I was very fortunate to attend a special pre-screening of this movie thanks to my friend Adam! It was well worth it, as you'll see in the review.
The plot is simple - in the first half-hour or so, the film gushes in building up the arcade world and its inhabitants. You've seen the trailer, so you know the basic plotline of this first third of the movie: Ralph is unsatisfied with bad-guy life, he explores more games to find out what's out there, and finds a way to be accepted.
Even though the plot is simple at times, there are plenty of laughs and a few clever twists that keep the film interesting at all times. There may be some disappointed with the lack of cameos in the film, but there are still tons upon tons, most of which most people will not gather in the first viewing, particularly if you don't know the games of the era. Even still, the film does not pander to the gaming audience so much that there is a joke at famous games' expense every few minutes. No, that would make for a much different feeling movie likely made by another company. Instead, Wreck-It Ralph chooses to stick to its Disney roots after the main plot kicks into gear, a choice that is by all means the correct one.
Would it have been fun to see more game-jumping? Sure, but not at the expense of the characters and their stories. Speaking of which...
You may have expected a soundtrack full of chiptunes and repetitive beats, but arcades and video games have fully advanced since then. Hero's Duty, one of the fictional games, has a fairly fitting dubstep song in particular. I was never annoyed with the music, and though it wasn't the most memorable of Disney's soundtracks, it was very good.
The main characters are all enjoyable, though some may feel that Vanellope (the little girl) grates a bit. For a 9-year old, this isn't so bad. Even though I did find her annoying at times, she is still a very strong foil to Ralph and without her, the movie would not have been nearly as interesting. Ralph himself is deadpan and fun, as well as given opportunities to revel in what he does best - wreck it! The film never falters on the main "programming" of its game heroes. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Sgt. Calhoun and Fix-It Felix. These two add dimension to the film and have their own unique stories, some moments of which are the best of the movie. In the end, they are all endearing and you'll be cheering for them. The primary villain of the movie is a treat as well, but experiencing him is for when you're in your theater seats. Many a gamer will love the references that he goes through.
The cameo appearances are fantastic, of course. Ken and Ryu have nice banter early on, and everyone's seen the "Bad-Anon" scene. Zangief isn't voiced by his VA in Street Fighter IV, but the rest of the characters that appear are, and that goes a long way into how Disney got the rights and times of all of these people to create such an enjoyable experience.
There aren't too many other fleshed-out characters in the film, but the rest of the citizens of the arcade are fun and wonderfully animated and voiced.
This movie does what Disney does best - makes you feel good - while in the creative and familiar setting of an arcade. That is no less than a winning formula. The characters are fun, the movie moves along smoothly, and oh yes, paperman, the short film before the movie proper, is a real treat that must be seen.
Disney gets it right again, but this time, with combos and quarters galore.