Pixar has shown you what goes on inside the toybox when the lid is closed. Now Disney animation is taking a look at what happens to video game characters when the power button is off.
While the existence of Wreck-It Ralph has been known for some time, Disney’s D23 fan convention brought the first in-depth look at the upcoming animated movie, out in November 2012.
John C. Reilly voices the title character, who is a kind of human version of Donkey Kong — a burly, flame-haired villain of a game called Fix-It Felix Jr. Remember the old Rampage arcade game, where big monsters climbed up and down buildings, picking and punching off chunks to make them crumble? That’s what Wreck-It Ralph does, while the cheerful Mario-esque Felix (voiced by 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer) is the character the players use to repair all the damage. (A mock-up of the arcade game is featured to the left, and a closer look at Ralph is after the jump.)
This lonely villain is having an identity crisis: “This is the story of an 8-bit video game bad guy who travels the length of the arcade to prove that he’s a good guy,” says Disney animation boss John Lasseter.
Even better: like Who Framed Roger Rabbit two decades ago, Lasseter says this movie will bring in “many videogame characters you know and love, from past to present.”
Lasseter introduced the roughly animated first five minutes of the movie, which showed the crowd some of those real-life digital characters who turn up in the story. For instance, Wreck-It Ralph is in a support group for video game villains that includes one of the ghosts from Pac-Man and what looked like the coiled, hopping snake from Q*bert, as well as an ax-wielding zombie from countless first-person shooting games.
The film begins with an almost noir-ish, tough-guy narration by Reilly as we see how his game is played: “Basically, where I come from, there are only two types of guys – good guys and bad guys,” Wreck-It Ralph laments. “I’m 9 feet tall. I weigh 643 pounds. I can’t walk down the street without causing major structural damage.
“Fix-It Felix, he’s the good guy. He’s nice enough, as good guys go,” Ralph says as we see McBrayer’s pixelated character hopping around, repairing the damage. “He definitely fixes stuff well … But if you’ve got a magic hammer from your father, how hard could it be?” he grumbles.
Felix fixes the smashed building and collects a prize at the end of the level. “Can’t there be medals for the sweet science of wrecking?” Ralph asks, before wandering off at the end of the workday to his garbage pit home.
The movie co-stars Glee’s Jane Lynch as Sgt. Calhoun, the heavily armored sci-fi hero of a Halo-type shooting game called Hero’s Bounty, in which Ralph enlists to fight invading bugs in the hope of earning his good-guy bona fides. Director Rich Moore (The Simpsons, Futurama) played a clip of the actress performing her voice work as she punched the air and threw around her shoulders: “Listen Jethro, we are on duty 24/7, defending ourselves against an enemy that never sleeps, even when the arcade is closed. Do I make myself clear!?”
Video game characters in the arcade can jump into each other’s machines via the electrical plugs, which eventually leads Wreck-It Ralph to Sugar Rush, a kind of Mario Kart racing game set in a dessert and candy world. Sarah Silverman voices a character from that game: Vanellope (rhymes with Penelope) von Schweetz.
While Reilly was MIA, Silverman attended the presentation and said she had “a real love-hate” relationship with Disney movies. “I hate that they make me feel. It’s hard. I have a very tiny heart.”
McBrayer expressed amazement that he was chosen to for a character, given his chipper twang: “My own voice irritates myself,” he said, grinning like Kenneth the Page. “So doing it for others is awesome.”
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