Imagine if there was an intricate world inside of the arcade games you loved to play when you were a kid? What if those little 2D characters had a life of their own? Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), the antagonist of Fix-It Felix, Jr, is tired of being shunned by the other characters in his game (whereas the hero, voiced by Jack McBrayer, is celebrated and rewarded). Despite his day job, he’s not a ‘bad guy’, and after growing tired of being ignored, decides to leave his game to prove that he can earn a medal in the hope of being accepted.

Wreck-It Ralph has some lovely visuals. It is rich in detail, and the movements of the characters (tics, glitches and all) replicate their peculiar in-game actions. The attempts to evoke nostalgia are reliant on fleeting references (a brief appearance from Bowser for example) and none of the worlds remained interesting for very long. Ralph isn’t even all that likeable. With Ralph out of Fix-It Felix Jr, the game from the perspective of the outside world is deemed to be broken. This will eventually lead to the unplugging of the console and the characters losing their homes. This is never a concern for Ralph, so preoccupied with his own mission that he doesn’t even consider the repercussions of his defection. Unfortunately Wreck-It Ralph lacks the heart of the Toy Story series, and is neither as funny nor as poignant.

Going inside of the world of the arcade game, seeing the gamers looking in from the perspective of the characters, and watching the villains get together for group therapy is a lot of fun, but once the story moves to Sugar Rush things get bogged in ‘nesquicksand’. There is an exciting race sequence featuring gobstoppers as obstacles, and some inventive traps like a diet cola/Mentos swamp that can be singled out as conceptual highlights. But it certainly wasn’t memorable or warrants a revisit, as the very best animated films do.

The voice cast was fine. Nothing more. While Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer were tidy casting choices, Ralph was pretty much John C. Reilly, which I found distracting, and Sarah Silverman’s voice proved to be irritating throughout.The eye-popping colours and relentless energy of Wreck-It Ralph should keep the kids entertained, and many gamers will find it a hoot, but a poorly paced narrative that felt surprisingly familiar weighs down this sweet holiday romp.

[rating=2] and a half

Andrew Buckle - follow Andy on Twitter here: @buckle22Just be sure you catch the animated short Paperman preceding the feature. That is fantastic.

Andy Buckle is a passionate Sydney-based film enthusiast and reviewer who has built a respected online voice at his personal blog, The Film Emporium. Andy will contribute reviews, features and be our resident film festival, and awards expert.