Don’t laugh. It isn’t every day I watch a children’s movie, but for a couple of reasons I have made an exception for Wreck-It Ralph. Someone special in my life loves kids’ movies, and I have a thing for retro video games, so this was a film I was going to see eventually, and it didn’t disappoint. Following the well-established tradition in children’s movies, Wreck-It Ralph is a film crafted of elements that appeal to kids of all ages; it has all of the arcade adventure mum and dad will remember from the early eighties, and the vibrant colours and candy-coated amusements that will set the younger viewers on the edge of their seats. Something else, however, is going on in this film that sets it quite far apart from other purely fun children’s adventure movies – something quite deep, altogether unexpected, and quite wonderful. Philosophy is what is going on, and it is going on at a level that may rank Wreck-It Ralph as The Matrix or the Sophie’s World of the next generation. Be warned though: this is a spoiler alert. Don’t read on if you haven’t already watched the film.
Ralph’s digital escape from his own video game in search of a medal that will make him a ‘good guy’ of sorts takes him out into more modern games, and on an electrical journey that explores the questions of good and evil at a level of sophistication rarely witnessed in university. Gamer legend has it that in the primeval past of the games world “Turbo,” a character overcome with envy for a more modern game, escaped his own game to become the star of the newer format – resulting in both games crashing and being declared “Out of Order” – video arcade death. His destruction of these previous worlds wasn’t the end of Turbo. He simply moved game as a programmed parasite, treating newer game world’s as his host, wherein he fiddled with their coding, creating glitches, to ensure his survival. The result is that innocent characters in his host worlds become enslaved and locked away from the surface like Cinderellas in the basement of the programme. The subtle distortion is not easily detected by the gamer, but within the world of the game – where Turbo is king – everything is just a little bit off; perverted to suit the needs of the parasite. What Ralph encounters within the video game is a world not completely unlike our own.