Film review | Wreck-It Ralph – A building-smashing bruiser who’s fed up with playing the bad guy

Wreck-It Ralph is the building-smashing bad guy in a 1980s arcade game called Fix-It Felix Jr, but he’s really a big softy at heart.

And in Disney’s jaunty Oscar-nominated animated fantasy, he just aches for a chance to be the hero who saves the day. So he breaks out of his game and sets off on his quest, only to unleash mayhem across the arcade that threatens to pull the plug on a series of games, including his own.

Along the way, the hulking Ralph (voiced by a perfectly cast John C Reilly) stumbles through video games from different eras – which gives Disney’s animators the chance to show off their chops in a variety of visual styles.

Ralph’s misadventures take him from the 8-bit simplicity of Fix-It Felix Jr, a first-generation video game, to the whiz-bang graphics of contemporary first-person shooter game Hero’s Duty, where his blundering search for a medal incurs the wrath of hard-bitten platoon leader Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch, fabulous) and lets loose a swarm of universe-destroying Cy-Bugs.

But it’s when Ralph lands in 1990s cart-racing game Sugar Rush and meets scrappy glitch-ridden misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (a squeaky Sarah Silverman) that he finds his destiny.

For some, Ralph’s spell in Sugar Rush’s candy-coloured world may induce hyperglycaemia, but viewers with a taste for sweet-natured fun will relish the film’s toothsome comedy. As for hard-core gamers, they’ll have a blast picking up all the gaming in-jokes and references that fly over everyone else’s heads.

In cinemas from Friday 8th February.

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