If I could get another sequel to this one in less than six years that’d be great!
Actually taking place a full six years after the first Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph Breaks the Internet sees our titular bad guy turned hero, Ralph (John C. Reilly), and bff, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), still kicking it together after hours in Litwak’s Family Fun Center and Arcade once their gaming duties are done for the day. Ralph is absolutely over the moon with his life now that he’s broken free of his bad guy image, while Vanellope longs for more than the same repetitiveness that she’s been living through for the past few years, so, after an unfortunate accident leaves Vanellope’s racing game unusable and possibly unfixable, Ralph takes it upon himself to bring them to the Internet in order to find a rare part to fix Vanellope’s game, thus saving her and her game from being unplugged forever. But when they arrive, the Internet is much more intense and vast than they could have ever expected, and suddenly finding and acquiring the part needed to finish their mission becomes that much harder to complete. Memes and viral videos ensue, and before they know it, Ralph and Vanellope are thrown across the World Wide Web in a whirlwind of data and pop-up ads that might be just too much for them to handle.
Man, I love me some Wreck-It Ralph! The original film was hands down my favorite animated film that came out in 2012 and continues to be one of my favorite Disney Animation films of all time, so when this sequel was finally announced, I was stoked to say the least. Now, after getting a chance to see it, I have to say that much like my recent Creed II review, it’s not as good as the first, but still a competent sequel that does much more good than bad.
Coming so long after the original, Ralph Breaks the Internet had a lot of catching up to do, not only for these characters, but also for the very content it explores. Choosing to focus more squarely on Ralph and Vanellope’s plight as well as the handful of new characters in the form of Shank (Gal Gadot), a racer in the online game called Slaughter Race, and Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), an algorithm for determining viral videos on the site BuzzTube, the script takes our protagonists to the far reaches of the Internet and back, hitting every website, social media platform, meme, viral video, online game and Internet shenanigan in between. And it’s here that the filmmakers clearly are having a good time. From an actual tree of birds symbolizing Tweets on Twitter, to the entire auction idea of Ebay taking center stage plot-wise, the gags and jokes and visual representations of the things we look at and use on the Internet everyday is just plain fun to watch. And that’s saying nothing about the amazing scene where Vanellope visits a Disney website, which is hands down the best scene in the entire film, but that’s a treat that needs to be seen more than read, so I’ll leave it at that.
But not everything has to do with the Internet, so when we’re introduced to an online game called Slaughter Race, the real meat of the story kicks in. Whereas the first Wreck-It Ralph focused more so on Ralph’s quest to become a hero and shed his bad guy visage with Vanellope’s gaming problems taking a close second, this sequel flips it a bit to focus more on Vanellope’s hang-ups with being stuck in an arcade game with it’s non-stop repetitiveness, while Ralph’s storyline comes up just behind hers. Tackling the story in this way allows the film to distance itself from the original in terms of how similar they are, while at the same time giving each character their own distinct set of goals without running the chance of rehashing what has come before. It works, but not as well as the original unfortunately.
When it comes to the look of the film, I don’t think even Pixar could compete with the sheer quality of what is presented here. One perfect example of how far the computer graphics have come since the original six years ago is apparent in the new character Shank. Being purposely more realistic in her rendering, the attention to detail in her leather jacket, the animation of her hair, the subtle twitches and looks in her face all add up to a kind of visual sheen that is just unheard of in other film of the same ilk. Couple that with a finale that really pushes the boundaries as to how many moving parts can be onscreen at once, and you have a beautifully designed and shot film with enough of a visual flair to set it apart from your usual run-of-the-mill CGI film.
If I had any complaints with this one, they’d mostly stem from the fact that I wanted more. More cameos, more fun jabs and visual gags about the Internet, more world building, etc. It’s one of the only issues I had with the first film wherein all the cameos and interesting takes on the world of video games lost some steam by the time we hit the midway point, and it’s much the same here. I love all the ideas the filmmakers have come up with when it comes to fully realizing what the Internet would look like visually, but I was also left longing for a more in depth look at it all. Don’t get me wrong, what is presented here most definitely suffices, but for what I was expecting and what was actually given, I was left slightly wanting. Other than that, there are a few story beats that just simply didn’t work for me and the emotional weight, while still front and center, didn’t hit me quite as hard as the first film. Still great stuff, just not as…intense let’s say.
Not as good as the first but still a solid sequel all around, Ralph Breaks the Internet is pure entertainment fun with it’s usual heart and humor in full swing at nearly every turn. While I think there were a few missed opportunities when it comes to the idea of Ralph going to the internet to begin with, and a few nitpicks about the final “battle”, there’s just so much to this film that’s worth seeing that it’s hard to knock the final product as anything but an entertaining romp through the digital world. You’ll laugh, (possibly) cry, and you’ll most definitely enjoy yourself through and through, so if you’re even remotely a fan of the first film or just want to see an intriguing version of what the Internet might actually be like if it were “real”, this is the film for you. Oh, and finally seeing all of those Disney Princesses in glorious computer graphics was just icing on the cake. More of that, please!