Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Every once in a while, a movie comes out that is not only incredibly enjoyable to watch, but you have to think how fun it must have been to make.  That’s the way it was when I saw Wreck-It Ralph, the newest Disney film which really feels more like a Pixar production.  Directed by Rich Moore (Futurama, The Simpsons), Wreck-it Ralph is exemplary of what great Disney storytelling is all about.  The eye candy dazzles as this epic adventure sweeps you into the secret worlds of arcade video games on a misguided bad guy’s quest for glory that ultimately brings out the hero within.

Not enough praise can be given to this insightful and very funny film.  The world and its main characters are so entertaining and deliciously constructed that you can’t help but anticipate what is coming next.  Full of references to well known video games of the past and present and some clever new ideas folded into the mix, a potentially confusing concept is ingeniuosly laid out in a simple believable way as Wreck-it Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, leaves his own game and travels into others.  Each game has it’s own rules, as does the common space between them that the characters share–Game Central Station– and of course there is the way these games interact with the gamers in ther arcade;  But with all the jokes and the learn-as-you-go game rules, at its heart is a tremendous exploration of what truly makes a hero.  Most likely to be considered a sort of next generation Toy Story, Wreck it Ralph is not unlike Up in it’s epic marvels and storytelling prowess.

Sarah Silverman is perfectly cast as ragamuffin racer Vanellope.  Vanellope is a glitch in Sugar Rush, a Candyland inspired Racing game.  She adds some further grey to Ralph’s complex issues of right verses wrong.  King Candy is another delightfully performed character, voiced by Alan Tudyk.  The heroes, Calhoun (Jane Lynch) and Fix-it Felix (Jack McBrayer) are relegated to the minor character role as they search for Ralph and discover an unseen threat.  Though, they never break from their profile character traits there is just enough of their storyline to pull out a whopping finally.

The story begins with a quick explanation of the Donkey Kong like arcade game Fix-it Felix Jr. from Ralph’s point of view.  Tired of being the outcast, he hears a distressed character from another game complaining about all he has to go through for a medal.  Ralph takes his place in the game with disastrous results and winds up losing the medal in the Sugar Rush game.  Vanellope– the outcast of her game– only wants to race, but the king forbids it.  Ralph teams up with her in order to get back the medal, but soon discovers that fame and glory don’t make a hero.

I have to say, this is the best new film to come out of Disney Animation Studios in a while.  Smart and emotionally deep, the film boasts vivid worlds, terrific character designs, and all the laughter and tears that Disney is so well-known and appreciated for.  Wreck-It Ralph is worth a big screen 3D experience and I can’t wait until it hits the Bluray stands.  Oh, and the Oscar goes to…

Movie Review: Frankenweenie 3D

Frankenweenie, the Tim Burton short film in which a young imaginative boy raises his dog from the dead, is enjoying a gorgeous reincarnation as a feature-length stop motion film that showcases Tim’s signature art design and stark, stunning black and white photography.  It’s his greatest treat for the eyes since his splendid take on Sweeney Todd.

If you are familiar with the original Frankenstein inspired short, this is not simply a stretched out version of the original.  It may feel at times as though it is thinning out story wise, but there are plenty of great characters and extra movie monster chaos to aid the narrative, plus it’s just so nice to look at.

I’m happy that they made a conscious choice to move away from the original while maintaining the key, most memorable factors.  I like that I feel as though I can still watch the original and get something else out of it.  At the same time the trade-off gives an alternate, more fleshed out and fantastic tale using the art form Tim has become so associated with since Nightmare Before Christmas.

Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, and Winona Ryder are a few of the voice talents that empowered this much more populated spin which  includes my favorite new character, Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau).  Also part of the cast are a host of movie monsters a la Burton and quite an assembly of classmates in an Edward Scissorhands type suburban town called New Holland.  The adaptation was written by one of my favorites, John August, who also wrote Big Fish and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

This is a fun seasonal family film with some freshness tossed in with the well rehearsed bits and 3D to compliment the staging and photography while entertaining the old and new fans alike.  I’d definitely get the coffee table book on it too.

New in Blu

Remember these?  Adventures in Babysitting, a Chris Columbus comedy from the 80’s starring Elisabeth Shue is now a 25th anniversary edition bluRay!  I remember loving this as a kid.  John Cusack comedy Grosse Pointe Blankin which he is a hitman who drops in on his ten year high school reunion is enjoying a 15th aniversary release as well.  Universal’s latest Dr. Seuss adaptation The Lorax is new in blu.  This year’s documentary Marley, from the director of State of Play, is the definitive life story of the Buffalo Soldier told with the support of his family.