Film Review: Wreck It Ralph (PG)

Very few films have my 8 year old son that interested. He likes them, sure, but it’s rare for him to get really excited about them. But a couple of weeks ago he collared me when I came back in from the office and said, “February the 8th is when ‘Wreck It Ralph’ comes out. We must go and see it!” This was quite unusual and caught my attention.

Having checked out the film publicity, I was slightly suspicious that the best bits might all be in the trailer but, nevertheless, it looked ok and I quite fancied it. (We’d been planning some “Father-Son” bonding time for a while but had not quite decided what to do! This was much better than being humiliated playing “Laser Quest” or getting a bad back from camping for the night so I kind of jumped at the “easy” option of a trip to the cinema.) So off we went.

Having battled through the annoying experience of having to queue behind a bunch of people buying burgers to get my ticket (Yeah, thanks Vue for that!) and been fleeced for £14 for the both of us to see it (really, £14 at 11am on a Saturday morning?) we sat down to watch the film.

The film itself is kind of Toy Story meets Tron with a bit of The Matrix thrown in. It’s based on the lives of a bunch of video game characters who exist inside the various machines in the local arcade. In Toy Story style the characters in the games act normally when the arcade is open but “come alive” as soon as no one is around. Whilst confined to their “virtual” world the characters can visit the other games in the arcade by travelling through the connected mains supplies. The central character is Ralph, an arch villain in one of the arcade games who is becoming tired of behaving to character and wants to be given credit for being the person that he really is. However, unable to get that recognition from his fellow characters, Ralph leaves his game in order to find it elsewhere in the arcade, not realising the potential consequences of his actions.

Overall, I really liked the film and so did my son. Generally, a look around the cinema at the other kids on a regular basis throughout the film usually demonstrates how well it’s performing, and pretty much every child was gripped the whole way though.  I was never a great “gamer” but I did get most of the video game “in jokes” throughout the film that almost certainly went over the head of my eight year old son and there was plenty in the storyline to keep me interested too.

Quite a lot has been made in the press about the fact that Disney have made this film outside of their Pixar stable (their normal outlet for digital animation) but I wouldn’t let that distract you from enjoying the film. The debate seems a fairly pointless discussion to me (unless you are really interested in film industry politics…) The central performances of John C. Reilly (Ralph), Sarah Silverman (Vanellope), Jack McBrayer (Felix) and Alan Tudyk (King Candy) are all fine and the animation is excellent.

wreck-it-ralph-tops-weekend-box-officeIf I have one complaint about the film it’s that the underlying theme is not particularly original. It’s based on the background concept of “let’s accept everyone no matter what their faults are” and pretty much every kid’s film seems to be about that these days (well that’s what it feels like anyway.) Not that I have a problem with that particular theme and, to be fair,  there is a bit of a twist in the way that theme is developed in this film. Nevertheless, I am getting a little bored of it. There are plenty of other great themes for kids that just don’t seem to be explored these days.

The other thing I would add is that the film is a PG. Whilst many people class PG and U pretty much the same these days, in fact, the BBFC still strongly recommends that PG films are not shown to children younger than 8. I reckon that this advice is pretty spot on for this film as I have a younger child who is 5 who may have been a bit freaked out seeing this on the big screen, particularly the Alien/Starship Troopers/Call of Duty parody that also runs through parts of the film. Be warned!

Other than great film, well worth going to see.

Incidentally, I did complain to Vue about the whole issue of only being able to buy tickets from the concessions counter. The response from Vue was, as I expected, underwhelming. I suspect that it’s just an attempt to flog more food whilst saving on staffing costs so I put this theory to one of my friends afterwards who used to work for Vue. He confirmed, quite wittily, that Vue’s main strategy was, indeed, “saving salaries whilst selling savouries”.

Maybe Vue will adopt that as their new slogan?

Steve Perry

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