DisneyExaminer’s Fall Flicks
– – –Welcome to DisneyExaminer’s ‘Fall Flicks’ – our SPOILER-FREE movie reviews for the films coming from The Walt Disney Studios!
Fall is in full swing right now and so are the movie releases as we approach the end of 2012! In particular, Disney has a few movies that have been on our radar since they were announced during last year’s D23 Expo. From a movie for the gamer at heart to a spooky twist to a tradational story about a boy and his dog, we’re sure that there is at least one Disney flick that will be to your trying this season!
We hope you use this special column as your guide to the various Disney Fall flicks that are going to be released in your local theater.
As with all our movie reviews, we will not spoil anything for you! Our reviews will simply be an overview of what we liked and didn’t like with a focus on the broad themes.
We still HIGHLY encourage you to see the films for yourself and be the final judge! You might just be surprised at what you think…like the fact that we aren’t you and our likes might be different.
With that being said Mr. or Ms. judge, let the Fall flicks begin. Start reading below for our reviews.
— Again a very special thanks to Walt Disney Studios for allowing us to preview the following movies in order for us to give a guiding hand to our readers and ultimately all Disney fans who are anxious to see their releases this Fall!
- Rating – PG for some rude humor and mild action/violence (i.e. no cussing and no blood)
- Runtime – 108 minutes
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From Walt Disney Animation Studios and Emmy®-winning director Rich Moore comes “Wreck-It Ralph,” a hilarious, arcade-game-hopping adventure. For decades, Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) has been overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), the good-guy star of their game who always gets to save the day. Tired of playing the role of a bad guy, Ralph takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a journey across the arcade through multiple generations of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero.
On his quest, Ralph meets tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) from the first-person action game Hero’s Duty, and feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) from the candy-coated cart-racing game Sugar Rush, who may just be his first real friend. But everything changes when a deadly enemy is unleashed, threatening the entire arcade and Vanellope herself. Ralph finally gets his chance to save the day—but can he do it in time?
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The first thing you think about when you hear that there is going to be a movie about video games is that in itself. Video games!
Amid the various questions that might come to mind after hearing such information, the main question that might come up the most is ‘Why?’.
I think in order to answer that, we must clarify that although the subject of video games is indeed at the core of this movie, it is not ABOUT video games. Sorry if you thought it was, but to be honest with you all, it’s still a movie worth watching! Gamers honor.
I’m sure this now brings you to another question – ‘What’s there to look forward to then?’.
Well, we say ‘Much’…to say the least. Here’s what we loved.
1) We loved the story!
It’s been a reoccurring ‘love’ with all the Disney movies that we’ve seen at least for this year. So far as we’re concerned, we think the story to any movie is key to its success. We feel that the pure ‘magic of the movies’ comes not just with extreme action scenes or special effects, but the story that ties it all together and takes you along for the ride.
The story that is so ‘programmed’ throughout ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ was something that myself, my cousin Lance, and our head writer Mike weren’t expecting from a movie surrounding video games because who buys video games purely for the story? Not many. It’s different with movies though because stories in movies make movies!
The story of the movie (as you might have read above in the Synopsis section) may seem familiar to you, but its more than that! It is indeed about a guy trying to find out who he really is and/or what he’s meant for, but expect the story and plot to be filled with lots of “heart” as Executive Producer John Lasetter put it.
What is this “heart”, you ask? After watching the movie, it was clear to us that it was the things that brought us raw emotion. One moment you could be laughing at some video game reference and then a second later be tearing up (which we did) at an interaction between two characters. It was an emotional roller coaster-type of a movie which further proved to us (and the other kid and adult audience members that were with us) that the story was a success.
As my cousin Lance put it,
“[the movie] had me deal with emotions I didn’t know a man can feel during a movie. It made me laugh to my hearts content, but still had scenes where I was left sitting on my seat crying like an infant.”
Disney tells great stories. According to the filmmakers, that was their intent – to carry on the legacy that Walt Disney himself did when he was around to create the first Disney animated movies. To those filmmakers, we applaud your effort because you certainly are carrying on that legacy with this film.
2) We loved that we could relate.
Going back to the subject of video games, we think we must further clarify that video games play a very important role in this movie. It was the vehicle that supported the story every step of the way.
As DE head writer Mike pointed out, “All the video game references were so cleverly thought out…”
So to address all the gamers reading this review, you can still expect A LOT of video game references in the movie spanning from the days of Nintendo, Sega, and even earlier with the 8-bit video games like Pac-Man. You’ll probably even be reminded on how you activated cheats in the games too…
For the other audience members who aren’t too keen about video games, you can still expect relatable moments in the form of your favorite brands appearing as random surprises in the various worlds that Ralph travels through in the various video games shown throughout the film. You’ll get ’em!
Also for those less savvy with video games this day and age, we’d like to finally answer that question if you need to know about video games to get the movie by saying “No!” and that’s because the movie was made to be “real”.
3) We loved the realism.
It’s not that often that you watch an animated film and think how real it was. I’m sure you’ve thought that same thing when you played your favorite video game. You might have wanted that certain character to shoot beside you in battle or be best friends with this pretty looking (animated) girl.
This movie fulfills that dream of yours in that these characters were made to REAL – people, stories, and emotional responses that you could relate to which further pushed the realism. We really can’t give that much more away without spoiling the movie, but you should be able to know the characters and environments by the end of the movie because they showed that they had “heart”.
Another thing that we found also pretty awesome with the realism aspect of the film was the innovation made through animation. What you’ll find as you travel with the characters through these different video games is that each game was its own world. It wasn’t just one fluid shot to another.
Disney animators had to keep the 8-bit video game style in one scene and transfer to first-person shooter style in another. The attention to detail in this alone gave the movie that real video game feel, but still gave support to the realism that was found in the characters’ dialogue and actions. Props to Disney Animation for all that!
But there’s one thing that stuck in our minds for most of the movie and that was the almost constant laughing we all shared in the theater (and not because of John C. Reilly…).
4) We loved the comedy!
We figured we’d end our review with this last ‘love’. The movie does have its serious “heart” parts, but you can expect A LOT of laughs. From ‘Press Start’ to ‘Game Over’.
We can tell you that the comedy is not crude and is kid-friendly, but that doesn’t mean that the adults can get in on the laugh action!
For myself, Lance, and Mike, we found that a majority of our laughs and accompanying applause came from two places: 1) seeing our favorite video games alluded to in a Disney movie and 2) the high-larious play on words (you’ll know all of them when you start cracking up. It’s THAT funny…and we are ‘mature’ guys!).
To further reason why we loved the comedy even more is that it wasn’t placed without a purpose. There were times where the comedy gave us that relief after those “heart” moments, but none of the comedy was placed without tying into the main story or scene somehow.
Good screenwriting (with comedy in mind) is an art, folks. Let no one tell you otherwise. It separates the good comedy movies from the bad.
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The Final Verdict –
I guess I’ll take this review full circle and recount what I said in the beginning. Who makes a movie centered around video games?
Disney does and they sure knew how! By utilizing the concept of video games, Disney used it to tell another great story as the awesome storytellers they are.
Even before the actual movie begins, the animated short called ‘Paperman‘ will be the primer to what you’ll actually see in the movie. The “heart” that John Lasetter speaks about will pull at your heartstrings one paper airplane at a time…
Going back to ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ though, Disney animators used animation techniques and massive amounts of research to stay true to its video game roots in order to put us in a world that we’ve known all too well…and perhaps still do.
Disney used actors and actresses together to give voice to the raw emotion that comes from a great “heart”-filled story.
Disney gave the movie “heart” by making the characters “real people” through a simplistic plot line that you, your kids, or the kid in you can relate to.
Disney made us laugh through purposely placed elements and plays on words that will hit EVERY generation of audience.
Disney made us cry. And the DE team that watched it with me consisted of all guys. That says a lot, folks and in this case, it was a good thing.
All in all, Disney gave us a movie that will appeal to all audiences of all ages using video games. How?
They seamlessly combined all the elements a great movie has and put it into one complete package. Just like an Xbox 360 bundle you buy that has the controllers, game, and console all in one box – it had everything in it to get the good times rollin’!
We can honestly say that there was nothing that we disliked about the movie. We might have just lost all credibility with you, reader, but hear us out! We left the theater with a satisfied feeling that not even the best video game could give us.
Even if it was ‘Game Over’ for us at the end of the screening, we will certainly be back in the theaters this weekend when it releases to the public to ‘Insert Our Coins’ into the machine that is our local box office ready again to join Ralph, Vanellope, Felix, and the others in an adventure that you’ll want to ‘Save progress’ on in your head every 8-bit moment to next.
Game on, folks. Go see this one.
We give it two giant fists way up.
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I’d like to also give a shout out to my cousin and DE contributor Lance Cruzado and DE head writer Mike Ayala for accompanying me to the screening and sharing their comments on the film. Read their full comments by clicking HERE.
All reviews are made by Jordan Poblete, Editor-in-chief of DisneyExaminer.com. All reviews are personal opinions and may not reflect the attitudes of other writers for DisneyExaminer.com unless stated otherwise.
These films have been screened prior to the release date for review purposes and therefore are viewed without charge by The Walt Disney Studios.