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Wreck-It Ralph

It’s a good time to be a parent right now, as the current crop of quality animated films gracing our screens mean a trip to the cinema can be excellent fun for adults and kids alike.  My own personal favourites over the last few years have been the Kung Fu Panda series, How to Train Your Dragon, and Rise of the Guardians – but now Wreck-It Ralph has muscled its way to the top of the list.

Disney’s tale of the secret lives of characters in Arcade games is a real charmer.  It follows the story of the titular Ralph (John C. Reilly) as he tries to escape his lonely existence as the villain in a wonderfully retro 8-Bit style arcade game and be the hero for a change.  This takes him on a journey through a variety of neighbouring games including the action-packed first person shooter ‘Heroes Duty’ and the cutsey-wootsy kart racer ‘Sugar Rush’ where he meets sassy heroine Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman).

The sheer number of classic video game references (that will no doubt be lost on younger kids) is a joy to behold.  Streetfighter 2, Frogger, Q-Bert, Tapper and even the ‘Konami Code’ are featured and I’m quite sure there’s plenty I’ve missed. I’m looking forward to seeing it again on DVD to see what else I can pick up on a second viewing Even if you aren’t an old-school gaming geek the story is thoroughly entertaining in its own right – it’s funny and fast paced with some great action sequences and just enough scary bits to get the kids jumping.   The voice cast is excellent,  particularly Silverman as the wise-talking Von Schweetz, and the visuals are stunning with some brilliantly thoughtful little touches like the jerky movements of some of the characters that are so reminiscent of the old-fashioned graphics and animation I grew up with.

There’s the odd saccharine moment (which is par for the course with this kind of film) and the story gets a little muddled towards the end but these are very minor niggles that can’t spoil an excellent cinematic experience.   If you have kids then I strongly recommend you use them as an excuse to see this movie.  Even if you don’t you should go anyway, especially if like me you spent too much of your youth shoveling ten pence pieces into coin-hungry video games.

It’s worth noting that the short that preceded the main feature was very enjoyable too – a charming and clever little piece of animation that put a smile on my cynical face.  A welcome extra.

The Ratings Kraken raises a remarkable nine of its horrible tentacles in salute to Wreck-It Ralph.

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