Friday, July 5, 2013

Wreck-It Ralph Broke the Video Game Movie Curse

In the last 30 years or so video games have become incredibly popular. An 8-bit boom of popularity (and profit) brought video games into the mainstream during the late '70s and on into the '80s. So, in the '90s when Hollywood execs wanted to make bank off of this growing market, they took the most prominent series at the time and turned it into a movie. The very un-super Super Mario Bros. movie came to theaters (more on that failure in a future review), along with a curse. A curse that fell upon all other video game movies from then on. A curse that made it so video game movies would always suck.
Now nearly 20 years later, that curse is on its way to being broken ... by Disney. Disney? Yes, Disney. Last year, the animation behemoth that shaped this generation's childhood released their newest movie about video game characters, Wreck-It Ralph. And it didn't suck! In fact, it was great!

The story follows the titular character Ralph, a villain from the fictional 1980's arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr. (which is a lot like the original Donkey Kong) who is tired of always being the bad guy. So, the 9 ft. tall, 643 lb. wrecker goes "game-jumping" to try be a hero for once landing him in Hero's Duty (heh, duty), a first person shooter, and Sugar Rush, a candy coated version of any game from the Mario Kart series. And of course, hijinks ensue.
Wreck-It Ralph is full of classic video game character cameos. Go ahead and look at that poster again. M. Bison, Q*bert, Clyde from Pac-Man, and Sonic the Hedgehog are chilling behind the star of the movie. And that's just the poster. Other classic characters make appearances, too. Trying to find all of the different characters in the background is almost like doing a seek-and-find or reading Where's Waldo (there's really not much reading when it comes to Where's Waldo). Along with cameos, there is more than a few bit-loads of references to video games and video game culture. Who wouldn't want to see a support group for depressed game villains?
Not only does the movie have a fun story that is filled with familiar faces, it has good music. Composer Henry Jackman did a wonderful job separating the three different video games that Ralph enters with music and fitting said music to the atmospheres of those games perfectly. 8-bit music for Fix-It Felix, Jr., intense and crazy dubstep music for Hero's Duty (mixed by Skrillex himself), and fun light and cheery music for Sugar Rush. It definitely compliments the movie.
I almost forgot to mention how clever this movie is: VERY. Wreck-It Ralph is one of the most clever and pun-filled movies I've seen in a long time. And I loved every bit of it. It's like a Mt. Cleverest on the clever scale (which doesn't actually exist ... yet). My favorite character, King Candy, has some of the wittiest lines and puns I've heard in a movie in a long time.
During opening weekend, Wreck-It Ralph grossed $49 million. And it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. This video game movie succeeded! Sure, it's an animated movie about fake video games, but still! It did the un-do-able and has potentially (and hopefully) broken the curse of video game movies sucking! There is also talks of a sequel that will have even more video game character cameos, including a certain mustachioed, overall-wearing, mushroom eating plumber. The very same plumber whose 1993 live-action movie started the very curse Wreck-It Ralph broke.
In case you couldn't tell by what I've already written or you skipped to the end (shame on you) I absolutely loved this movie (I even mentioned it in my review of The Lego Movie trailer)! Everything about it made me smile, and I still can't decide if it beat out Aladdin for my favorite Disney movie (which is a pretty big deal). If you haven't seen Wreck-It Ralph yet then I highly recommend seeing it. Whether you're a video game fan, a Disney lover, a child at heart, or all of the above, this movie is a must.

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