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Disney In Depth: Blu-ray Review: Wreck-It Ralph
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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Wreck-It Ralph Blu-ray cover

Wreck-It Ralph
4-Disc 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital l 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD l DVD
Directed by Rich Moore
Starring John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, Dennis Haysbert
Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: March 5, 2013

Get your head in the game. Disney’s best video game is not one you can play, but rather one you watch, as Wreck-It Ralph jazzes up the screen with pure fun and affection. Now the giant hit movie arrives on Blu-ray shelves. Press start for this Disney In Depth Blu-ray review of Wreck-It Ralph.

The bad guy doesn’t want to be a bad guy. Have we seen this plot before? Maybe to some respect, but Ralph takes this concept to a most pioneering level where puns and references a plenty do not interfere with sophisticated storytelling. Supposedly-villainous Ralph just wants some appreciation, so he ventures outside his ’80s-era game to prove his worth. He attains that value via unexpected means, meets some crazy folks along the way, and realizes his potential in who he has always been.

Wreck-It Ralph mixes the most endearing, innovative and smartest elements of some of Pixar’s classics like Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Up, while carrying the fantastical castle in the sky imagination found in Disney’s enduring masterpieces like Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, and The Emperor’s New Groove. Often reviewers may make certain references without giving some context, so let me elaborate.

Disney’s 52nd animated film brings in the “buddy story” element, using characters Ralph and Vanellope, notable with relationships Woody & Buzz, Mike & Sulley, and Carl & Russell. Pixar has defined many of their pictures through showing the evolution of friendship, whether it be initially contentious or misunderstood. Ralph takes a page from the Pixar book by carefully ripening this bond – and even more so – using it to the film’s benefit. The scene with Ralph and Vanellope bonding over designing their race car is not only hilarious and ingenious, but also touching and stirring.

Ralph similarly benefits from saturating the environments with Disney comedic vision, first instituted so wildly and psychedelically in Alice, later in Aladdin – Genie, the ultimate source of amusement and wackiness – and even in Groove with its impeccable timing. The film draws genuine laughter because of its absurdity grounded in humanity. These characters feel real, but they exist in societies absent of limits.

Cy-bugs encroach the high-tech and fast-paced Hero’s Duty. Whimsical candy-infused children populate Sugar Rush. And then there are the static dwellers of Fix-It Felix, Jr. The characters, the settings, the storytelling, the genius. Everything seems to intertwine seamlessly and meticulously. My words do not give the film justice, but they do suggest why Ralph works. It functions as well as it does because the people behind the screen – and whose voices accompany the images on screen – exhibit their passion, talent, and familiarity in knowing how to produce grade-A product.

Wreck-It Ralph

Bonus Features

By far, Wreck-It Ralph places as one of Disney’s weakest releases in offering supplemental content – for an animated film, that is. Why the scarcity? You tell me. But for a movie that just warrants bonus features, this comes as quite disappointing. For what is offered, though, the features enlighten as much as they entertain.

Paperman, Disney’s now Oscar-winning film, stands as genius as Pixar’s best shorts. The love story between businessman George and Meg, the woman who he falls in love with at first glance. Watch the complete short here in Blu-ray glory.

Bit By Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph, the Blu-ray’s lone documentary, explores the background the movie and how director Rich Moore came aboard this nostalgia project. Producer Clark Spencer purposefully parallels the film’s idea to that of Toy Story. This doc nicely takes viewers in chronicling the development process and challenges in realizing several extreme environments. Fix It Felix, Jr. evokes simplicity and cleanliness, whereas Hero’s Duty induces overwhelming feelings and hyperrealism. The Sugar Rush portion, as evidenced in my review of the art book, is the most enticing visually and also appetizingly. Each of these settings could easily fill individual documentaries, but this roughly 17-minute feature adroitly summarizes the main points.

Alternate and Deleted Scenes come in rather limited supply (only four), but at least offer the option of commentary by Moore. These storyboard sequences are both in color and black-and-white with some remarkable voice acting.

“Ralph in Hero’s Duty Prison” shows a hilarious dialogue between imprisoned Ralph and Felix, smitten with Calhoun, and later a conversation between the big lug and Bobby, a cool dude who encourages him to visit another game. Surely this scene could not be implemented in the film’s finished product structure, but I certainly thought it was not typical bland “rejected material.” See for yourself in this clip below.

“The Maize Maze” brings King Candy into the mix, as he presents a timed challenge to Ralph and crew, but with some smart thinking, they reach the finish point in no time flat.

“Vanellope’s Volcano” allows the sweet-natured girl to tour her little oasis to Ralph and Felix, her home full of “danger” signs and odd rooms.

“Extreme EZ Livin’ 2” parodies “The Sims” by placing Ralph into an environment of beach culture, “it’s all good” denizens, but unfortunately this party pooper realizes this isn’t the right place for him.

Video Game Commercials, already released online, lampoon old-style advertisements.

“Fix-It Felix Jr.” feels analogous to the “Al’s Toy Barn” ad found in Toy Story 2.

“Sugar Rush” comes straight out of 1997, so it says, and makes it appear like a Chuck E. Cheese commercial, since the ad shows real-life players.

“Hero’s Duty” echoes the action movie trailers of modern day.

“Fix It Felix Hammer” spoofs those early-morning infomercials, utilizing Felix’s hammer as an actual tool to solve issues. It can even help you lose weight. No joke!

Disney Intermission, one of the studio’s newest Blu-ray tools, allows nerd-tastic host Chris Hardwick to share insight into various video game and Disney references. Basically, whenever you pause the film, one of these clips play. Each lasts under one minute, and there are over 10 total. Watch them all by not immediately returning to the movie. “The Gamer’s Guide to Wreck-It Ralph” is well-placed, inventive and expertly-hosted. Cool feature.

Wreck-It Ralph villains

Presentation

Framed in an arcade style game, the menu screen for Wreck-It Ralph stirs up wistfulness of a long-gone era of 8-bit video games. The appropriate clink-clank music and visuals extend the tone, which, of course, carry into the movie.

Like most of Disney’s other animated releases, Ralph’s arresting picture quality is helped in large part to its razzle-dazzle color scheme, coated in rich combinations. The level of detail in each scene is overwhelming, but come out clearly. On the audio side, the sound effects, Henry Jackman score and ambiance transcend encompassing, thanks to a terrific track. Absorb yourself into the first-person shooter game Hero’s Duty as one of the soldiers, or participate in a race in Sugar Rush. You will feel like you, the viewer, are in the game.

Note: The “ultimate collector’s edition” supplies a Blu-ray 3D disc featuring the film and bonus features, a Blu-ray showcasing the film and bonus features, a DVD with film and bonus features, and also a Disney Digital Copy.

Film: A-
Bonus Features: C+
Presentation: A

Overall Grade: B+

No matter the substandard supply of bonus content, Wreck-It Ralph is A-game exuberance through and through. The Blu-ray has a few kinks in it, but then again, doesn’t every video game? Ralph validates Disney animation’s capacity and relevance in this age often absent of inspired product. Felix himself could not fix much about this film and that’s reason enough to cheer and jump off your couch to get a copy today.

This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Return back in two weeks (Thurs, March 21) for new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of upcoming editions of the column.

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