Wreck-it Ralph and the perfect heroic journey

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Went over to Dubbo today with Will and Alex to see Wreck-it Ralph. And despite being surprisingly expensive and a bit of a strain to get over there (thank you boys) I had a great time and it is a really, really great movie.

It’s part homage to computer games old and new, and part classic heroes journey. Many (most?) pop movies do the heroes journey thing, but Wreck-it Ralph just hits all the right notes perfectly, from character to emotion to sheer fun. The cast is just perfect, and it’s actually intriguing to see how much the animators and writers must work with the casting to actually define the characters — because I’ve rarely seen an animated movie that weaved the actors style and look so completely into the characters.

It has a joy for old arcades that anyone about my age who played games growing up will really identify with, and a great mix of styles and visual inventiveness that crosses all the worlds of the story. From the 8-bit retro of the Fix-it Felix world to Halo-esque Hero’s Duty and the J-pop infused cuteness (with an amusingly brutal edge) of Sugar Rush land, each world is vivid and visually unique and great to look at. There’s an amazing variety of music, from classic (but new) 8-bit tunes, to a track by Skrillex (for Hero’s Duty) and some adorable J-Pop for Sugar Rush (that might drive me nuts in any other setting but works great here).

The storyline is pure Heroes Journey, but as I said it’s done better here than nearly anywhere, and it’s got a tonne of heart and emotion. I should post a detailed Heroes Journey analysis separately, but needless to say it’s the sort of thing I’d use to teach kids about those story archetypes. My sons both seriously enjoyed it, and there was no moment I would have described as inappropriate or scary for either of them.

Wreck-it Ralph: 4/5 stars.

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