Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Review

Since the success of Disney’s Maleficent (dir. Robert Stromberg, 2014) and the live-action Cinderella (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 2015),the company has seemed to move away from what used to be the primary basis of their corporation – to make animated features for the whole family to enjoy. 2016’s Moana (dir. Ron Clements and John Musker) is to date the last animated feature the ‘Mouse House’ has produced, with primary focus now being placed upon the recreation of their classical properties, but now with modern Hollywood talent in the iconic roles. 2019 alone will see the release of three live-action remakes (Dumbo, Aladdin andThe Lion King), while Disney’s remake of Mulan is set to hit cinemas in early 2020.

With all these recognised properties returning to the silver screen, some audience members (myself included) have hoped that the studio would still deliver on original animated content in between the live-action fare. Sadly this seems not to be the case, or at least not when it comes to original animated features. As it appears that Disney’s other primary goal is to simply create sequels to its already popular classics, with Frozen 2 supposedly entering production as I write this review. But today I am here to discuss a different Disney sequel, this being Ralph Breaks the Internet, the follow-up to 2012’s Wreck it Ralph (dir. Rich Moore).

Set six years after the events of the previous film, Ralph and best friend Vanellope have found themselves falling into an everyday routine. One that begins to frustrate the adventurous and free spirited candy princess. Admittedly the first five minutes of this film are similar to a warm hug, with all of the familiar characters and locations reminding you of the high quality of the first film. However all of this is eventually torn apart when Vanellope’s game, Sugar Rush, is left broken and unplugged, leaving her and the other candy racers without a home and gameless.

What follows is a basic quest narrative, with Ralph and Vanellope descending into the arcade’s Wi-Fi in the hope of saving Sugar Rush from permanent closure.

It is in the internet that we see the best material that this film has to offer, with the same imaginative imagery that was applied to the world of video games in the first film being utilised again here. However the blatant product placement of various internet companies does leave the film with a stale and lifeless tone, with some of the jokes made at the expense of the internet properties being so obvious that they lose any scrap of humour. It is in the internet that we are also introduced to a new cast of quirky characters, some of which will remain on your mind for hours after the screen has faded to black. The most memorable of these characters being Taraji P. Henson’s Yesss and Gal Gadot’s Shank, two characters who are beautifully portrayed and realised by both their performances and the talent of the film’s animators. The pantheon of Disney Princesses also make a short appearance in the movie, demonstrating why these young women remain to be the most recognised members of the Disney family. It is also heart-warming to once again hear the princesses being voiced by their original voice actors, each one returning to the role that has helped define their careers.

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However, there is one element of this movie that is not enjoyable or likeable in the slightest and sadly that is our title character, Ralph. In the first film, Ralph’s character arc was neatly entwined with his role as a villain and how he no longer wanted to be branded as ‘the bad guy’, something he was able to do through his heroism and friendship with Vanellope. Sadly it appears that that friendship has morphed into something of an obsession, with Ralph citing the candy princess as his own personal property, even willing to selfishly destroy the internet in the hope of having her remain in his life. Sadly there is very little that redeems his character, as it appears that any growth he may have obtained from the first film has been replaced with immaturity and neediness.

Overall the film is able to deliver on the fundamental elements any audience may expect from a Wreck it Ralph sequel, but I do wish that we had received an original feature in place of this. Especially when learning that this film took the place of Disney’s next original project Gigantic, which would have been a traditional animated musical based on the fairy tale of Jack and The Beanstalk. But instead we received a sequel that no one truly wanted and that no one will truly remember. In the end, Ralph may not have broken the internet, but he did break my spirit and oh boy did it hurt.

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