Directed by Phil Johnston, Rich Moore. Starring John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk.
The Plot: Six years after the events of the first film, videogame characters Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are even better buddies than before. Ralph may still be a lug at times, but he always has the best interests of his friend at heart. When Vanellope’s racing game Sugar Rush is broken, she finds herself without a job. A rare machine part is required, which can only be found on the internet. With a wi-fi router installed in the arcade, the duo head into the wild world of the internet for the first time. That’s where they encounter supercool racer Shank (Gal Gadot), whose car they need to buy the machine part. As they go tumbling down the rabbit hole, the strength of their friendship is really put to the test…
The Verdict: Wreck-It-Ralph was one of Disney’s most purely enjoyable non-Pixar animated films. Entertaining for kids, nostalgic for their video arcade-era parents, it was stuffed with sight gags and blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em references to a whole host of videogame characters. There’s a long development and production period involved with animation, but the six-year wait has been well worth it. Ralph and Vanellope are back with their new online-based outing, Ralph Breaks The Internet. In true Ralph style, the loveable lug quite literally does that. Before that though, there’s a breakneck adventure to save Vanellope’s game and give her purpose. In true Disney style though, it’s a film about the power of friendship and how it can – and needs to – change over time along with the characters.
Without that core heart to it, the script would just be an eye candy overload waiting to crash to a blue screen of death. With five credited writers on this film, it could very well have headed that way. However, they manage to steer our dynamic duo through various pitfalls, traps and error 404s to keep them on the racing track. As any proper sequel needs to do, it develops the characters along the way so that they change but still essentially retain their individuality. Ralph realises that his apparently harmless behaviour can have consequences, while Vanellope comes to realise that she needs to strike out on her own too. The only real miss-step here is a late third act rush to go bigger rather than re-focus and wrap up at the appropriate moment. It’s forgivable though and only causes ripples in the story rather than waves.
As with the first film, the sequel is a visual feast for the eyes. The wacky world of the internet is amusingly rendered in gorgeous detail by co-directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore. It’s a fully realised environment unto itself where there’s a Search Bar (ha-ha), annoying pop-up ads and with Disney’s acquisitions of a certain space opera and superhero studio, lots more to enjoy for the eagle-eyed (including Stan Lee, who recently flew away to superhero heaven). There’s so much to take in here that repeat viewings will be required. The most enjoyable sequence involves Vanellope getting in touch with her inner princess when she finds herself having some quality girl time with other Disney Princesses. It’s hilarious and pokes gentle fun at Disney’s heritage. There’s even time for a musical number in a gritty racing video game, a daring move which works a treat.
Ralph Breaks The Internet is a film full of imagination and self-knowing satire. You can sense that the animators in Disney’s animation arm were allowed to import some of that anarchic Pixar humour and personality while keeping the film’s heart in the right place. That also extends to the delightful end credits, which are worth waiting for. There’s no weak wi-fi ending up in a facepalm for our characters and the filmmakers. There’s a strong signal here which makes this a joyful treat with lots of lolz for children and adults alike. More films like this please, Disney.