Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wrecking Windows, Fixing Films

The best animated movie to have anything to do with Disney this year? "Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings." I was going to say "Mars Needs Moms," but that came out in 2011.

THAT FIRST PARAGRAPH WAS A JOKE. Don't stop reading because of it. Also, because I'm a 21-year-old male, I didn't see "Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings," and because I'm a human being with taste, I didn't see "Mars Needs Moms," so I can't actually tell you if those are good or bad. And with that, I will start saying things I actually mean.

I know it might be Brave of me to say this, but 2012 will be known as the year Walt Disney Animation Studios put out a better movie than Pixar did. That's better than 2011, known as the year that I filmed a better movie on my iPhone of me eating a cheeseburger than the movie Pixar studios released.

That's right, "Wreck It Ralph" was by far a better film than Pixar's "Brave," and honestly, it had more of a Pixar feel to it, too. "Brave" was a fairytale with a princess, "Wreck It Ralph" was "Toy Story" set within the world of video games. I think that's all I need to say to back up that argument.

I've always loved "secret world of" films, like "Toy Story" and now "Wreck It Ralph," where part of the premise is exploring what things do when we humans aren't paying attention to them. "Ralph" is by no means as groundbreaking, funny, or as entertaining as "Toy Story," but I dare say it's the best animated Disney film since "Toy Story 3."

These kind of films create a world within a world, using their own sort of slang, taking the familiar and connecting it all together with a little creativity, and a little ingenuity. Instead of feeling things in her "bones," the character Vanellope Vvon Schweetz feels it in her "code" that she's meant to be a racer in the Mario Kart-esque game "Sugar Rush." I love this kind of thing, and "Wreck It Ralph" is full of it.

Brace yourself, it's time for some plot summary: The film focuses on Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, the villain who wrecks things, so Fix It Felix Jr. can then fix things in the 8-bit arcade game named after Felix. Ralph gets tired of sleeping in a literal dump, and ventures off into two other video games, first a Call of Duty-esque first-person-shooter modern 3D game "Hero's Duty," then to Vanellope's "Sugar Rush." Here, in the land of Sugar Rush, Vanellope, a "glitch" in the game, steals Ralph's medal, and the two become enemies that quickly turn into friends. From there, all that character development and plot stuff happens like in most all movies, except for the Indie ones made by artists who are too hip to use a story arch. If you're reading this blog, you'll probably see the movie anyways, and probably already know all of that stuff you just read, anyways. Moving on...

What made this film so great was a mix of character development, gags, humor, and a nice twist at the end that brings everything together. The characters all have their flaws and their strengths, and we get to see them exhibit all parts of their personality, while enjoying some good jokes, and a dedication the the details of the world of video games that does not waiver in thoroughness throughout. The movie modifies a world we're already familiar with, and exploring it with Ralph, Felix, Venellope and Calhoun, the female commander from "Hero's Duty" voiced by Jane Lynch, is a hilarious, fun and at times emotional journey that amounts to one darn good film.

It's no "Up" or "Finding Nemo," but for a film whose only connection to Pixar is John Lasseter, the chief creative officer at both Pixar and the Walt Disney Animation Studios, it will fool those unaware of the separation between the two companies.

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