Courtesy of Disney
When “Wreck it Ralph” was unleashed, it visualized how arcade games work and operate. A creative flair that took us on a glossy journey with the lovable Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) as he discovered there was more to life than just wrecking things. From Sonic the Hedgehog and Quebert - the subtle humor and jabs at other prominent video game properties made “Ralph” hard to resist.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” has more at its disposal this time around. Considering, in 2012, Disney had bought Marvel and Star Wars, and the internet wasn’t as necessary as it is today, this sequel has plenty to explore in it’s coda. And the filmmakers don’t waste time addressing their visual aesthetics with a gorgeous new landscape that rivals some of Disney’s best work.
If you remember, the end of “Wreck it Ralph” revealed how sarcastic Sugar Rush racer Vanellope von Schweetz was the game’s princess, marking is as one of the more offbeat origin stories in the Disney canon. Of course, Vanellope isn’t Ariel, Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty, but she’s got the Disney Princess DNA running though her, and “Ralph Breaks The Internet,” smartly, turns its attention to her. Voiced by Sarah Silverman, Vanellope is able to continue onto a path she knows awaits her. The story will seem familiar to anyone who's seen a Disney movie, but at least we have a loving relationship with her pal Ralph, some terrific meta humor, and a solid message about friendship to plow us through.
While the first “Ralph” centered on Ralph’s moral code regarding his place in the arcade world, and we saw his transition from hero to villain - “Ralph Breaks The Internet” allows Vanellope to lunge for the next big step. Directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore bring the same creative spirit (and ideals) they so vividly used to create the magical arcade world prior. Except now it’s been upgraded to the vast scope of the Internet. Together, the pair seek out their most ambitious project to date - at least in terms of contextualizing WIFI, something we as humans use everyday.
“Internet” picks up after the events of the first entry, Ralph has embraced his purpose because he now gets to wreck things alongside his best friend. Still, Vanellope is yearning for something fresh and different (even if it’s just a new track to manifest in her Sugar Rush video game). When a broken game threatens her entire existence, the duo must travel outside their comfort zone and delve into the internet. Taking shape as a metropolis New York City locale, Ralph and Vanellope get sucked into the world - on a mission to track down a steering wheel for a smashed-up Sugar Rush game. While that narrative component is loosely written (it feels silly that’s the only reason these two would travel to the internet) - it bolsters Vanellope’s desire to find her true identity.
Yet, this is a creative extension of “Ralph,” which brought forth a world filled with arcade characters, from their daily agenda of smashing bricks or churning out kegs of Root Beer at steady rates, Moore and Johnson imagine the web as a hypercaffeinated utopia where individual icons trundle around visiting buildings that contain their destinations. eBay is seen as a massive auction floor, Twitter is a forest with little blue birds chirping thousands of tweets per second, and there's the video sharing platform BuzzTube filled with people begging for likes (using literal hearts).
It’s engaging and hilarious, and Moore and Johnston unload terrific interpretations of comment sections, spam, and pop-ups . Every frame of this film has thousands of easter eggs that will require multiple views to catch them all. The only time the film begins to slug is when Vanellope and Ralph become entangled in a racing game entitled Slaughter Race. Headed by the Gal Gadot-voiced Shank, the second-rate game offers Vanellope the chance to escape her daily routine. Sure, It’s an important arch on the path for Vanellope’s inner destiny, but the initial scenes involving this location slows down the action. Whereas the constant pace and stream of the internet landscape gives “Ralph Breaks The Internet” its beating pulse.
Regardless, this film has a wicked sense of humor about itself and the characters Disney owns. One scene involves the entire princess catalog (from Jasmine, Mulan and even Moana) complaining about how their only seen as damsels who need to be rescued. It’s a nifty use of cross-promotion, which utilizes the entire OhMyDisney.com as a virtual hotspot. Featuring Iron-Man, Stormtroopers, and much more.
Virtually, “Ralph Breaks The Internet” is a welcome return for Disney’s most unlikely band of misfits, but the style, tone, and creative components all breath life into this turbo charged satire that knows never to take itself too seriously.