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Disney Doesn’t “Wreck-it” with Wreck-It Ralph

10 Nov

After the more recent disappointments of The Borrower Arrietty and Brave, I was somewhat wary to see Disney’s most recent animated film, Wreck-it Ralph.

The advertisements looked promising, giving me a small hope that this would be the film that once more redeemed Disney’s animated films in my eyes, but I reminded myself that the ads for Brave and Arrietty had looked gorgeous too. So when my boyfriend and I finally made it down to the theater this week, I held my breath as the lights dimmed.

To my great relief, Disney had pulled it off. (Possible Spoiler alert!)

Wreck-it Ralph opens with a pixilated Steam-boat Willie, and then the lead character, Ralph begins to narrate over a close up of what appears to be an old arcade game, complete with 8-bit music, where we see Ralph living his day-to-day.

Ralph is the bad guy–but as all the ads point out (and  out of Street Fighter Zangeef’s mouth)–he isn’t a bad guy. It’s easy to feel badly for Ralph, a character who is programmed to be the villain of his game, wrecking an apartment for the hero, Felix, to fix; however, even after the arcade closes and the characters are allowed to be themselves, Ralph is still rejected by his fellow game characters and lives a lonely life in the dump.

The story takes place on the 30th anniversary of Wreck-it Ralph’s game, Fix-it Felix JR, with Ralph attending what appears to be an Alcoholic’s Anonymous style meeting of game villains where he admits that he wishes he knew what it felt like to be the hero. Here Disney playfully injects bad guys from games as familiar as Bowser from Super Mario, Zangeef from Street Fighter, A Pac man Ghost, and Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog along with characters the younger generation may recognize. (I couldn’t figure them out myself.) Ralph also admits that he doesn’t want to be the bad guy any more–but the group of baddies laugh it off and encourage him to take it, “one game at a time.” and not to “go turbo”.

After returning from his meeting, Ralph realizes that the other characters in his game are celebrating their 30 year anniversary with a party and, a little hurt his invitation never arrived, promptly makes an appearance there. The hero in his game, Felix, is a sweet and utterly loveable little man with a magic hammer is urged by his fellow characters to “get rid” of Ralph. Too nice to tell Ralph to hit the bricks, Felix invites Ralph in for cake instead, where Ralph is egged on by some of the other characters and ultimately he ruins the party. Ralph insists to the disbelieving group that he could earn metals just as easily as the hero, Felix, and is challenged by another character that if he gets a metal he live with them in the apartment instead of in the dump.

Urged on by the idea of living with the other game characters, Ralph embarks on a journey to obtain his own hero metal.

The audience travels with Ralph on his journey to be a hero and to be treated fairly through various games as Ralph “game jumps” to a very Halo-esq game called, Hero’s Duty, a one person shooter where he is faced with massive Bug-monsters that become whatever they eat. With absolutely no finesse, Ralph manages to steal a metal, but in doing so, also launches himself (literally) into another game as he struggles with a Bug that has clung to him in a stolen escape pod. They crash land in a game called, Sugar Rush, which is sort of like a candy-land racing game, where the Bug sinks and disappears in frosting. Here Ralph encounters a little girl called, Vanelope Schweet, who promptly steals his hero metal, thinking it’s a coin.

It turns out that Vanelope is in her own string of trouble,  and like Ralph, facing  isolation from her fellow game characters. The other characters claim Vanelope is a glitch that can’t be allowed to race with the other characters (or compete in the reindeer games!) and feeling badly for the girl, Ralph promises to help her.

Meanwhile, In Ralph’s game, the Arcade is open for business again and Ralph is a no show. Gamers who play notice the missing villain and bring it to the manager’s attention thinking the game is broken. Felix and the other characters finally realize that Ralph is missing and Felix promises to “fix-it” and sets off to find Ralph before the plug on their game is pulled. Felix and the female captain from Hero’s Duty team up, Felix searching for Ralph and the captain seeking out the Bug that escaped her game with Ralph.

Wreck-it Ralph is a movie about not making judgements–but even the villain of this film may surprise you. I think it may have been a first for me since I was young that I didn’t immediately know who the villain was and I loved the surprise. (I won’t spoil it for you.) The film is full of jokes that all ages can enjoy between the obvious “duty” jokes to the more adult themed (over the kids heads) jokes, this film is one I would consider seeing in theaters again.  Disney managed to pull it out of the bag for me on this one. The graphics are smooth and gorgeous and even the music is helplessly catchy. It gets a five our of five cupcakes from the Restless Writer scale.

 

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Symphony of the Goddesses

20 Oct

As a kid, one of the first video games that I ever loved aside from Pokemon, was the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for Nintendo 64. I was fascinated by the mind-boggling addictive puzzle RPG style of the game and the wonderful magical storyline the game presented.

Even now as an adult, I will openly admit that I have a love for the Zelda games, and it seems each generation has it’s own favorite that spans from old Nintendo games to  the newest which can be played on the Nintendo Wii and 3Ds.

So it seems only natural that upon being asked if I would like to go to the Symphony of the Goddesses this past week on October 18th at the Wang that I say yes.

The night was cold, but the heat of bodies packed within the balcony seats at the Wang theater was enough to allow most girls to be comfortable in even the flimsiest of dresses as they waited for the seats to fill. Below, we had view of the whole stage and three video monitors placed at different angles. The stage was lit softly, and the musicians could be heard softly testing their instruments; part of a song there, a stray note here for warm ups floated through the spacious theater. As I glanced around the theater, I could see a sea of green as various people of all ages had dressed in Link costumes for the occasion and even a pair as Mario and Luigi.

Then, a great cheer rose up as the conductor entered the stage; she was delicate, blonde and young with laughing eyes and  with a gorgeous brogue she introduced herself as Emiear Noone. The producer, Jason Micheal Paul, was then on the stage, announcing the line up and expressing his love for the games as well, which was followed by massive wave of applause. These were his people, and he was in good company.

The show opened with a bang as a medley of Zelda’s main opening powerfully lit up the room. Noone firmly led the Orchestra as behind them scenes from the most memorable Zelda games lit up the three large screens.

The first act consisted of dungeon music and classic ocarina music, followed by a medley from Legend of Zelda: Ocherina of Time. The crowd could be heard laughing on an off at some of the scenes chosen from the games. Then, abruptly between the first and second half, Noone called our attention once more to her. She admitted it was unorthodox to stop between the first and second half, but wanted to draw the crowd’s attention to the fact that the second half would consist of music selected from Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which involved controlling the wind with what looked like a conductor’s baton. Noone then raised he hand, displaying her own personal wind waker, and proceeded with conducting the rest of the symphony with it.

After the intermission, Paul once mor graced the stage, thanking Rhode Island’s Philharmonic Choir for using their voices along with the powerfully done orchestra music and introducing the second half of the show which concisted of music from Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, and which followed up with music from Majora’s mask.

The show had not one but three standing ovations and was all and all a moving and fantastic experience that was enjoyed by multiple generations and fans of both music and gaming. This was a celebration and an homage to the games, their fans and of course the composer of the beautiful Zelda music, Koji Kondo.

Pokemon Conquest: A review

24 Jun

So recently I hadn’t been investing in any video games, but with the new Pokemon games coming out (Pokemon Conquest, Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon white 2) I heard my inner child throwing a tantrum. For now, I invested in Pokemon Conquest (as Black and White still aren’t in stores just yet.) but i’m not entirely sure if I like it or not.

I suppose that’s my own fault, going and buying a game on a whim before investing some thought into it. But I had thought Conquest would be similar to the Pokemon Ranger series where you are the Pokemon, saving the day in poke-world, but it’s not. In fact, if I had to compare it to any other game, I would have to say that it’s reminiscent of some of the old Yugio card game games, where the cards become chess pieces on a board and they are deigned specific ways they can move and attack to win.

In Pokemon Conquest, you are a warlord in Feudal Japan around the time of Nobunaga. The goal: take over Japan of course! Rather than your typical Pokemon, where you the trainer use Pokeballs to capture your Pokemon, you instead use the power of your mind to “link” with potential poke-partners. You start as the warlord to a kingdom called Aroura, where you are apparently the new-militant in town, and are immediately confronted by a neighboring Kingdom looking to kick you out of your own castle. As this is mainly the tutorial, you easily beat them with the help of one of your newly acquired subordinates. I haven’t beaten it yet, but find it oddly addictive. Gathering more troops, linking with new Pokemon and trying to find the gold “perfect links” , upping energy and ultimately taking over the world with more than a few grumbles is the main attraction in this game.

So for all you strategy addicts out there–this game is for you.

pokemon conquest