Wreck-It Ralph - Cinema Review

'The late on sugary sweetness is a reflection of a centre empty of substance, built around a story that has already been told, a flavour that you have already experienced.'

You wonder quite why it took so long for someone to come up with the apparently obvious idea of mixing CGI animation with CGI fandom; a narrative surrounding computer games wrapped up in a shiny and familiar visual bubble. Now that the mixture is here though, what surprises little is the paper thin narrative, the lack of new ideas contained within, the flimsy script; the fact that the whole things is operating more on nostalgia from the parents and a pre-existing air of goodwill towards games and gaming culture from the target audience. Wreck-It Ralph is, unfortunately, an animated film with very little going for it beyond this warm feeling and generic acceptance of the fact that CGI films aimed at kids can almost always be labelled at least 'OK'.

The first sign that there's nothing new happening here is the pitch. Ralph (John C. Reilly), is the villain of Fix-It Felix, a demolition game. He knocks the house down, Felix (Jack McBrayer) builds it up again. But Ralph doesn't want to do this any more  He wants friends, a medal, a feeling of warmth not currently given to him in the Bad Guys Club, a segment which needed to be much funnier, considering the mainstream characters the producers managed to get involved. Sound familiar? Yes this is more or less Despicable Me and Megamind (or at least the concept behind them) all over again: villain wants to come good and/or is made the focus of the story, must go through a variety of 'but this isn't your destiny' conversations to get there.

In Ralph's case these conversations largely involve Felix, Calhoun (Jane Lynch, whose voice doesn't suit her character) and, for a vast swathe of the second half, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). This section, which takes place in Candy Land, a bright pink headache of a racing game location, is by far the worst of the film. Gone are the neat ideas about old-style games versus new, gone are the fairly wide-ranging interactions between characters from different franchises and eras, here instead a generic world from a generic game, where two generic characters swap platitudes about destiny and 'being' and sweets. It goes on for far too long, features very little excitement and then goes round in a circle, like someone has hit 'restart' and given Ralph his quest to do all over again.

Some of the vocal talents - Reilly and Alan Tudyk as King Candy in particular - are really spot-on casting and, occasionally, the uninspired script by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee pulls out a good line, but overall this is stunningly lacklustre. The late on sugary sweetness is a reflection of a centre empty of substance, built around a story that has already been told, a flavour that you have already experienced. Wreck-It Ralph covers this emptiness in a new reflective-foil wrapper, clinically designed to appeal to the interests of this generation's youth. There really is nothing new here, and very little worth bothering with at all.



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