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Wreck-It Ralph
Composed and Produced by:
Henry Jackman

Conducted by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Orchestrated by:
Stephen Coleman
Andrew Kinney
Dave Metzger
John Ashton Thomas
Larry Rench

Additional Music by:
Dominic Lewis
Matthew Margeson

Walt Disney Records

Release Date:
October 30th, 2012

Also See:
Monsters vs. Aliens
Puss in Boots

Audio Clips:
7. Wreck-It Ralph (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

10. Rocket Fiasco (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

22. Out of the Penthouse, Off to the Race (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

25. Arcade Finale (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.


Wreck-It Ralph
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Buy it... if you appreciate really smart children's scores, this one exhibiting vintage arcade tones with symphonic and choral action up to the standards of Henry Jackman's prior work in the genre.

Avoid it... if you wish to never again be reminded of the hours you wasted in arcades during the 1980's, for the incorporation of those games' music into a modern film score is quite frightening and practically intolerable in parts.

Wreck-It Ralph: (Henry Jackman) Rarely does a concept take 25 years to finally work its way through production hell to reach the big screen, but that's what happened with Wreck-It Ralph at Disney. It had labored through several incarnations and required extensive licensing with famous video game rights owners to complete as envisioned, but the movie was ironically finished ahead of schedule and thus released in 2012 rather than a year later. The concept is a novel one, earning respect from critics for tackling the fresh subject of arcade video game characters and their relationships with each other after all the kids (and loser adult males) playing the arcade attractions go home each night. The characters from these games travel in between each others' realms, creating interpersonal melodrama and causing mishaps in the programming of the games' software. When the villain, Wreck-It Ralph, of one game tires of being the badguy, he escapes to other games in search of becoming a hero, inadvertently unleashing a bug across the arcade. His race to save the other games and gain acceptance in his own occupies the film and sets the stage for possible sequels. The most difficult part of producing Wreck-It Ralph, not surprisingly, was the licensing of famous real-life arcade characters of the 1980's generation for cameos in the film, and some were dropped due to cost. Loyalty to that era is key to the success of Wreck-It Ralph, and this fact was certainly not lost on composer Henry Jackman. Among the most classically-gifted assistants to emerge from Hans Zimmer's production house in the late 2000's, Jackman has emphasized action more often than not in his early career, alternating between the adventure of children's films and the straight, contemporary excitement of adult topics. From Monsters vs. Aliens in 2009 to Puss in Boots in 2011, his ability to combine disparate genres to meet the needs of modern children's crossover films has not gone unnoticed. Without a doubt, Wreck-It Ralph represented one of Jackman's most challenging solo assignments to date, requiring that he study and incorporate 1980's arcade musical personalities into an otherwise standard orchestral and choral adventure outing.

Jackman's applications of the vintage arcade elements clearly dominate the resulting score for Wreck-It Ralph, adding both exhilarating pizzazz and obnoxious nostalgia to music that sounds in many places similar to his prior major children's work and, at times, other Remote Control-related ventures by his peers. With this procedural approach in mind, you have to admire Jackman's output for Wreck-It Ralph. It's difficult to functionally layer the 1980's arcade samples with the orchestral material and pass thematic representations between both sides of the mix. The pure enthusiasm factor in this score can't be ignored, and the composer balances his brightly optimistic heroism with a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek fun. At the same time, Wreck-It Ralph is the kind of score that could drive a listener to insanity because of these same elements, especially when the 1980's personality dominates. Stylistically, the music traverses a very wide swath, entering parody territory at times, and the overall impact will be tiring for those not accustomed to appreciating this kind of effort apart from the film. The score moves like a frantic stream-of-consciousness kind of work, so this review will tag along with it for its major cues. Jackman opens with a softer, light rock theme that exists somewhere in between Basil Poledouris' Wind and a contemporary Naoki Sato drama work. In the subsequent "Life in the Arcade," the composer unleashes the most faithful, source-like 1980's arcade material, a frightful reminder of wasted hours past. As the action picks up in the next few cues, some influences begin to emerge; at about 3:40 into "Rocket Fiasco," Jackman very explicitly revisits vintage Zimmer music, namely The Rock. This material yields to immensely irritating parodies in "Royal Raceway" that literally alternate between stuffy royal tones and rocking arcade theatrics. The themes take a while to establish themselves in memory, and the main descending melody of villainy is cemented by its organ performance at the start of "Cupcake Breakout." The parody material returns in "Laffy Taffies," which touches upon both John Powell and Danny Elfman techniques, the latter's Wonka-related "la-la" vocals closing out the cue. Powell collectors may, as in Jackman's previous works for children's films, hear similarities in the style of the composers' orchestral flourishes.

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In two cues for Wreck-It Ralph, Jackman seemingly synchs his score with the choppy structures of the popular car-related Rihanna song "Shut Up and Drive" (included on the album), the first of these throwing an arcade-laced instrumental variation of this song up against vintage game show jazz in "One Minute to Win It." The opening of "Vanellope's Hideout" returns to the soft theme from the score's start, and a similar treatment is heard early in "Out of the Penthouse, Off to the Race" (with more Saito-like sensibilities in the latter). The end of "Messing With the Program" features a great crescendo that masterfully balances the orchestra, choir, and arcade elements. A longer crescendo for violins in the middle of "King Candy" uses the main, descending phrase as counterpoint in the middle, a nice touch. This theme becomes more pronounced, albeit remorsefully, in "Broken-Karted." The last minute returns to the awkward royal arcade material, complete with a short reprise of the "Shut Up and Drive" references. Jackman saves most of his best action material for the final two orchestral cues; "Sugar Rush Showdown" especially combines the ensemble with the arcade's rhythmic loops quite well, and the main theme gets a healthy workout at the end as well. Bursts of awe in "You're My Hero" lead up to a snippet of smirk-inducing, Craig Armstrong-like choral melodrama at 2:35 before the big villain theme on organ is forced to translate into a brassy heroic performance to close out the scene. The soft rock character material from the start of the score returns pleasantly one last time in "Arcade Finale" before launching into a wretchedly hip version of the arcade tones. At least Jackman does allow the orchestra to sentimentally take the final moments to a quietly sappy close. Overall, this wild ride is amusing and entertaining in its parts but difficult to qualify in its whole because the wacky instrumentation really does dominate the structures. You don't leave the score with a clear picture of Jackman's thematic intentions; while the representations exit, they are muddied by the fast pace and inconsistent instrumental colors. As mentioned before, this score is admirably smart enough to earn four stars, but when heard on album, its ultra-frenetic personality and surprisingly elusive themes, along with the mostly original but unrelated and irritating songs (several of which meant for the end credits), pull Wreck-It Ralph back to three-star reality. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: ****
    Music as Heard on Album: ***
    Overall: ***

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.98 Stars
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 70:47

• 1. When Can I See You Again? - performed by Owl City (3:38)
• 2. Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph - performed by Buckner & Garcia (2:59)
• 3. Celebration - performed by Kool & The Gang (3:40)
• 4. Sugar Rush - performed by AKB48 (3:14)
• 5. Bug Hunt (Noisa Remix) - performed by Skrillex (7:04)
• 6. Shut Up and Drive - performed by Rihanna (3:32)
• 7. Wreck-It Ralph (1:33)
• 8. Life in the Arcade (0:43)
• 9. Jumping Ship (1:06)
• 10. Rocket Fiasco (5:48)
• 11. Vanellope Von Schweetz (2:57)
• 12. Royal Raceway (3:23)
• 13. Cupcake Breakout (1:12)
• 14. Candy Vandals (1:39)
• 15. Turbo Flashback (1:42)
• 16. Laffy Taffies (1:35)
• 17. One Minute to Win It (1:17)
• 18. Vanellope's Hideout (2:33)
• 19. Messing with the Program (1:20)
• 20. King Candy (2:11)
• 21. Broken-Karted (2:49)
• 22. Out of the Penthouse, Off to the Race (2:51)
• 23. Sugar Rush Showdown (4:15)
• 24. You're My Hero (4:15)
• 25. Arcade Finale (3:19)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes lyrics for the first two songs and a list of performers but no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Wreck-It Ralph are Copyright © 2012, Walt Disney Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/10/12 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.