Saturday, 9 February 2013

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Now call me ageist but I firmly believe if you were born around 1980 then you will really get much more out of this film. I'm not saying that no one else will of course, everyone will enjoy this ride but the pure retrotastic feast on offer here will make certain folk of a certain age grin from ear to ear. I really will try not to use the word 'retro' too much here...ah who am I kidding!

Just to see the poster for this film is glorious, the classically designed 80's style arcade front that clearly homages games like the original Donkey Kong and maybe Rampage is beautiful. Even the title of the film is perfect, the team behind this film have really hit the nail on the head.

For a fictional game Wreck-It Ralph is beautifully designed and could so easily be a real game. The character sprites of Fix-It Felix Jr (Donkey Kong Jr?) and Turbo in TurboTime (Rally-X?) are also well done.

The plot isn't as simplistic as you would imagine either. Obviously it involves a struggle against a villain but the writing team have cleverly used the common problem of old game glitches, hacking (not so much old school with this of course) or 'crashing' alongside the more typical rescue theme. I also loved how they went about creating the whole videogame world underneath (or behind) those trusty old arcade cabinets. Using the cables as a kind of subway portal to a main hub where all characters go to relax or meet, a huge videogame central station.

I can't deny I've often thought about how worlds like this might or could exist/work if you wanted to make a film centered around a videogame universe. Same with how you would create a world/universe which incorporated every cartoon character ever.

I loved everything I saw in this game, almost. The visuals of course are top notch CGI as expected but I'm referring to the mix of old school and new gen videogame worlds, characters and styles. All characters have a modern CGI sheen but they still keep their traditional artistic style somewhat. But its the little things that really made me smile, the sound effects for one, small touches that bring everything together. All those legendary pings, rings, dings, power up's and extra life sounds and are all in place for the various characters.

Also loved how in the old 8-bit style game sequences everything has a pixelated edge...just like the games. Nice use of a classic Nintendo D-pad tucked away in there too, why not more from Nintendo in this?.

When Sonic gets hit he spills a load of rings everywhere, Clyde the ghost from Pacman hovers as he should and has those classic 8-bit effects when he goes blue, Q*bert sprites are as you remember them including balloon speech, the Wreck-It Ralph sprites all move in a jerky limited way just like old 8-bit sprites and there are many small cameos from game characters ranging from back in the day to present day. In fact I'm sure many young folk watching won't have a clue who some of them are.

This is all boosted even more with lovely little real in-game sequences from a few games like Pacman and Tapper...which I was so pleased to see. Oh my Tapper or Root Beer Tapper was one of those old school games that spawned a huge following of fans and copies, you would find it in bars for heavens sake!. Makes you wish they still had those dark dingy mist filled arcades chock full of those wonderful cabinets.

The only criticism that hit me whilst watching, which is more a constructive artistic difference of opinion really, is the lack of real game environments. In other words, how much cooler would this film had been if the game zone of Heroes Duty was actually Halo or COD. Or if the game zone of Sugar Rush had been Mariokart both with all their gameworld characters. I realise its a small moan and copyrights I'm sure came into play hugely but seriously!!! how fudging awesome would that have been!!!!?? makes me dribble at the thought of it.

The other thing was, Vanellope still has her glitch skill at the end, so how come that's not seen as a game fault causing it to be out of order? Oh and King Candy looks and sounds like The Mad Hatter from Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland'.

My imagination was running wild whilst watching this film and long after. I wanted there to be more characters, more sprites, more worlds, more classic sound effects etc...just more input from various giant videogame companies. The last film to make me feel like this (slightly) was 'Scott Pilgrim' and all the nice little videogame touches that had. Before that you gotta go way back to the cartoon 'Captain N: The Game Master' which was a Nintendo fueled awesome fest (look it up).

This animated film has so much win in it I simply can't include it all. Yes a major part of me liking this is because I'm looking at it through some pretty darn thick rose tinted specs but everyone my age will be the same (if you played videogames). Just like 'Toy Story' the film taps into a long distant loving childhood memory and brings it all flooding back. Not even a childhood memory seeing as I'm sure many still play but the retro appeal here is as strong as an iron girder. Makes you wonder why it hasn't been done before.

Did I see Sub-Zero in this or just a character like him? Oh stick around for the end credits as they are nicely done also.

'Right here. I'm Zangief, I'm bad guy'