Ralph Breaks The Internet Review

The Plot

Best friends Ralph and Vanellope leave the comfortable confines of their video game worlds and set out to explore the internet when they need to urgently track down an important piece of arcade equipment. The pair discover the best and worst that this vast new digital world has to offer, forcing them to re-examine who they are and what their friendship really means to each other.

The Good

Sarah Silverman and John C. Reilly enthusiastically reprise their roles as squeaky voice racer Vanellope and kind hearted oaf Ralph. The genuine chemistry between them, crafted together in a recording studio, gave the first film its heart and serves the same function again in this unlikely sequel.

Alongside the returning voice cast the sequel also adds some star power form the voice of Wonder Woman herself Gal Gadot. The former model turned superheroine is a good fit for Shank, a friendly bad-ass racer who helps mentor Vanellope as she adjusts to the overwhelming possibilities of this new digital world.

In general the film wisely looks to expand its horizons beyond the fun but self-contained retro arcade setting of the first film. Turning the internet into a real world is an indisputably ambitious challenge and the filmmakers deserve credit just for attempting it. It provides plenty of opportunities for satirical humour fuelled by a steady stream of fun pop culture references.

It’s certainly interesting to see Ralph crash headlong into meme culture with his usual good intentioned calamity. Sarah Silverman also has particular fun with a tongue in cheek musical number that pokes fun at the film’s own Disney status.

The Bad

Trying to turn something as vast and abstract as the entire internet into a physical world for these characters to inhabit is a mammoth challenge for the filmmakers. It’s especially tough when you’re aiming for a young audience and the majority of our online world is actually most certainly not suitable for children. At times it does restrict how authentic this new world feels. Similarly whilst some brands and social media platforms were obviously eager to lend their product to the film, the film does occasionally have to fill the gaps by inventing obvious replacements. It will go blissfully unnoticed by a younger audience, but then that does bring up a slightly wider problem.

The original wreck it ralph film spoke to older audiences through its retro gaming themes and caught the imagination of younger fans with a simple story of friendship set against a colourful cartoonish backdrop.  It’s not quite clear who this film second film is more heavily aimed at. The film’s satirical stab at the internet should hopefully be less relatable to young children.

A very good example is how the film borrows the entire stable of Disney princesses but uses them mostly to offer up some heavy handed feminist themed self-critiques. It might be appreciated by millennial bloggers, but young girls who have watched Frozen a million times may be slightly confused what Elsa and Anna are doing so far from Arendelle.

At its core the first film was built around a simple story of self-acceptance and unlikely friendship, by contrast this sequel has comparatively less urgent comments to make about friendship maintenance. The problems feel a little more invented and there’s a clear lack of anything approaching a villain for our heroes to face.

The Ugly Truth

Ralph Breaks The Internet is a watchable follow up to what had seemed to be a very self-contained first adventure. Older audiences will enjoy the pop culture references while younger fans will get to enjoy more of the goofy antics of these playful 8bit heroes.

Review by Russell Nelson

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