Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published December 27th 2012
After a couple of features that failed to live up to expectations, Pixar is back in good form with Wreck-it Ralph, a 21st century variation on their own Toy Story.
This time instead of stuffed toys, it's video games that come to life once humans are out of the room. As you can imagine, the concept is a graphic designer's dream, with the opportunity to create entirely distinctive worlds and the characters that populate them.
The story starts in Fix-it Felix Junior, a 30 year old video game with a pretty basic concept - titular handyman repairs a building in the wake of bad guy Wreck-it Ralph's destructive rampage. When the video arcade lights are out however, Wreck-it Ralph is not so happy to be the bad guy, wishing he could have some of Felix's glory and be accepted by the inhabitants of the building he's programmed to smash on a daily basis.
Fortunately for the audience, Ralph's quest for accolades and popularity soon take him out of the limited universe of his own video game and into much more visually satisfying worlds. Much of the story takes place in Sugar Rush, a vibrant, candy coloured video game crammed with so many details and inventive characters based on all sorts of sugary treats.
As the film's hero, Ralph isn't the most charismatic of Pixar protagonists, but it's easy to empathise with his plight to be more accepted by his community. His relative lack of screen presence is compensated for by a crew of great supporting players, most notably the plucky Vanellope Von Schweetz, a fellow outcast determined to find her place in the world of Sugar Rush.
As is always the case with Pixar films, there are evil elements to create drama, some lessons to be learnt about loyalty and being true to yourself, and lots of humour working on different levels to make sure all age groups are being suitably amused.
What's also a pleasure is that Pixar continue to avoid the route of so many films these days of overstaying their welcome. Just as the film is hitting its sweet spot and you can feel tears welling in your eyes, suddenly the lights are up and the whole thing's over.
This isn't up there with the very best that Pixar has given us (we can't expect a masterpiece every time), but its way more inventive and entertaining than most animated features we've seen in recent times.