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Ten Word or Less Review – Video games still make bad movies.

We could have gone to see Flight or Lincoln or The Sessions but since we were feeling frivolous, and the nerd community had bestowed the effort with much approval, wife and I choose to see Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph.  With a snazzy preview sporting a Talking Heads track, an assembling of many of video game history’s finest and an overall concept which looked fresh and well executed, it seemed like a safe bet for a well spent and amusing afternoon.  After just a few minutes I had that same feeling I did when I was a teenager and just returned from Babbage’s with a new game that wasn’t going to amount to anything.  It begins with all that anticipation quickly leaking away to be filled with depressed resignation that you’ve spent precious dollars on a product you’re not going to care about.

Wreck is no wreck but it’s no Toy Story or Roger Rabbit as more delirious enthusiast have boldly proclaimed.  Yes, Street Fighter II and Q-bert characters fill out the cast and lovable schlub/character actor/living God John C. Reilly gives a nice vocal effort as the title character, but Ralph the movie is a monumental CGI bore, no more distinguished or better than your typical Dreamworks flick or Ice Age movie.  Instead of doing anything genuinely clever with the freedom to use iconic video games and their mascots the makers of Ralph fall into the lazy referential cameo trap.  You’re supposed to revel in the fact that you see Sonic the Hedgehog and not dwell on the fact he doesn’t do anything.  Too much of Ralph works on this ‘spot the character in the background’ type mentality while the actual movie is little more than vaguely charming on occasion.  It’s a mostly dull, sometime annoying, and not nearly clever as it thinks it is cartoon flick which quickly blends away into the rest of the CGI movie heard.  Things are rendered even more irksome when the plot looks to branch away from the norm and embrace something a little more adventuresome, only to fold back on itself and resolve as these things always do.  Anyone looking to compare this to classic Pixar is locked into a mindset of wishful thinking.

Wreck-It Ralph isn’t special or fun.  An afternoon spent revisiting Earthworm Jim or Gunstar Heroes would have been more productive.  It’s just another example of the tired, depressing genre that is the CGI family movie.  I had high hopes and went in with the most optimistic of attitudes, but it was not to be.  As the movie withered away I was reminded of all those times Sonic drowned because I spent too much time underwater or my Mario didn’t time his jump right.  But unlike those times the filmmakers didn’t have another life to go back and try again.  Game over.


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