Wreck-It Ralph’s Hilarious Premiere at D23 Expo

To show that they have managed to become on par with PIXAR, Walt Disney Animation had a few surprises up their sleeve during the studio presentation at D23 Expo. One being a new, 8-bit themed, 3D-animated film called Wreck-It Ralph. After the failure of the fantastic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, I thought the days of 8-bit inspired films were over. Luckily that will not be the case as Disney will release this 3D arcade adventure next year.

The audience was treated to the first four minutes of the film. This preview would be in the form of animated storyboards and rough animation, but that did not stop it from being funny and heart felt due to John C. Reilly’s fantastic dialogue delivery. The scene begins with Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) introducing himself as the villain in an arcade video game. For thirty years he repeats the same routine of destroying buildings while Fix-it-Felix (Jack McBrayer) fixes everything and receives endless praise (and pie) for his efforts while Ralph sleeps in the local dump. He admits it is not so bad, especially compared to so many other game villains that bit the dust over the last 30 years. But when he admits to living in “a lousy cesspool of desperation at the edge of humanity” he is clearly not happy with things the way they are.

He decides he is no longer content, that for once he wants to be the good guy. It turns out he is telling his story to a group called “Bad-anonymous”, an alcohol anonymous type group made up of video game villains where their motto is “One game at a time”. Ranging from generic baddies like a viking or a zombie, to more familiar designs clearly inspired by the Pac-Man ghost and the Big Daddy from BioShock.

The viking character named ‘Tigor’ explains (speaking in the third person) to Ralph that if Tigor doesn’t rip off the hero’s leg and beat him with it…then who will? Admitting that Tigor has accepted his fate as a bad guy, but just because he is a bad guy doesn’t mean he is a bad guy. The rest of the group agrees to this sentiment (even though Ralph has no idea what Tigor is even talking about) and they rise to say their bad guy affirmation “I am bad, and that’s good. I will never be good and that’s not bad. There’s nothing I would rather be.”

This is where the preview ended and when Director Rich Moore, (Of Simpsons and Futurama fame) walks on stage to talk about the film. He explains that no longer wishing to be the villain, Ralph ventures out to the other games in the arcade to find his calling as a hero. A piece of concept art pops up of Ralph after he transports to a futuristic war game, clearly inspired by Halo: Reach, causing laughter throughout the arena. Jane Lynch is revealed to play Sergeant Calhoun, and from the voice clip we heard she sounds like the perfect hard-ass drill sergeant.

Having gotten in way over his head Ralph tries a new game called Sugar Rush, a child’s racing game in a candy coated and dessert themed environment. Imagine Mario Kart meets Candyland. Here Ralph feels he may have a better chance at becoming a hero until it is revealed that at its center, Sugar Rush holds a dark secret. One that can threaten every game in the arcade.

Rich Moore then shows some concept art of Sarah Silverman’s character Vanellope von Schweetz, a young girl who wants to race more than anything and helps Ralph along the way. To everyone’s surprise both Silverman and Jack MacBrayer came out and talked about the film. Sarah Silverman also boasted that, wearing a vintage style Mickey Mouse shirt, she did not buy it looking that way. She had gotten it many years ago and that she is a fan just like all of us in attendance.

To me Walt Disney Animation has had some hits and misses as far as CG goes. However after the phenomenal Tangled, I think they have finally found their stride and are ready to start releasing films that not only challenge PIXAR on a visual level, but on an emotional one was well.

I love John C. Reilly, and him voicing this misunderstood and seemingly tragic character is perfect. You can hear the resentment and hilarious sarcasm in his voice when he talks about being “content” with his terrible way of living. This is a story of what happens in the arcade after everyone is done playing. A story of a villain who wants to change and will travel across worlds to find his calling as a hero. I for one cannot wait until this 8-bit adventure is released in November 2012.

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