Wreck-It Ralph
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Wreck-It Ralph

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Throughout history there has been a clearly defined distinction between good and evil, right and wrong; the hero and the villain. In the old school westerns identification of each character’s was typically simple, good guys had white hates, the black chapeaus were issued black Stetsons. Film and literature has progressed to the point where the demarcations are blurred but there are a few bastions of traditional dichotomy remaining including the staple of modern entertainment, video game. Whether the player decides to be hero or villain once the point of view has been chosen the progression of the game has been set determined by the regulations of the game scenario. The basis of most video games is for the player to assume the personality of a character within the game; to overlay your personality as the driving force of the game within the confines of the persona you control. Ad a matter of programming the code determining the reaction of the onscreen characters is preset. The latest offering from the imaginative collaboration of Oar and the Walt Disney Studios addresses an interesting musing; what if a video game character wants to change your ways. ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ asks the question of what happens when a video game bad guy desires nothing more than to become a hero. Films about redemption have been around throughout history, a natural corollary to the good versus evil motif. In order for a fundamentally descent person to live in a world imbedded with evil is to believe that there is a means to atone for from good and a means to return to the righteous path. This is a common enough trope with human characters but until ‘Wreck-It- Ralph’ the plot point has not been applied to a character in a video game. What if a video game bad guy gets tired of his nefarious ways and seeks to change? This is a question that has confounded the philosophically and ecclesiastically inclined for millennium that the brutish Ralph’ now pounders. The titular character is stricken with an existential conundrum. This is undoubtedly a bizarre premise bur since the movie is the latest offering from the imaginative team of Pixar and Disney you can be certain that you are in for a great time exploring the concept.

Consistent with a manifestation of nocturnal magic night time is when the characters of video game are free to roam about and visit other games. Just like the nightly antics of the ‘Toy Story’ characters the video games come magically alive, leaving their usual constraints and interacting with each other. What allows this idea to work so incredibly well are the attributes of Pixar and Disney Pixar is one of the world’s leading computer assisted animation studios. They have carefully built a reputation for a style of animation that in many ways mimics reality but without losing the childlike wonderment of fantasy. Disney has been at the fore front of family story telling for eighty years enchanting one generation after another with their captivating take of the classic fairy tales as well as those that will carry us and our game worlds characters like Ralph are guided by they game identities and tend to associate with others of similar predilections. Ralph’s home game, ‘Fix-It Felix, Jr.’ is about to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary; 30 years of Ralph tossing thins at his adversary. His position as a villain has made Ralph an outcast with the other characters; a position he has long since grown tired of playing. His first move in changing is to join a support group, Bad-Anon, composed of other video game bad guys but that only heighten his desire for acceptance. Back at the celebration the others continue to ostracize him. He is told the only way he could possible gain acceptance is to win a medal like the one Felix earns in the game. The only way to accomplish this is to play and win a first-person shooter game ‘Hero’s Duty’. Ralph inadvertently hatches a Cy-Bug, allowing it to escape with him. With Ralph not in his game there is a danger that it will be declared broken resulting in unplugging. This would trap Ralph forever leaving him homeless. When he manages to return everyone had already fled in anticipation of that dire fate.

Throughout the film there are more references to the classic arcade video game than you ever could imagine in one vehicle. Like the diversity of toys depicted in the flag ship Pixar/Disney epic, ‘Toy Story’ the different kinds of video games co-exist nicely from a benign style game for young children to a first person gun totting staple of every video platform in existence and the ever popular go kart racing game. The mixture is visually manifested in the overall look and feel of video games. This is the most solid reason why this will be cited as the most successful video game movie made. Looking back this sub-genre it6 is notorious for placing good actors in bad movies. Just check out ‘Mario Brothers’ or ‘Mortal Combat’ for examples. Since this movie was by its very nature able to span the gaming world rather than attempt to bring a specific game into the real world it worked in a spectacular fashion. They never tried to remove the characters from their gaming environments; they let the animation bring the audience there.

There is a list of accepted plot points that must be infused into a film in order to bolster its acceptance. Aspects such as undeserved misfortune, elements romance and the sword of Damocles all contribute to a richly crafted story. In this instance the entire check list is evident. In what has become the key to their domination of feature length animation Pixar contributes the style while Disney, as always, instills the proceedings with a sense of wonderment and humanity. Once again the teaming of these two giants of innovation has given the audience a movie that will stand the test of time. The film was conceived and executed with 3D effects in mind. Pixar’s cutting edge methods and recognizable style is highly conducive to bringing out that illusion of depth. In some scenes it is minimized to an extent but that was keeping with the motif inherent in the story. The 3D and supporting surround audio pull you inexorably into the gaming world for a couple of hours of pure family entertainment that will bring the entire family together.

Posted 02/24/2013

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