Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wreck It Ralph

As Singapore refuses to conform to British ideas of seasonal weather, the only choice left as Christmas approaches is to skulk in the mall and hide from the sun. This morning we went to see Wreck It Ralph, an opportunity for Disney to make a non-Pixar animated film that's actually good.

I do wonder about who the target audience is. Are there any children who even know who Qbert was, let alone are nostalgic for 8-bit gaming? Yet if it is for the middleaged and (tragic) hipsters, it doesn't commit the dreadful sin of talking over the heads of youngsters because a children's film is only tolerable to adults if it has non stop innuendo, like a winking, gurning kids' entertainer who is trying to slide double entendre in everywhere. An evil Hudsucker Proxy, if you will. Y'know, for the adults.

The different game worlds that the eponymous Ralph stomps through are beautifully realised; Game Central feels a bit like a photocopy of Monsters Inc, but the faux-Mario Kart game is beautifully sweet, the Gears Of War pastiche is true to the source material without being utterly grim, and Wreck It Ralph's own domain is beautifully 8-bit, with pixellated characters who can only move in straight lines and jerky animations. It's confident enough not to be having to draw your attention to everything it does.

You don't get to be a animated film without some stunt casting for the voice talent, and this time round it's Sarah Silverman. I personally struggle with her voice - the whole aren't I daring making shocking jokes in a babyish voice shtick isn't something that wows me - but it's not overpowering here. John C Reilly, on the other hand, never seems intent on reminding you that you're listening to John C Reilly, which is a generous act on his part.

The plot isn't the most innovative thing that's ever been written but it trundles along happily enough, and though the ending is pretty obvious from the start, the route it takes there has a few ingenious twists. And I never thought I'd be welling up in a Singaporean cinema, watching a fat CGI bloke hurtle towards his imminent doom, but there you are. It must be the Christmas spirit.


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