Before Ralph Breaks the Internet, let’s talk about the film that started it all.
Synopsis: For decades, Ralph has played the bad guy in a popular video game. In a bold move, he embarks on an action-packed adventure to set out to prove to everyone that he is a true hero with a big heart. As he explores exciting new worlds, Ralph teams up with an unlikely new friend in feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz and realizes the fate of the entire arcade is in his massive hands. (Disney)
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and Jack McBrayer
Writers: Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee
Director: Rich Moore
Rating: PG (United States)
Running Time: 101mins
This was a film that was ahead of its time despite losing the 2013 Best Animated Feature Oscar to Brave. It managed to create a living world out of the video arcade games that most of us have grown up with. While the obvious nostalgia factor will be a big draw for many viewers, the film also presented a compelling and deep yet familiar story about rediscovery and identity that transcends the setting. The story was about a video game character named Ralph (Reilly). While he was known as a “bad guy” in Fix It Felix Jr., he no longer wanted to be a bad guy. This label was hard to shake off as he had to prove to everyone that he was a big hero.
Proving to everyone that he was indeed a hero would take Ralph on a journey through Game Central Station and the many interconnected arcade games of Mr. Litwak’s (Ed O’Neill) arcade. With these many arcade games came plenty of references to classic video games and classic characters as well as plenty of Easter Eggs along the way that will surely excite fans (it’s amazing how many they managed to put in here). The film’s depiction of a video game based world and the commentary behind it were fun to watch and quite impressive to behold while transitioning from game to game and keeping all the different characteristics and abilities of all its characters.
Along the way, Ralph would run into a headstrong little girl named Vanellope (Silverman). from a racing game called Candy Rush. The two bonded over the fact that they were both oucasts in their own games. All the games were dependent on being plugged in and any game deemed defective would get unplugged and the game destroyed. The people of Candy Rush feared that she would be the cause of the death of their game and everyone within it. Standing in their way was the nefarious King Candy (Alan Tudyk).
Ralph was a very relatable character who simply wanted to be something more and for people to see him for who he was on the inside. It was through his relationship with Vanellope that he became the kind of person he truly wanted to be. She saw him for who he is and not for who he was. The two were very fun to watch together thanks to their big brother/little sister connection. All Vaneloppe wanted to do was race to become a main character in her own game, however, getting there would prove to be easier said than done.
The level of animation was excellent here and could rival many animated films of today (I do realize that this is only a 6-year-old film). There was plenty of hard work on display throughout with its intricately detailed characters and beautiful game worlds that were all bright and very colorful. The voice acting was the best part of the film with Reilly and Silverman being the standouts as Ralph and Venellope respectively. Reilly and Silverman simply fit as Ralph and Venellope as it would be hard to imagine anyone who could have voiced either as well as they did. He was warm and inviting while she nailed her personality and energy.
Overall, this was a great animated film that was ahead of it’s time, full of references that will appeal to nostalgic gamers and its albeit familiar themes will resonate with both young and old alike. However, the references will appeal mostly to video game fans as others may find themselves lost. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman were dynamite in one of the best video game based movies ever.