Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
A perfect night in with EE
Win £200 to spend on the perfect night in
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

John C. Reilly
Sarah Silverman
Jane Lynch
Alan Tudyk
Jack McBrayer.
Rich Moore.
Phil Johnston
Jennifer Lee.
Running Time
101 minutes

3 Star Empire Rating
I Used To Live Here
3 Star Empire Rating
Dark Horse, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Kidnapping Freddy Heineken
2 Star Empire Rating
Broken Horses
3 Star Empire Rating

Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
5 Star Empire Rating
Sweet Smell of Success
5 Star Empire Rating

Wreck-It Ralph
Game Changer

submit to reddit

Fed up with playing baddie, videogame villain Wreck-It Ralph (Reilly) quits his retro platformer and jumps through the screens of his arcade home, in search of brave new game worlds and an elusive hero’s medal...

Wreck-It Ralph
Browse more images »
Videogames have been with us for 30 years now, give or take a Pong. For Hollywood, the question of how to port their micro-characters to the big screen has resulted in a surreal struggle. The two seem to get on like trampolines and nunchaku. Anyone who’s ever caught Bob Hoskins in dungarees, Kylie as a kickboxer or Luke Goss in Tekken will know that most adaptations end up novelty concoctions, where bad fan-fiction meets bizarrely cast branding exercise. If you’re looking for thrills, you’ll find more entertainment disassembling an Xbox with a coconut.

Here’s the good news. Wreck-It Ralph, the latest Disney animation, isn’t a movie of a videogame. The movie is a videogame, with videogame jokes, videogame noises, videogame cameos and a blocky, 8-bit videogame villain. Clunking around his retro platformer like Donkey Kong’s missing link, Ralph is not a happy baddie. Cursed with shovel fists and a reverse Midas touch set on auto-demolish, 30 years of lobbing masonry at Fix-It Felix, his in-game nemesis, have turned him into a deluded wreck. As Felix (Jack McBrayer) collects all the credit, Ralph is cast out to a pile of bricks, gripped in a sulky, electro-stential crisis. Even weekly therapy at support group Bad Anon can’t shake him out of it. Eventually he snaps, escapes the cabinet, and smashes around the arcade in search of the impossible: a winner’s medal. Wreck-It Ralph wears the porkchop nose and warm, weary voice of John C. Reilly. He is, of course, instantly lovable.

Director Rich Moore made his name on The Simpsons, and there’s a familiar zap to the in-jokes and sight gags that blitz its opening third. Taking its cue from Toy Story’s clandestine world, when the arcade shuts, the machines come to life — a concept loaded with its own set of rules (never “jump” games, fear the Out Of Order sticker). It also affords Moore the freedom to go on an 8-bit nostalgia trip. In this sense, Wreck-It Ralph is unique among videogame movies — it actually displays a genuine love for its subject, dosed up on a wicked sense of humour. There will be few sights funnier this year than watching Streetfighter’s Ken and Ryu clocking off for a pint — and few sights sadder than seeing Q*Bert unplugged and homeless. While younger heads will flutter at the sparky CG, seasoned gamers are invited to play Spot The Dig Dug among the countless cameos that clutter Game Central Station. It’s an incredibly smart move — a rare family film that speaks to two generations at once. Both will come out satisfied, just one more than the other.

Booted out of a Halo-clone shoot-’em-up, Ralph lands in Sugar Rush, an arcade racer set in pick ’n’ mix terrain — candyfloss clouds, candy-cane forests and Nesquik sand (their production placement pun, not ours). Imagine The Wizard Of Oz in inverted syrup, or, at the very least, a Willy Wonka migraine. It’s here where the plot parks itself and where the energy bar drops into the red.

After all that manic invention and technical dazzle, the film retreats to formula and the relative safety of soft slapstick and mild jeopardy. Disney has been delivering the “be yourself” message since Dumbo. Wreck-It Ralph is no different, bonding Ralph to fellow outcast Vanellope von Schweetz, a glitchy girl-racer with a repertoire of chewy puns. Voiced by Sarah Silverman on Helium Force 9, there’s no doubt kids will feel galvanised by her journey from brat to princess. Adults may feel less persuaded, but do get offered sanctuary in a ridiculous romance between Felix Jr. and Jane Lynch’s dominatrix Marine.

Happily, the movie recharges for a hectic final act, hurling you into a Mario Kart racer as the 3D merrily lobs gobstoppers at your head. In a wonderfully perverse touch, Moore also has a crack at recreating Starship Troopers through the medium of cupcakes. It’s dazzling, inventive, thrilling stuff. Whether Disney’s 52nd feature is just too contemporary to become a Mouse House perennial is open to question — maybe they can upgrade it once a decade? — but for the time being, go, have fun and laugh your @!#?@! off. As Q*Bert might say.

A Who Framed Roger Rabbit for the joystick generation that, despite a mid-act dip into generic Disney territory, high-scores on laughs, invention and 8-bit affection.

Reviewed by Simon Crook

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Wreck-It Ralph
Empire Star Rating

The Fast And Furious Franchise's 7 Most Insane Stunts
In ascending order of madness...

Empire's Fast & Furious 7 Review
We run the rule on the return of Toretto, Hobbs and co

Empire Meets Alison Brie
The Get Hard star on Ken Jeong, Toto and her favourite episode of Community

17 ‘What The?’ TV Cameos From Film Directors
From Spike Jonze as a music exec to Peter Bogdanovich as… himself?

Empire Meets Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
On A Second Chance, Game Of Thrones pranks and Headhunters' poo scene

The Secrets Behind 44 Classic Cinema Sound Effects
No really, the Ringwraiths are actually plastic cups...

The 30 Greatest Superhero Movies Of All Time
Empire readers pick their top super flicks

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)