If you’re young enough, you only know that they exist in amusement parks and along boardwalks. Once upon a time, however, any mall worth its salt had one, sometimes two, decent arcades. There were even some standalones that in no way involved pizza or animatronics or someone’s birthday.
These bastions of entertainment were once the domain of serious gamers; a place now taken by a couch and a headset. Back then, to play anything better than 8- or 16-bit games meant a trip out into the sunlight and possibly even some social interaction. Even if that interaction was dropping your quarter on the ledge and telling the dudes at Street Fighter II Turbo that you’ve “got next”.
Your face was your Gamertag back then. You knew who you didn’t F with at the arcade. You knew who was better than you. When you were a regular, you realized who would be destroying all comers for a while. Trash talking 12 year olds couldn’t get in your face there because you were bigger than them and they realized that, being only about a foot away at the opposite joystick, you could physically kick their ass without much trouble. In some ways, better days. In some ways, worse.
Wreck-It Ralph is a movie which will bring all the warm fuzzy nostalgia you ever had about arcades and video games in general bubbling to the surface.
Expertly animated by our friendly property-improving overlords at Disney (not Pixar, mind you, this one belongs solely to Uncle Walt), this movie features more easter eggs than one viewing can truly reveal. I would not mind paying the gate again to watch the background and pick out every character. Hell, I don’t say this often, but I would gladly pay the gate again just to see the movie, it was that awesome.
There’s tons of gaming humor to appeal to everyone from the modern FPS gamer to the old-school 70’s arcade dweller. 8-bit action and jokes perfectly blended with next-gen characters and their more contemporary quirks make the thought of “game jumping” work extremely well.
Aside from the background jokes and the funny game-related humor, there’s a great story and some wonderful voice acting from the likes of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, and Jack McBrayer. They really bring their characters to life and you can tell that quite a bit of the dialogue was ad-libbed. It wouldn’t be nearly as funny confining Reilly and Silverman to a strict script. Having a fairly unique plot helps quite a bit as well. It winds up being a very organic and fresh take on CG animated movies, whereas recent entries like Toy Story 3, while an awesome movie in its own right, worked within specific tropes of each character causing some of the dialogue to feel forced.
Wreck-It Ralph tries to go beyond the typical character classification and, even though there is mention of some characters being “programmed that way”, there is a true desire on the part of Ralph (Reilly) and a Candy-Kart Racer named Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman) to break the boundaries of that programming and become something more. Below the surface, it teaches a very transcendentalist lesson about self-reliance and the inherent goodness in all people, which is something incredibly unique amongst the typical CG tripe they’ve been force-feeding kids on the big screen.
This is an absolute must-see. Old or young, you will love this movie. Even if you have no connection to the gaming world, Wreck-It Ralph will be one of your favorites in 2012, even amidst a sea of blockbusters this summer.
Bidula’s Last Word – 10/10, maybe the first time I have the utmost confidence that a 10 was deserved.
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Keep fighting the good fight.