D23 Expo: Disney Screens the Start of Wreck-It Ralph

Today at the the D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA, the Walt Disney Company screened a preview of their upcoming animated feature Wreck-It Ralph. The comedy is about what happens to video game characters after the arcade closes.

What was shown was a “story reel” of the first four-and-a-half minutes of the film. Not complete by any means, it featured a combination of fully animated scenes, partly animated scenes and storyboards with full voice acting.

The story begins as an 8-bit style video game intro with the titular Ralph (played by John C. Reilly), explaining that he’s the villain for the Donkey Kong-esque game “Fix-It Felix Jr.” Ralph is over nine feet tall, weighs over six hundred pounds and “can’t walk down the street without causing major structural damage to a building.” Ralph explains that while he’s the “bad guy” of the game, he doesn’t perform his job with any malice. In fact, he’s a pretty good guy at heart. He just so happens to sleep in a garbage dump with crushed bricks as his mattress and a tree stump as his pillow.

The other denizens of his video game shun him, though, and this makes him feel incredibly lonely. He attends a regular Bad Guys Anonymous group, lead by one of the ghosts from Pac-Man, where he and other villains talk about their feelings about their roles in their games. References to games were snuck in everywhere in this bit. Aside from the Pac-Man ghost, you could spot an analogue for BioShock’s Big Daddy, Coiley from Q*bert, and even Mortal Kombat’s Kano (who rips out someone’s heart to help prove a point). To help Ralph feel better about his lot in life, an axe-wielding zombie dispenses advice about accepting himself for who he is. The meeting wraps up with the recitation of a credo about how even though they are bad guys they are not bad guys, and that “there’s no one I’d rather be than me!” This does not seem to make Ralph feel better.

The clip ended, and the movie’s director Rich Moore was introduced. Moore explained that the movie is about Ralph’s search to find a game where he can fit in. To do this, he goes to Game Central Station, the transportation hub of the arcade, to try out new worlds. The first he tries is the Halo homage “Hero’s Duty,” where he’s lead by the tough as names Sgt. Calhoun, played by Jane Lynch. Moore then showed a behind-the-scenes video of Lynch giving a rallying speech.

The next game that Ralph tries is a cart racer called “Sugar Rush,” which is a world full of desserts. Moore hinted that this is where the main plot will take place, as “Sugar Rush” apparently is hiding something that could ruin the entire arcade.

Moore then brought out two members of the voice cast. The first was Jack McBrayer, who plays Ralph’s nemesis Felix. The second was comedian Sarah Silverman who plays a character from “Sugar Rush” named Vanellope Von Schweetz.

Silverman was asked what it was like to be at D23.

“I always wanted to go to Anaheim but not go to Disneyland!” she quipped.

McBrayer was asked what it was like to provide a voice for the film.

“My own voice irritates even myself, but doing it for other people is awesome!” he said.

The final question posed to Silverman was how she felt about Disney and Pixar movies.

“I have a love/hate relationship with Disney movies. I hate how the make me feel!” she joked. “Then I’m glad I saw it and felt those feelings. It’s hard – I have a tiny heart!”

Wreck-It Ralph is due out on November 2, 2012.

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