When Disney brought Pixar Animation to become a part of its corporation, the Walt Disney Animation Studio fell deeply into second place in terms of the quality and popularity of the product it was releasing under the Disney banner. Wreck-It Ralph is actually the first Disney CGI animation project that can stand high and tall with some of the best that Pixar has offered. With brilliant animation combined with storytelling that is both supremely witty and wonderfully imaginative, Wreck-It Ralph emerged as one of the finest animated features released in 2012.
Wreck-It Ralph 3D: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Rich Moore
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 101 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 49.99
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Review Date: February 18, 2013
After thirty years of being the unappreciated bad guy in an 8-bit arcade video game called “Fit It Felix, Jr.,” Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) longs for some of the attention and appreciation that gets heaped on Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer), the hero of the game he inhabits. Since the game participants in his game want nothing to do with him, Ralph decides to try to earn hero status and a gold medal somewhere else in Litwak’s Arcade. In the game “Hero’s Duty,” an über-violent combat game, Ralph stumbles into possessing a gold medal, but on his way home he gets sidetracked into a racing game called “Sugar Rush” and has his medal hijacked by a glitchy child racer Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who uses it to gain entrance into a race so she can redeem her position in the game. She refuses to give the medal back unless Ralph helps her train for the race, a race that the game’s ruler King Candy (Alan Tudyk) is determined that Vanellope won’t participate in.
Writers Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee (who based their script on a story by director Rich Moore, Jim Reardon, and Johnston) have created five individualistic worlds for the characters of this story to inhabit: the three wildly different video games from three different eras of arcade machines, the clever Game Central Station where all the games’ members can use to travel between worlds, and, of course, Litwak’s Arcade run by Mr. Litwak (Ed O'Neill) who won’t hesitate to put a recalcitrant game out of business with a simple pull on the electric plug, a bit of business that keeps tension maximized as things go wrong in the various machines. Rules also dictate that if a character gets zapped out of his own game, he can never regenerate thus making the struggles of Ralph and some others life threatening as they face the possibility of termination on two fronts. Inside the games are unique worlds all their own with wonderfully witty and outrageously funny comments and spoofs on familiar parts of our world. (Ralph is astonished at the viciousness of “Hero’s Duty”; “Sugar Rush” has the most: hilarious paean to The Wizard of Oz with Oreos, the deadly Nestle’s Quik-sand, and a boiling soda pool that erupts threateningly when mints are added to it. Elsewhere Ralph attends a meeting of fellow baddies who congregate regularly at Bad-Anon in one of the film’s early comic gems and has running gags with Q-bert in the film’s version of Grand Central Station.) As the film progresses, we get to know so much more about each of the central characters either bonding them to us as appealing albeit quirky protagonists or fostering our rooting interests against them as hissable villains, all played out against both the on-going frantic race and an unexpected invasion of cybugs from the “Hero’s Duty” game which its commander Calhoun (Jane Lynch) feels is her duty to combat.
The voice actors the producers have selected for the project have unmistakably unique sounds that identify them immediately with their characters. There’s no mistaking the crackly mellowness of John C. Reilly’s voice or the spunky shrillness of Sarah Silverman. The voices of Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer are as recognizable as their familiar television characters, too. Only Alan Tudyk who uses a lisping partial imitation of Ed Wynn’s voice as the calculating King Candy isn’t immediately recognizable by the tone of his voice alone. All play their parts magnificently and with great good humor and an admirable spirit of the film’s unique approach to storytelling.
3D implementation – 4/5
The film’s 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The film’s jaw-dropping art direction of these five distinct worlds is wonderfully reproduced here with expert sharpness and color saturation levels that are rich and deep with no blooming even with an abundance of red in the “Sugar Rush” sequences. Blacks are superbly inky especially in the “Hero’s Duty” portion of the film. There is no banding in this pristine transfer. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
As with many of the recent 3D films coming from Disney, 3D front projections are more limited than in Disney’s earlier efforts like Bolt and G-Force. There are rifle barrels and fingers that protrude a bit from the front of the frame, and a splatter of gooey cake seems to come right at the viewer at one memorable moment. But more effort has been placed into giving the image wonderful depth (especially in the “Hero’s Duty” and “Sugar Rush” games) and adding sequences that really put the viewer into the picture (a portion of the madcap race has a roller coaster effect to it that’s particularly immersive). There may have been the slightest bit of crosstalk visible at one point, but it was negligible.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix uses its expansive soundstage to great effect during the “Hero’s Duty” and “Sugar Rush” sequences. Dozens of split surround effects as cars zoom across and through the listening space as well as those venal cybugs flying around offer plenty of opportunities for imaginative use of sound. Dialogue is always understandable and has been placed in the center channel most of the time. Henry Jackman’s music gets a spirited spread through the fronts and rears as well.
The 3D disc includes in 1080p 3D Paperman, the 6 ½-minute Oscar-nominated short which accompanied the movie in theatres. It’s another imaginative gem from Disney as a lonely office paper pusher is brought together with the girl of his dreams through the concerted efforts of his own work product.
The disc also includes 3D promo trailers for Monsters University and Planes.
The 2D Blu-ray disc includes the following bonuses all in 1080p:
Paperman as described above.
“Bit by Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph” features members of the creative team including director Rich Moore, producer Clark Spencer, writer Phil Johnston, art director Mike Gabriel, animation supervisor Renato dos Anjos, and special effects coordinator Scott Kersavage commenting on the various worlds they had to create for the movie and mentioning inspirations for their ideas. It runs 16 ¾ minutes.
There are four alternate/deleted scenes all done in pencil animation with optional commentary by director Rich Moore and writers Phil Johnston and Jim Reardon. They may be watched separately or together in one 15 ½-minute bunch.
Disney artists created commercials for the three video games (plus another non-game ad) at Litwak’s Arcade which can be viewed individually or in a 2 ¾-minute montage.
Disney Intermission on this disc (not present on the 3D disc) is a series of ten brief segments hosted by Chris Hardwick which give insight into many references and allusions to video games of yore and the Disney company. If you keep intermission on, you can see all ten segments back-to-back in 9 ½ minutes.
The disc includes promo trailers for Planes, Monsters University, and The Little Mermaid 3D.
The third disc in the set is the DVD copy of the movie.
The fourth disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie.
4.5/5 (not an average)
Wreck-It Ralph is a delightful and imaginative CGI animated feature that has the Disney Animation Studios doing some of its best-ever work. While the bonus feature package is leaner here than usual for a Disney release, the 3D and 2D video and audio encodes are state-of-the-art. Highly recommended!