Disney Blu-ray Roundup: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ storms into the world of HD
A problem I’ve brought up before with these DVD and Blu-ray reviews of Disney films sadly recurs with their big new Blu-ray release, Wreck-It Ralph. If you buy the biggest possible combo pack, you’ll get four discs—the 3D Blu-ray disc, a regular Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a digital copy—and only six special features, all housed on the 2D Blu-ray disc. Though Disney’s most recent animated effort, set in the world of video games at a local arcade, didn’t make as much money in the theaters as Tangled did, it’s gotten a huge wave of critical and fan support. So why didn’t Disney spring for some substantial behind-the-scenes material? If you fell hard for the film, you’ll be glad to own the movie, no matter what, but a more detailed look at its creation would’ve been welcome for any fan or completist.
The story of a Donkey Kong-esque bad guy trying to prove he’s not all villain on the inside, Wreck-It Ralph is bright, colorful, manic, and more than a bit derivative. (I am aware that this is a minority opinion, but revisiting the film via Blu-ray didn’t warm the cockles of my black heart any more than seeing it in theaters did. The basic premise still is too flimsy to make much sense, and most of the subplots feel awfully familiar.) Leaving aside a debate of quality—and if you’d like to hear me go on about how much this movie’s twists bothered me, I’ll point you to our podcast from November—there’s no question that Wreck-It Ralph has translated to Blu-ray very, very well. Those bright colors pop on HDTV, and every setting, from the low-tech feel of the world of Fix It Felix, Jr. to the gritty, grim universe of Hero’s Duty, culminating in the explosion of color known as Sugar Rush, stands out. There’s no doubt that if you love this movie, you’re going to love the Blu-ray. Disney isn’t known for getting the actual release wrong when they deliver an HD product.
Where they do go wrong is in the supplements. Again, here’s a movie that did reasonably well at the box office, got strong critical praise, and a general consensus that it was one of Disney’s best animated films in a while. (Two points: that’s not saying much considering most of their output in the 2000s, and…well, refer to my parenthetical in the previous paragraph.) The film was released in theaters in 3D, so it makes sense that the Blu-ray release would have a 3D component. But why not overload this thing full of special features? The only way you could say those features on the Blu-ray disc even last more than an hour would be if you watched one of them with and without the included commentary. If all you want is the movie, the Wreck-It Ralph Blu-ray won’t disappoint you. But if you want to know how that sausage got made, you’ll be let down.
It’s not that there are no special features here, just a woeful few. (And here, I am being generous by including, as a special feature, 10 minutes of assorted sneak previews for other Disney films and TV shows.) The most important supplement, something most people agreed was as good as, if not better than, Wreck-It Ralph itself is newly minted Oscar winner Paperman. This six-minute short, directed by John Kahrs, is a lovely mix of 2D and computer animation. The story is simple enough—boy meets girl, boy pursues girl…via paper airplanes—but the execution is superb as is the animation style. Just as Paperman was worth the price of a movie ticket to see Wreck-It Ralph, it’s worth the price of the Blu-ray to own this swooning, sweet little gem. Another seemingly tossed-off, yet disarming, feature is the Disney Intermission. If you pause during the film, you’ll see Chris Hardwick, from the Nerdist podcast and the AMC talk show Talking Dead, give you some hints about Easter eggs in the film related to video games and, sometimes, Disney. It’s fairly slight, but fun.
In terms of Wreck-It Ralph’s production, there are a handful of deleted scenes that provide insight into how animated movies often get revised extensively. If you watch these scenes, you’ll see a glimpse of what the second act could’ve been, something of a buddy picture with Ralph and Felix, not just Ralph and the obnoxious little Vanellope from Sugar Rush. Rich Moore’s commentary track—he’s joined by fellow writers Jim Reardon and Phil Johnston—explains where their thought process was, as well as why elements like a clearly Matthew McConaughey-inspired video-game character got nixed. That plus a 17-minute behind-the-scenes featurette about creating the multiple video-game worlds in the film constitute the entirety of Wreck-It Ralph’s making. Those deleted scenes, though, prove Wreck-It Ralph as we know it is vastly different from its initial creation. Why not throw us a full film commentary, Disney? The more insight, the better.
For some people, all that will matter is the ability to own Disney’s newest animated feature on home media. To those folks, fear not: Wreck-It Ralph will make a fine addition to your Blu-ray collection. If you’re in the mood for something more in-depth, you’ll find a bit of material to quench your thirst, specifically in those deleted and alternate scenes, with or without the filmmaker commentary. But for a movie that was so beloved upon its release, a movie that people are now saying was robbed at the Oscars, there’s not much in this 4-disc release to make you think Disney’s aware of the passionate fanbase. Wreck-It Ralph, even in the mind of this non-fan of the film, deserved a bit better from the House of Mouse.