no way feel lacking if I had not spent an hour analyzing it.
This film was worth seeing and will be worth seeing again. Though it is not a contender for one of my favorite films it is a good enough film to have earned a place in my memory.
Questions? Email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.