Now back in August, I let out a post that was centric around the one movie of the entire year that had my most eager share of anticipation: Wreck-It Ralph (and its running mate Paperman). And I probably stated it about a million times how excited I was for the movie, and if I didn’t see Wreck-It Ralph it would be as disappointing as Mark Twain not dying at the arrival of Halley’s Comet. But not only did I see the movie–I saw it on opening day. No, I didn’t see it in 3D, but after those 108 minutes, my mind was so blown I forgot the movie even came in 3D. Now let’s find out if that’s a good mind-blowing, or a bad mind-blowing.
Released on November 2 (it couldn’t come any sooner), Wreck-It Ralph is a computer-animated comedy that is the official 52nd animated feature in the decades-long roster of the Walt Disney Animated Classics, being the first and only entry of the year. (As the 53rd title, Frozen, is coming next year.) Directed by Rich Moore, famous for his animation directing work on Futurama and The Simpsons, the movie–well, I won’t waste my time making up a new plot, let’s just reuse my old one. Wreck-It Ralph “starts at a typically nostalgic down-the-block arcade. One of the titles in that arcade is Fix-It Felix, Jr., where you play Felix himself and must constantly repair the damages of a building facade while the game’s villain smashes away atop the building. That villain is the 9′-tall, 643-pound Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), and for three decades he’s been the guy that everyone loved to hate. And Ralph’s tired of that. And to make everyone notice he can be the hero [by getting a Medal of Heroes], he literally disappears from the game via power cord and joins the light-gun FPS Hero’s Duty, battling “Cy-Bugs” alongside the game’s own hero, Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch). But he doesn’t spend the whole movie in this game, as he later goes onto a candy-themed kart racer called Sugar Rush, and here he meets one of the game’s main characters, [the glitched] Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). Vanellope has learned that her game is faced with a threat that could affect the entire arcade. The worst part? Ralph may have started the whole thing.” Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
If I could cram all my knowledge of seeing the movie into one word, it would have to be “greatest”. Because this is the greatest movie I’ve ever seen. Most people could easily fall for it being a video game movie, but search through all the hard candy and you’re gonna surface with a soft center. Wreck-It Ralph has some of the biggest virtues you’ll find in an animated movie–familiar themes (the behind-closed-doors theme that you may have found in Toy Story or Monsters Inc), well-written laughs, eye-popping visuals, noticeable but still thoughtful messages, and a lot of surprises you’ll love to encounter. It’s not just a cover-up, however, to say that the movie had minimal but still present missteps. Wreck-It Ralph is a treat for kids, adults, and the tech whizzes and tech newbies alike, bringing them an impressive and imaginative incarnation of code, pixels, avatars, pretty much everything in the interactive gaming world. And I thought Captain Underpants had a load of potty humor.
5 out of 5 – Positive messages – Viewers are enticed to accept the ways they are “programmed”, rather than to change their image for others to see. This is exemplified through the bad guy affirmation at a weekly support group for villains: “I’m bad, and that’s good. I’ll never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be…than me.” In-movie characters also learn how crucial it is to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before getting judgmental over them. More themes include inclusivity against exclusivity, and selflessness against selfishness.
4 1/2 out of 5 – Positive role models – Ralph’s journey to make his peer approval a conquest turns into a life lesson of having pride in himself and his contributions. Ralph doesn’t let his status as a villain outdo the virtues that make him a hero; he’s a kind and resourceful character that strives to be the underdog. Vanellope is a spunky but still striving character that refuses to stick with the status quo in her own game–a game that Common Sense Media called “stereotypically girly”. In the game Vanellope also finds a way to control her deficiencies as a glitched character to turn into her biggest upside. Ralph initially dislikes Vanellope but eventually weaves his first big friendship with her. Despite his quirky natures, Sgt. Calhoun manages to work alongside Fix-It Felix in many wild occasions.
4 out of 5 – Ease of view – Wreck-It Ralph may be a toughie to crack for newcomers to the gaming world–naming all the characters, deciphering the natures of games, and so on–but it will still be a treat otherwise that will bring laughter from the mouth and–in some occasions–tears from the eyes. It is a very thoughtful and clever movie that takes video game crossovers and merchandising to the next level, crunching it into nearly two hours of the greatest adventure in video game movie history.
4 out of 5 – Violence – During the Hero’s Duty scene, the game’s characters fire guns at Cy-Bugs to make them explode in bits (no goo or blood is splattered, however). When a Cy-Bug strips Ralph of his gun, his arms are revealed to be giant guns themselves.The Cy-Bugs eventually go on to invade Sugar Rush, which turns it into a very interesting game. In one scene, Ralph clumsily startles a number of Cy-Bug eggs after receiving his medal of heroes, causing them to start hatching one after another. In another scene, Calhoun accidentally drops her already broken sensor (from all the sugar particles), which causes it to go off and evoke eggs to hatch in a wave. When pursuing Vanellope after having his medal stolen, he falls into a pond of sugary sweet goo, and fights through the candy forest to emerge looking like a monster. Moments later though, he is crammed into a giant cupcake and pastry police officers hit him with their nightsticks. When he is taken to King Candy’s lair, one of the officers whips out a candy chainsaw to get Ralph out of the cupcake, causing him to run away in fright. In another scene, Vanellope’s fellow racers destroy her car while simultaneously mocking her glitches, causing Ralph to scare them off. At the villain support group, a cyborg (meant to represent Kano from Mortal Kombat) viciously rips out a fellow villain’s heart. But as this fellow villain is a zombie, no actual damage is done. In one of Sgt. Calhoun’s flashbacks, she reminisces her wedding day, when the party was crashed by a giant Cy-Bug that ate her husband. Cautionary tales about character deaths are spread, like how you cannot regenerate when you die outside of your own game, or how characters can become “homeless” after their games are unplugged. This may upset younger audiences. When Felix welcomes Ralph into his 30th anniversary party–actually, their 30th anniversary party–a piece of the ceiling breaks off and falls on Felix. This does kill him, but as he is in his own game he automatically regenerates. When Ralph suddenly breaks through the walls of Felix’s room in King Candy’s “Fungeon”, some people might be startled. Also, people might be holding back tears when Ralph is forced to wreck Vanellope’s kart. He had done this since if Vanellope was allowed to race, her glitches would put the game out of order and eventually get it unplugged. And this is even worse for Vanellope, since glitches aren’t allowed to leave their games. So that meant if the game actually was unplugged, she’d die with it. Go down with the ship, you know. Calhoun and Felix get stuck in “Nesquik-sand”, and to get strips of Laffy Taffy above them to come down, they must be amused. So against her will, Calhoun repeatedly slaps Felix and gives him various injuries, but each time he uses his golden hammer to repair the wounds. Apparently that hammer doesn’t just fix broken windows, it can fix broken noses.
2 out of 5 – Inappropriate Content – Felix and Calhoun strike a relationship and eventually–let’s just say take their love to the next level, evoking a very passionate kiss. They also smooch in another scene. One iconic character, Street Fighter‘s Zangief, wears only his underwear. Ralph also comes across an apparently used pair of Zangief’s underwear as well, much to his disgust. In another scene, Ralph strips a Hero’s Duty character of his suit, clothing his unconscious body with only Zangief’s underwear. Luckily, the stripping is not actually shown onscreen.
2 out of 5 - Language – Nothing colorful, but potty humor and name calling is frequently seen. “I hate you”, “shut your chew hole”, “numbskull”, “brat”, “doody”, “frickishly”, “buttload”, etc. “Pussy” is also mentioned–but in the word “pussy willows”. In one scene, Vanellope playfully calls Ralph a “son of a gun”. Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive” plays while Ralph teaches Vanellope to drive her kart.
5 out of 5 – Product Placement – Very iconic and famous game characters appear throughout the game, especially in the Game Central Station scene. As I said in my other post, nearly 200 game characters made cameo appearances in the movie. A cyborg resembling Kano, Zangief, Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Cammy, the Pac Man ghosts, Pac Man himself, Q*bert, Bowser, Princesses Daisy and Rosalina, Frogger, the Pong paddles, Peter Pepper, the Qix, M. Bison, Eggman, and Sonic all made appearances in the movie. Coincidentally, Sonic appears giving off crucial lessons about the policies of game death–similar to how he gave eventually pointless tips in “Sonic Says” from Sonic & Sega Racing. Sugar Rush also evokes many references to candy brands. Believe it or not, Skrillex actually deejays Fix-It Felix, Jr.‘s 30th anniversary party–needless to say, his track “Bug Hunt (Noisia Remix)” was featured on the official Wreck-It Ralph soundtrack. Some of the songs used in promos and commercials for the film include Fun.’s “Some Nights” , Lipps Inc.’s “Funkytown”, and Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling”.
3 out of 5 – Drinking, Drugs, and/or Smoking – One scene takes place in the 1983 arcade game Tapper, where customers are shown drinking from beer mugs. It’s apparently root beer, but I’m still suspicious. A game character pours a martini for himself in one scene, and at Felix’s anniversary party some people are briefly shown drinking.
Smarts: A+ (5 points)
Fun: A+ (5 points)
Entertainment: A+ (5 points)
Humor: A+ (5 points)
Style: A+ (5 points)
See-Again Ratio: A+ (5 points)
CONSENSUS: Wreck-It Ralph is probably the most unique animated Disney movie you’ll see this year; it has the breathtaking aesthetics, eye-popping visuals, heartfelt messages, impressive storyline, and endless nostalgia that make for the true antidote of the video game film genre.
PRICE: Well, considering the film went out last Friday, it’s obviously not available for DVD purchase yet. But on Amazon, you can buy the tie-in video game on the Wii, DS, or 3DS! The Wii and 3DS versions of the game costs $30, and the DS version costs $24. Not ready for it yet? You can have a crunch of the entire film in merely twenty songs on the Wreck-It Ralph OST. Seven tenths of the soundtrack is actually film score, ranging from “Wreck-It Ralph” to “Arcade Finale”. The other three tenths belong to actual soundtrack music, with artists Skrillex, Rihanna, Owl City, Kool & the Gang, AKB48, and Buckner & Garcia. Henry Jackman (famous for composing the soundtracks of Monsters vs. Aliens, the 2011 Winnie the Pooh, etc.) has the steering wheel on this one. On MP3, the OST costs $8, but in the flesh it costs $10.
If you want a sneak peek of what to expect of the soundtrack’s quality, check out this amazingly, shockingly, mindblowingly innovative music video showcasing Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?” Seriously dude–this is the best music video you’ll ever see. Or the most creative. Or both.
If you’re too impatient to wait for your time with the movie, check out this nifty four-minute featurette from the Movieclips subsidiary MovieclipsCOMINGSOON, involving things from cast interviews to some sneak peeks at the real movie!
Sort of like how La Luna preceded Brave, this movie–Paperman–preceded Wreck-It Ralph. It is a 7-minute black-and-white silent film that blends the traditional and computer styles of animation. In the film, a man we’ll refer to as The Man is at a mid-20th century train platform in NYC when he is hit by a flying paper. This paper belongs to a woman we’ll refer to as The Woman whom had dropped it when a gust of wind swept by. The same thing happens to The Man when one of his papers is blown away and lands on The Woman’s face, leaving a red lipstick mark on it. When the Man and Woman first depart, the Man is despondent when he believes he’ll never see the woman again. He is proven wrong when he sees the Woman in one of the rooms in a building across the street at work. He uses the contracts his boss gave him, turns them into paper airplanes, and attempts to throw one into the window, but is excessively unsuccessful. Even the paper with the lipstick mark on it fails to fly in. When he fails to see which way the Woman goes after work, he abandons his mission in disgust and sorrow–and let’s just say something magical happens after that…
Now, Paperman despite its length isn’t a very bad movie. In fact, it’s the best black-and-white movie I’ve ever seen. Despite its lack of dialogue, it has a pristine storyline that captures the serenity of its expectations. Despite its lack of color, it still uses the palette it is given to create works of art beyond our imagination. Despite this review’s lack of normality and overuse of imagery and big words, Paperman still manages to show that love can make the strangest things happen, weaving this lesson into a dandy flick with visuals as eye-popping as its unexpected comedy. But then again, the juice that makes it a special Disney movie kinda doesn’t make any sense. And that’s saying something.
(Now, due to this movie not being too prolonged, I’ve decided to narrow down the chart and strip away sections that need to be stripped.)
5 out of 5 – Positive messages – Paperman makes light-hearted humor and heart-warming inspirations out of the fact that love can cause the wildest things to occur, both in realism and human instincts. Some may be able to relate to the Man and Woman’s relationship and what they will go through and fight past to be together–especially those who have already endeavored the scenario.
4 out of 5 – Positive role models – The Man stops at nothing to finally be with the Woman, and quickly gains hope that lights an entire room full of the darkness of doubt. When the Man first throws in the towel on Operation: Lovebird for good, his contract paper airplanes seem to gain motivation to get their “maker” out of retirement. The Woman eventually gains as much enthusiasm towards the Man as the Man does for the Woman.
4 3/4 out of 5 – Ease of view – Paperman may have a premise that some may not know at first, but eventually its amazing visuals, breathtaking direction, and debonair charms will have the viewers swooning. Paperman is also quite frankly one of Disney’s best short movies to date, and definitely one of the most captivating as well.
Smarts: B+ (3.5 points)
See-Again Ratio: A- (4 points)
Fun: A (4 points)
Entertainment: A+ (5 points)
Humor: A+ (5 points)
Style: A+ (5 points)
I am also proud to give Paperman the honor of being our first-ever Popcorn Pick to be in full black-and-white, and the first to not contain any dialogue whatsoever, as well as the first to get at least a 25/30 score. Oh, that reminds me, I should probably introduce my new scoring chart:
Epic Fail (0-5 out of 30) – This movie didn’t even deserve to be reviewed, but I was kind enough to review it anyway. Incredibly choppy direction, surprisingly disjointed scripting, and/or paper-thin scenarios will likely get you in this tier. If you ever do, then you can walk away hanging your head with our official Sammwak Epic Fail Seal.
It’s just as degrading as it sounds, America.
Fail (6-10 out of 30) – Did good enough to escape the Epic Fail tier, but definitely aimed its crosshairs in the wrong direction. Abominable writing, vile editing skill, and small potential will likely land you here.
Poor (11-15 out of 30) – Definitely a lot of noticeable mistakes, but the parts it does perform correctly are very petite and will likely have already gone before the viewers notice it.
Average (16-20 out of 30) – Does have as much pros as it does cons, and while it could’ve been worse–it should’ve been better.
Well Done (21-25 out of 30) – Lots of noticeable merits in directing, scripting, and acting at a skill rate that’s just shy of perfection.
Awesome/Nirvana (26-28 out of 30 for Awesome, 29-30 out of 30 for Nirvana) – This is as high as it gets. These are the most honoring titles you can get on Picks for Popcorn. To be an Awesome movie, you need to impress me. Like, a lot. If you have flaws, I’ll notice them but will likely not come back to haunt the movie. To get the most prestigious title there is of being a pick of nirvana, you need to be solely flawless: you need mind-blowing writing, breathtaking acting that perfectly accentuates this writing, and scenarios that weave together like a master knitter’s work of art. This is clearly a movie that cannot be missed–well, the ones that scratched the bottom of nirvana’s barrel are sort of iffies.
So now that you know the grading chart, you won’t be confused in future reviews!
You know what to do, I’ve been blogging for two darn years! But just to review, subscribe, like, Press This, reblog, share, and come back next time for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak! (That’s kinda my new tagline now, I guess. Well, maybe besides “Stay classy, America.” )
Stay classy, America (see, I told you ),
Videos of the Week: Dubstep. An electronic dance music genre that has been described by Allmusic as “tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.” Some of the most famous dubstep artists out there are likely what I consider the two Founding Fathers of the genre: the British music act Nero, and the American music project Skrillex. And today we’re gonna look at someone who I’d never guess could be converted into dubstep: my good friend Tobuscus. In fact, just last April an artist known as DJ Alex S. remixed the twenty-fourth TobyGames video of Bulletstorm into one of the hottest dubstep songs I’ve ever seen! It’s been seen 1.4 million times, and over 30,000 people agree that this video is the bomb. Do you?
Here’s the original “Gimme That” video at almost 200,000 hits since last March:
Here’s a fanmade video conglomerating Toby’s dancing and the song with over 22,000 hits since last April!