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March 20, 2015

VGFlicks: Wreck-It Ralph (Part 3)

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

So, I ended Part 2 at what might be the darkest hour in Wreck-It Ralph. On an emotional level, anyway. Ralph is alone at the Penthouse in the game Fix-It Felix Jr., has made everyone else from that game flee, may have brought more than one game world to destruction, his “friend” Felix is imprisoned in King Candy's castle, and he made a little girl cry. I don't care how small the last one sounds compared to the rest. It's terrible. Ralph looks at the medal he gained in Hero's Duty with anger, and tosses it at the screen of the Fix-It Felix Jr. arcade cabinet. Oddly, the Out Of order sign scotched to it slips off... and Ralph gets a quick view of the Sugar Rush arcade cabinet. (...Oh hey, I didn't call it Candy Crush for once!) Ralph looks at it, and notices something odd: Vanellope is pictured on the side of the machine! ...Wait a minute...


Holy sweet mother of Bowser. Oh my land!
Things aren't much better in Sugar Rush. Like I said, Felix has been imprisoned in the dungeons under King Candy's castle (Candy call it his “fungeon”. That pun really sucks, and trust me, I know a lot about bad wordplay). And Calhoun, who's searching around the racing game for traces of the Cy-Bug Ralph unintentionally brought with him, ends up finding it underground... with hundreds, if not thousands, of Cy-Bug eggs. Holy Konami!


Yet another of the rare times when Ralph actually looks
threatening... even if it's just a few frames.
P.S. Sour Bill looks like a green Rayman Kirby, huh?
Ralph goes back to Sugar Rush and interrogates Sour Bill... by menacing to eat him. Ya know, Ralph, neither of you is gonna find it enjoyable. Bill will not like remembering your entrails once he respawns, and you're probably gonna suffer from stomach acidity. Sour Bill confesses that King Candy has taken everyone's memories away, and tampered and broke Vanellope's code to make her into the glitch she is now. He also admits to locking Felix in the “fungeon” (In the name of all that is Nintendo, please never remind me of this awful pun ever again!). He also quips that Vanellope crossing the finish line would reset the game and bring everything back to normal. Ralph picks up the broken kart, breaks into the fungeon (Aaaargh!), and convinces Felix to forgive him and rebuild the kart. Then they go free Vanellope, who has also been locked in there.

"I'm bringing it back to you only if you promise not to
make 'Duty' jokes again."

You go, girl! Reach that finish line!
So, the great Sugar Rush race to determine the day's roster now begins, and this time, King Candy believes there's no Vanellope to ruin it! So the race starts, and then Ralph, Felix and Vanellope arrive with Vanellope's kart. Our little champion starts a little far behind, but she's still going to win! I can feel it! She reaches the others pretty quick, but it turns out all, yes, all of the other racers attempt to block Vanellope or slow her down (common reaction towards the player character from CPUs in a racing game). Thankfully, none of them really succeeds, to a point where only Vanellope and King Candy are still racing. That's it! Vanellope has almost reached King Candy's kart! She finally gets in first place when Candy goes on the wrong track. But then, in a cave track reminiscent of both Rainbow Road and Fruit Rolls at once, Candy makes a surprise comeback – oh noes, that was a shortcut! - and rams into Vanellope's kart. A fight ensues between the racers...

Whoa, King Candy, you're even more insane that you let out till now!

I like my apocalypse chocolate-frosted.
...all while the thousands of eggs laid by the lone Cy-Bug hatch, releasing just as many alien insect monsters in Sugar Rush. They proceed to devour everything in sight. How convenient, this is an edible universe! Also convenient that Calhoun retrieved Ralph and Felix near the finish line merely seconds before the great hatching. ...The Great Hatching. Sounds like a pretty awesome name for the current disaster. It sounds ominous, serious, terrifying, like the Red Wedding. (For those who are wondering, no, I never watched Game of Thrones. I just like making references.) Seems like I was wrong earlier: THIS is the darkest hour.

Boom! Never saw it coming, did you?
The fight between Vanellope and King Candy is still ongoing, but the glitchy racer grabs a pole used by K.C. and transmits her glitch to him. Candy slowly changes his appearance... until he becomes a snail. Nah, just kidding. He turns into a pale, white, creepy racer. He was better known as Turbo. Does that ring a bell? It should. Now outed, Turbo says he didn't spend so long hacking into Sugar Rush to become ruler of that world to let it all go to waste because of a little glitchy girl and a larger-than-life wrecker! (Seriously, as much of a Jerk-Atlus Turbo may be, it must have taken some serious dedication to create everything that would put him in this spot.)

The villain keeps glitching between the King Candy and Turbo appearances now. King Turbo attempts to kill Vanellope, but thankfully she escapes thanks to her own glitches and speeds away from the cave. Sadly, Turbo-Candy doesn't have as much luck, since the Cy-Bug brought in Sugar Rush by Ralph appears before him and eats him.

Off the track? Come here, helpful Lakitu!
Oh right, that's in another game...
Calhoun redirects all the candy-people to the exit of Sugar Rush. Ralph manages to defeat plenty of Cy-Bugs just by punching them (then again, Ralph is so strong he could bend a Canadian quarter and on the head side of the coin, the Queen would get a nosebleed). Sadly Vanellope's kart gets struck by Cy-Bugs coming from underground, and she ends up off the track. It's pointless, there is no finish line anymore! All they can really do is escape, leave Sugar Rush. But Vanellope is unable to leave, there's a barrier preventing her from quitting! If only there was a beacon in this racing game that could erase the Cy-Bugs easily... Ralph once again shows he's not just brawns, takes Calhoun's hoverboard, and flies off towards the diet cola mountain.

Impenetrable barriers. Love 'em when they protect you,
curse them when they're keeping you away from safety.
Hopefully he won't crash the hoverboard like he did with the
spaceship...

RALPH SMASH! ...I don't even know why I'm saying that.
As soon as he gets to the top of the mountain, he starts smashing the Menthos. Product Placement saves the day! And it's not the first time in the history of cinema that this happens; Head & Shoulders provided the solution to destroying the monstrous, giant aliens at the end of a lil' not-too-serious science-fiction flick called Evolution. Anyway, Ralph wrecks the Menthos and tries to make them all fall into the diet colava (Lava-cola, colava, I love neologisms), and is about to smash a final time... but then gets thrown back. Oh no! A Cy-Bug! A giant Cy-Bug! With a head and arms...


Oh, King Candy Grampa, you have such big.... CLAWS!!!
Seriously though, awesome design. Take note, however,
that he's still glitching between this face and Turbo's.
Holy Select Button, but, this is Turbo-Candy! He fused with the Cy-Bug! We are now facing a King Cy-Bo! Er... A Cy-King Turdy! ...No, that sounded deeply wrong. A King Candy Turbo Cy-Bug, alright??? Turns out the final boss in this lil' game story is none other than both major villains, combined! Hey, at least he looks more awesome than Super Dimentio ever will. Ralph attempts to throw a final punch to the Menthos, but gets curbstomped by TurKingCan-Bug. The villain(s?) grabs Ralph and goes far high in the skies of the now very dark Sugar Rush, forcing him to watch Vanellope getting eaten alive by Cy-Bugs who are coming towards the game's exit.

We'd like you to keep in mind who the real bad guy is.
Just in case you want to treat him better than he deserves.

"I'm bad, and that's good. I will never be good, and that's
not bad. There's no one I'd rather be... than me."
Thankfully, Ralph sets himself free, and as he falls, he looks at Vanellope's homemade medal a final time. Fist first, he obliterates the Menthos ceiling over the diet cola volcano... and is ready to die in order to save another game. (Never mind the fact that by doing this, he's also condemning Fix-It Felix Jr. to be unplugged, leaving the Nicelanders and Felix homeless.) But the punch is powerful enough to cause a shockwave that can be seen from the exit leading to Game Central Station. Vanellope sees this and runs – or rather, glitches – her way through the hordes of Cy-Bugs, expertly avoiding them. Ralph is still falling when Vanellope drives inside the diet cola mountain with a kart (not hers) and catches him mid-flight, before glitching out of the mountain. Geez, I could have sworn Diet Cola Mountain was a little too far from the exit for this to be possible... but I don't think there's a reason to complain.

Saved by the Brat! Soon on a TV near you.

Killed by a bug zapper. What a lame way to go.

Vanellope will chuckle at their tears for a moment.
So, Diet Cola Mountain emits a column of light, which all the Cy-Bugs get attracted to and zapped. Even King TurBug, who also becomes attracted to the beacon, but since he is fully aware of his current situation, it just makes his demise even more satisfying. With all threats to Sugar Rush being eliminated, Felix repairs the Finish line, and Ralph pushes Vanellope and her kart over it, causing a reboot that repairs the entire Sugar Rush 'verse. Oh, and it also causes Vanellope to gain a big frilly dress. Turns out she was the true ruler of Sugar Rush, which is exactly why she was targeted by Turbo in the first place. Also, as soon as they remember that fact (the reboot also caused their memories to come back), all of a sudden the other racers start pleading for forgiveness. Yeah, like they'll ever get it! They were just Nicelanders 2.0. Now that I think of it, at least they had their memories wiped out and got told not to trust the glitchy girl. The Nicelanders have no such excuse.

Happily ever after? Yep, 'till their games get unplugged.
With everything in Sugar Rush back the way it was supposed to be, Ralph, Felix and Calhoun leave just in time, and show up in their respective games. With Ralph and the others back in Fix-It Felix Jr., Litwak sees everyone is back to work – well, at least Ralph is, that's a good sign – and leaves the game plugged in. Catastrophe narrowly avoided! Also, Felix and Calhoun get married (and I seriously wonder where did they go for their honeymoon).


When I take screenshots from the movie, why is it that the
characters end up having pervy grins on their faces?
Ralph has learned to enjoy his job as a video game villain, because at the end of the day, that's all it really is: A job. And while the Nicelanders should have treated him nicely in the first place, since there wouldn't be a Fix-It felix Jr. arcade game without him, at least they now recognize his importance and give him little gifts every once in a while. He even gets cake! Cake! Sure, Gene might still be a grumpy Nicelander. Though, that might have to do with the fact that now, Fix-It Felix Jr. has a bonus level in which Gene literally gets blown out of the building.

Oh yeah, did I mention that many homeless video game characters now live inside the Fix-It Felix Jr. arcade cabinet? Ralph has destroyed the Penthouse enough times to build dozens and dozens of copies of it... But what he likes above all else is when, from his own game, he sees Vanellope racing. To think she would still be miserable weren't it for him... if he helped her so much, just how bad can he be?

Goodbye, everyone!

(Do NOT cue “How Bad Can I Be?” from The Lorax. Do NOT.) (However, another round of nose-blowing and tear-wiping ensues.)

And in the end, beyond the video game worlds shown to us, that's what this entire story is: A reflection about good, evil, what those words imply, what are their context within video games, when these terms are simply roles, and when they're used to honestly describe how some people really are. I never got the “villain” vibe from Ralph; we all know he only wrecks the building because there wouldn't be a game if he didn't. I don't even get the “villain” vibe from any of the characters at the Bad-Anon meeting; you can tell they all know it's just a role at the end of the day. It's only once the arcade is closed that we see everyone's true colors, beyond the ones scripted in the program. The Nicelanders are “good guys” in Fix-It Felix Jr. but otherwise treated Ralph horribly. Taffyta and the other racers in Sugar Rush were most likely very sweet (pun intended) during races, but on the off hours... As for Calhoun, she didn't really change outside of her game, but that's because she was programmed with a backstory that technically had no effect on the actual plot of Hero's Duty, and she has a cutscene programmed in the game where she berates her soldiers, so I guess that really is her personality. In other words, regardless of the situation, she's gonna act like the Disney Queen of Badassery that she is.


Same could be said for Turbo; he was literally programmed with an ego larger than his own arcade cabinet. Just see him push aside the racers in second and third place on the podium, when we get glimpses of his original game. He was always an egotistical jerk, but no one would have guessed that he would start working on such a grand scheme. The amount of work he's put into stealing the throne in Sugar Rush is impressive, but at the same time, it's all part of his character. This just goes on to show that any character in this world could behave very differently to the way they do in the scripted events that form the games... or perhaps they don't. It depends on how much of their personality was written into the game they came from.

Who wouldn't like a guy like this?

Disney brings to us an epic story that would have been even larger, if they had managed to keep everything they wanted to put in. It's just a concept that lends itself to thousands of possibilities: The characters within the video games at an arcade are sentient, and can travel from a game to another. While I applaud the complex story and characters in Wreck-It Ralph, I have to admit that at times, it felt like they had too much to show at once. I can understand, it gets difficult to pick among the ideas brought by this concept. The result is a plot that is definitely interesting, enjoyable and fun, tapping into everything that makes a great movie (especially when it comes to emotions; seriously, keep a tissue box on standby when you watch it for the first time). But at the same time, this overload of information makes it feel a tad unfocused. By the end, we understand that all the games visited by Ralph through this adventure form a cohesive story, but it's a little jumbled with bits and pieces, and sometimes the other elements tend to distract a bit. There are so many directions this story could have taken, we can't help but feel the film's makers didn't put enough stuff in. But they still put everything needed for a great movie. There was a fine balance to maintain, they managed to find it, and I applaud them for this.

Another interesting part of the movie is how the style tends to differ between games. In Fix-It Felix Jr., the Nicelanders walk in small, jerky movements, a throwback to the early 8-bit animations. You can also see Tapper move similarly in the scenes at Tapper's. In Hero's Duty, the movements are fluid and the characters are highly detailed. In Sugar Rush, everything is made of candy, which is a treat for the eyes (pun intended), and the characters are all chibi-like characters with large heads and small limbs, and they're all adorable. Everyone else has their own mannerisms: The ghosts from Pac-Man can't help but hover left and right and the bars from Pong are always playing. Don't get me started on the hundreds of neat little touches here and there that you'll only start noticing on repeated viewings, whether it's the details on some characters, or the graffiti on the walls around Game Central Station... The music is also very good, though I might question the use of commercial songs such as Celebration or Shut Up And Drive. Not that they're unwelcome, they sure add to the feel of the scenes they're in, but I was kind of expecting, maybe, original stuff? Well, we're also served on that aspect, whether it's Skrillex's Bug Hunt, or Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph (done by Buckner and Garcia, the creators of the original Pac-Man Fever song! P.S. R.I.P. Gary Garcia), or the Sugar Rush theme... There's plenty of great tunes on this soundtrack.

Gosh, be more subtle!
This comment was brought to you by Krispy Kreme.
My other point of criticism is the lack of subtlety in product placement. Sugar Rush is a sugar products advertiser's pixellized dream come true. But then again, that's rather minor, and there's probably a good reason... After all, getting the rights to all these characters for use in the film must have been pretty expensive. Does that mean the potential sequels will also take place mostly in Sugar Rush? I hope not, but that wouldn't be too bad, would it?

It's just a great movie. One of Disney's finest recent movies, destined to become a classic. I love this movie, I never get tired of watching it, I might have watched it at least three times to write this review... and it's probably the first movie I'm reviewing for VGFlicks that I'm outright praising! If you haven't watched it yet like I asked you to, well, now you know the entire plot. You still should try to watch it ASAP, because you won't be disappointed. If you have seen it, however, I hope you share my opinion. If you don't... well... it doesn't really matter, everyone has the right to think whatever they want.

You know, this entire film is about the place of good and bad, nice and mean, and a character's quest to become a good guy after a life spent being seen as a villain. And Ralph suddenly feeling like a real bad guy because he was mean to Vanellope... I've been becoming a little more cruel towards the games I review... does that mean that I... I... Am I becoming mean? ...Aw, Hell no! I'm still good ol' Nico! ...Right? ...right...

...next week: Super Scribblenauts.