Ralph Breaks the Internet Review
Wreck-It Ralph Goes Viral
Ralph gets an upgrade, taking his signature mayhem viral as he unleashes a chaotic assault on the internet. But can he bring the magic of the first film with him too?More than just a nostalgic nod at arcade games of old - or a colourful video-game-style actioner for the young - Disney's 2012 feature Wreck-It Ralph was, at its core, a heartfelt tale of alienation and acceptance of differences. Its countless Ready Player One-esque tributes for the older generations were matched only by a seemingly boundless ingenuity towards the imaginative video game worlds it traversed, bringing shoot-em' ups, arcade racers, and platform button-bashing to vibrant life.
Six years later and Ralph - and Disney - clearly have a bit of technological catching-up to do, trading the arcade, and even the more modern Halo-esque shooters for the limitless arena of the World Wide Web; seeing Ralph and his unlikely best friend, racing girl Vanellope von Schweetz, forced to journey into the great unknown and scour the internet for the key to saving the racing game in which Vanellope lives.
There's plenty to enjoy here, young or old.
Ralph Breaks the Internet spends a little time introducing us to these characters again, but has a wide-eyed voyage to the internet, playfully nodding towards everything from Google to Search Engines - sending up the silly things you can bid for on eBay, before getting down to serious business when Ralph and Vanellope realise that they need to make a lot of cash if they want to fix the game. Cue a trip to the world of viral videos, and a look at the weird and not-so-wonderful things that we click our lives away watching.
The message here isn't quite as clear as first time around, with the sequel testing the boundaries of friendship, looking at the darker side of not wanting to let somebody go, and - perhaps more subtly - playing out a tender parent-child relationship (as opposed to the ostensibly friends that the two lead characters are) which goes through a rough patch as the child sees a future different from what the parent planned.
What is clear is just what a dark place the Internet can be, and just what it brings out of otherwise seemingly nice and inherently well-meaning individuals - from the vicious, devastating comments that keyboard cowboys deliver to 'virtually' take down their prey, just for kicks, to the lengths that individuals are prepared to go to in order to get what they want, losing sight of everything to drive them towards a blinkered goal.
It doesn't quite have the magic of the first film.
John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are back in the lead roles, captivating even years down the line, but there's some serious magic in some of the guest roles - Wonder Woman's Gal Gadot is great as the street racer in an online game which is some mad cross between Fast and Furious, Death Race and the open world mayhem of Grand Theft Auto; and Alan Tudyk (who has played a voice role in every Disney production since the first Wreck-It Ralph) plays a hilarious search engine come to life - and then there's the extended Disney princess sequences, which see the Studio happily sending up some of its longest-running staples, like the notion of women always needing big strong men to come and rescue them, and the way staring at yourself in water will make you break into song.
For younger kids, it's as vibrantly colourful and action-packed as you would hope - captivating throughout - and, as you'd only expect, there's more than enough for older viewers to enjoy, from the countless references to the playful (and not so playful) nod towards apps, collector's items, trending videos and just about everything else we have inexplicably fallen in love with. It still doesn't quite have the magic of the first film, losing focus somewhat when it is forced to contend with the wild, open-world realm of the Internet (compared with the relatively confined realms of the arcade games), but there's plenty to enjoy here, young or old.
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