Video screen to big screen: "Wreck-It Ralph' turns video-game films on their heads

Video screen to big screen: "Wreck-It Ralph' turns video-game films on their heads

November 1st, 2012 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Movies

Wreck-it Ralph

GAMING FILMS

Success in one medium doesn't always translate to another. Even highly successful video games have been used to make terrible films. Here are some of the worst offenders, as determined by review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.

Film // RottenTomatoes.com rating

1994's "Double Dragon" 0 percent

2005's "Alone in the Dark" 1 percent

2003's "House of the Dead" 4 percent

1997's "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" 6 percent

1993's "Super Mario Bros." 13 percent

2005's "Doom" 20 percent

2006's "Silent Hill" 29 percent

King Bowser. Dr. Robotnik. M. Bison. Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde.

To video gamers, these are the names that go bump in the night, the men (or creatures) who stand between them and triumph in their favorite titles. They are the bad guys, and as such, their sole purpose is to be bad.

But what if they didn't want to be evil? What would happen if the bad guy wanted to be good?

Such is the existential crisis faced by Wreck-It Ralph, the anti-hero/hero of a Disney animated film by the same name opening Friday.

Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) has spent 30 years in a fictional arcade game endlessly destroying an apartment building, which then is repaired by the game's hero, Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer). Frustrated by being unappreciated as a mindless monster, Ralph quits and embarks on a game-hopping journey across the arcade to prove his worth as a hero.

The film is a love letter to gamers, featuring character cameos from classic series, such as "Pac-Man," "Altered Beast," "Street Fighter," "Frogger," "Dig Dug," "Q*Bert" and others. Even the fictional titles in the film's arcade, such as sci-fi shooter "Hero's Duty" and go-kart racer "Sugar Rush," are homages to real franchises such as "Metroid," "Call of Duty" and "Mario Kart."

Local gamers said previews of "Wreck-It Ralph" have been enough to get them excited about its debut.

Navigating the legal obstacle course to obtaining so many licenses should have earned the film's producers an extra life or two, said Lorin Jones, 28, a classic game fan from St. Elmo.

"I'm flabbergasted and astonished that they got the rights to use all these video-game characters in a movie together," he said. "I imagine that would have been quite a feat."

Lifelong "Street Fighter" fan Derrick Lowe of Ringgold, Ga., said scenes of Ralph commiserating in Bad-Anon, a video-game villain support group, were hilarious and a refreshing change from the raw treatment given to past game-to-film crossovers.

Video-game films always have been hit-or-miss -- mostly misses -- with poorly received titles such as "Alone in the Dark" (1 percent approval rating on RottenTomatoes.com), "Street Fighter" (14 percent) and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" (19 percent).

Lowe, 29, said "Wreck-It Ralph's" tongue-in-cheek references and inside jokes seem to indicate Disney knows its audience has been wronged in the past.

"As far as representing them with the villains, they are doing it right," he said. "I'm a big sucker for throwbacks, so the more I saw of it, the more I thought, 'Yeah, we'll load the kids up and go watch that.' "

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.