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March 16, 2015

VGFlicks: Wreck-It Ralph (Part 2)

When we left in Part 1 (which you can read here), Ralph had "earned" a medal, but found himself into an escape pod with a pretty nasty alien creature called a Cy-Bug latched onto him, and landed in a racing game called Sugar Rush. Felix was searching for Ralph, because the big guy's quest for recognition took too long and he didn't show up when a girl tried to play Fix-It Felix Jr., so now their entire world could be unplugged! Thankfully, he can now count on Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun, from the game Hero's Duty who fears that the runaway Cy-Bug might cause a virtualpocalypse.

Okay, that pun was not intended.

Finally a place dedicated to chewing scenery!
When the escape pod crashed, Ralph was sent flying because of the automatic seat ejection system, and landed in a puddle of chocolate. He quickly notices that the medal he earned was no longer around his neck... and there it is, hanging at the top of a candy cane tree! Our video game “villain” tries to climb to get it, but a little girl (voiced by Sarah Silverman) comes by to mock him. She notices the medal and rushes to get there, but Ralph manages to get there first. Too bad she still manages to get it in the end, with Ralph falling into a lake of green goo. Why did he fall? The double-striped candy cane tree branch he was hanging on had disappeared. Apparently, platforming physics are required in racing games. Who knew. Seriously though, don't you hate it when video game physics rally against you?

Easiest earned medal ever.

During that time, Felix and Calhoun have gone from Hero's Duty to Game Central Station. Sergeant Calhoun explains that the Cy-Bugs were programmed like viruses; all they only ever do is reproducing or attacking life forms. And the only way to destroy all of them at once is to use a beacon that will produce a destructive beam of light that will attract all of them and destroy them. Like a giant bug zapper. Wow, those who designed Hero's Duty really didn't think twice about that kind of thing... well, then again, they probably didn't believe that there was life inside the game they created. We also get a nice little moment from Calhoun's programmed backstory: Her fiancé was eaten alive by a Cy-Bug at the altar, because she didn't do a perimeter check on that one day. Yay. Never mind the fact that this has probably technically never even happened for real and is all in her memories nonetheless...

Well, at least they got rid of a huge Cy-Bug...

Zoom in on the Jumbo-Tron. There are plenty of weird
names on it.
In Candy Crush-I mean, Sugar Rush, the young girl who stole Ralph's medal made her way to a race track, just as the game's ruler, King Candy (voiced by Alan Tudyk) was announcing the nightly race. Sugar Rush offers a new selection of racers every day, and these are decided in the nightly race, where the 16 or so racers duke it out in one mega-race made of bits and pieces from all the races in the game. All the chibi racers toss a coin in a large machine, and their name gets added to the competition. You're not gonna be surprised if I say that all the racers are named after sugary stuff... kinda: Rancis Fluggerbutter, Crumbelina DiCaramello, Taffyta Muttonfudge (WTH???), Candlehead (Okay, I really don't get that one). And the final one, that little girl who was pestering Ralph, is... Vanellope Von Schweetz. She tosses the medal in the machine and gets her name added to the roster... But since she has a tendency to be glitching, which is treated like an illness or a disability of some kind in this world, it's apparently bad news, so two pastry cops, Winchell Éclair and Duncan Doughnut (Okay, I made up their last names, I plead guilty), start chasing her down.

Rack your brain, Nick. There HAS to be a reference here to
one of Disney's properties... Maybe?
That's when Ralph arrives, all covered in green goo, to also chase after Vanellope. The other kid racers all run away, while Vanellope goes to hide under the boxes where the candy-people watching the race are sitting. Of course, Ralph lifts these large, heavy things and tosses them aside easily. I swear there must be a reference here somewhere, and I'm sure it would be hilarious if I pointed it out, but I really can't, right now. Ralph eventually knocks down a muffin, which falls on him, and he gets stuck in it, so I guess the candy kingdom is safe again. Thankfully they didn't go the Adventure Time route; this world could have had a princess made of candy. That would have been awkward. It doesn't help having human children characters as racers in a world so chock-full of candy that you get diabetes just looking at it. Also, the kids in this world like candy. They live in a candy world. The audience is made of candy-people. Taffyta licks the lollipops in her hair. The unfortunate implications just keep on piling up!

It's the cake that spills the cup!
...Okay, that was pretty bad. But still better than "Fungeon".
Ralph is brought to King Candy's castle, which in my opinion doesn't look “candy” enough. And boy, there's an awful lot of pink in there. I don't care if it's “salmon”, your sugar highness, it still looks pink! After Ralph explains that he won a medal in Hero's Duty, King Candy appears concerned. Game-jumping is a dangerous thing to do! But it seems the King of Skittles would rather take care of the glitchy little Vanellope than help Ralph get his medal back, so he orders the giant man leave his castle. Our favorite villain (Ralph, not Candy) manages to escape, breaking free of the muffin at the same time, and runs away. Well, so far King Candy seems to be the meanest character in the movie. Achievement Unlocked: Mean Sovereign.

Stop breaking her homemade kart! It's not gona win anyway!
On his way out, Ralph sees the kids in the middle of a race, stopping around Vanellope who was working on her kart. The kids begin mocking her for being a glitch and proceed to break her (very modest) kart. Kids, leave her alone! Pick on someone your size! Uh... they're her size... I mean, uh... Kids, this ain't Smash Bros.! When they toss Vanellope into a puddle of chocolate, it's the last straw for Ralph, who interferes and scares them away. P.S. Taffyta is the closest a PG movie will ever get to an alpha b- bbb- bbb- I said I wouldn't use curse words or insults in this review! She's an alpha cruellie! See, I had to make up a word! Why am I giving myself these self-imposed challenges, I never beat them anyway!

At first, Ralph is still angry, but he makes Vanellope laugh by mentioning Hero's Duty (seriously though, these jokes could have been removed for the most part, Vanellope's jokes aren't even so funny, they all revolve around the same poop joke). After Ralph shows off his incredible strength, the two come to an agreement.

Just showing the difference in size... Ralph is 9 feet tall,
Vanellope is maybe 2 feet tall. Gives you an idea...

For a racing game, it sure has a lot of places without any
race track...
Meanwhile, Felix and Tamora Jean Calhoun are investigating the damage done by Ralph with the escape shuttle, and Felix explains that Ralph may have decided to “Go Turbo”, an expression that already came up earlier in the movie. The FPS was plugged only a week ago, so Calhoun doesn't know everything about life at Litwak's. He tells the story of racer Turbo, who was very popular at the time of 8bit games. But Turbo was a vain racer, and he couldn't stand not being the center of attention... so when a 16bit racing game came into Litwak's arcade and stole his audience, Turbo tried to integrate himself into the other game... while gamers were playing. This caused numerous glitches and led to both games being Unplugged (which, in this world, means the death of the worlds within the games that were unplugged, and the deaths of everyone who didn't leave on time). Since then, “going Turbo” refers to a character invading another game during daytime. And since Ralph is an important character in Fix-It Felix Jr., the game could be unplugged by the next day! Kudos to this movie for giving some everyday words a totally terrifying new meaning!

One of these two does  not belong here.

And no, going Turbo does not mean giving super-speed to a snail. That would be an unnatural abomination!

Urgh, you gotta be kidding me!
So, the platform under Felix and Calhoun disappears (DOUBLE STRIPE SHALL KILL YA!!!!) and they fall into Nesquiksand. God, the product placement in Sugar Rush. It's all painfully obvious, almost to the extent that they start pointing them out in a mocking way. Even me at home, watching movies with VLC Player on my Samsung monitor, while sipping Pepsi, munching on Great Value popcorn covered with Kernels ketchup powder, I'm more subtle than that! So, they get out of this chocolate quicksand in a most comedic way; Calhoun just punches Felix repeatedly in the face, and he repairs his own face with the hammer, every time. That leads to laughing taffy (huh?) coming down towards them, so Felix picks one up, grabs Sgt. Calhoun and the taffy lifts the both of them onto a candy tree branch – a safe one, this time. The two look at each other, while a Heavenly choir of laughing taffies sing around them.... Hey! How about we wait till the film is over before we start the couple shipping? The two resume their search for Ralph and the Cy-Bug, respectively.

It's still a bit too early for this choir.

You can tell she loves it.
During that time, Ralph and Vanellope sneak into the kart bakery (re-huh? How does that even work???), and Ralph helps Vanellope making a kart through a series of minigames. The result is... not quite as pretty as the other karts in the game, but not half bad either. In fact, Vanellope loves it, she's awestruck, and we get a precious moment of complete happiness. Sadly, the guard at the bakery (wait, there's another adult “human” character in this game aside from King Candy? I thought it was just kids!) has alerted the authorities, and the two rogue video game characters have to escape. They manage to hide in a giant bottle of cola (Wreck-It Ralph, product placement subtlety is thy name... not!), which is a race track that has been removed from the final game, and thus it's also where Vanellope lives. Its got lava cola and Mentos stalactites (I guess Disney needed the money to rent the image of all those video game characters who have a cameo in the film...). Just take a wild guess how the volcano erupts.

Hint: The mentos.

"Careful not to hit me!" BAM.
Thankfully, Ralph can get plenty of physical damage, he was
practically MADE to survive getting hurt a lot!
Guess that's an adavntage of being a video game villain...
Ralph and Vanellope discuss and Ralph realizes they're not so different. After all, Vanellope also lives kinda like a hobo, isn't appreciated in her own game, hates her situation, and tries not to be too grim about it even if it sucks as bad as a kill screen. And her case is even worse; since she's a glitchy character, she can't escape the Sugar Rush game, and therefore she can't leave to Game Central Station. Ralph now decides to go all-out to help her. However, since Vanellope doesn't know how to drive (Ralph pretty much served as a makeshift accelerator during the chase scene), Ralph decides to turn Vanellope's volcano into a training racetrack. It takes a minute of cartoony antics, but then Vanellope turns out to do exceptionally well. She just gotta control her glitch.

You're still too slow to go against Sonic.

He's tampering with this world's code! Dude, that's mighty
dangerous! Imagine you create a MissingNo by accident!
During that time, King Candy hears that the pastry cops are looking everywhere, but donut find the two runaway characters anywhere (pun intended). At the speed of the éclair, King Candy heads at the back of his castle, where there's a locked room. He inputs the Konami Code – nice reference here – and enters... and it turns out the entire program behind Candy Crush is accessible there. Oops, did I say Candy Crush? What the Hell Level is wrong with me, I meant Sugar Rush! Am I even watching the same movie I'm watching right now? Anyway, Candy swims through the emptiness, tampers with the code (adding Ralph's medal on himself), and leaves... while we're treated to a shot of Vanellope's code alone in a corner, cut off from everything else...

PTSD in full force here...
Felix has been eyeing Sgt. Calhoun the entire trip leading to King Candy's castle. I think he may have fallen in love with her... Hey, hey, a romance is the last thing we need in this story! Isn't it already bloated with stories? However, when Felix calls her a “Dynamite gal” (something that works, considering she's got quite the temper, and also she would be considered drop-dead gorgeous by creepy teenage male gamers), Calhoun remembers all the moments she “spent” with her fiancé before he was eaten at the altar. Turns out that's exactly what he liked to call her, what a coincidence. She drops Felix at the castle and leaves, because this sudden rush of nonexistent memories troubled her. Darnedang, Calhoun is the video game character equivalent of Total Recall! Oh well, Felix still reaches the castle and knocks. Sour Bill, the King's underling, comes to open the door. Except, after a few words about Ralph, Bill activates a trap, the Welcome chocolate bar under Felix disappears and he falls in a dungeon. So, wait. Is King Candy a full-on villain now, or it's just Sour Bill doing awful stuff behind his master's back? I don't get it.

So, Ralph and Vanellope prepare for the race, but Vanellope goes back in the cola mountain to get something. King Candy comes by (how did he know Ralph was there?) and tries to reason with Ralph that Vanellope can't race. If she does, the players could see her glitching, and therefore Mr. Litwak would put the Out Of Order sign over Sugar Rush, and then their game would be in danger. And if Sugar Rush gets unplugged, everyone will be able to escape... Except Vanellope, due to her glitch. She'll die in the game once it gets unplugged. There is too much at stake there, and Candy claims he's doing all this for the good of Sugar Rush and everyone inside it. Oh, and he also gives back Ralph's medal. Candy's arguments make enough sense for Ralph, so the king leaves the place and lets Ralph do the rest.

No joke here. I can't.

Neither can I make a joke here. It's too heart-breaking.
Vanellope comes back with a little medal she made for Ralph. She happily gives it to him. One side is meh. The other says “You're My Hero”. Cue hundreds of people blowing their nose or wiping their eyes with tissues. Sadly, he's not gonna be her hero for long, 'cause Ralph then tries to talk her out of racing. Vanellope notices Ralph's medal hidden in his shirt, and goes berserk. Ralph tries to keep her down, but is ultimately forced to hang her to a nearby candy tree... and, with a facial expression that says nothing else than “I don't want to do this”, he wrecks Vanellope's kart. Totals it. The little girl glitches off from the tree and runs back to the cola mountain, crying.

Same here...
Not proud in the slightest of what he's done, Ralph goes back to the Fix-It Felix Jr. arcade cabinet, where almost everyone's gone... Ralph goes in the building, and no one's there, except Gene. Yes, Ralph has a medal, but his game isn't delivered from the threat of being unplugged and he made a little girl cry. Still, Gene hands Ralph a key. Well, he can still enjoy the Penthouse... for the very few hours remaining...

...and here...

Oh, I have to end it here for today... Tell you what. I'll be back Friday with the chilling conclusion. Is that good for you? Good! See ya in four days. I'll just.. gently weep in the meantime. Wreck-It Ralph, why must you make me so teary-eyed?