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Ralph Breaks The Internet
Jack Bottomley, Media Correspondent
Walt Disney Animation Studios and their animated classics range has, over the course of the last century, faced trouble, enjoyed various golden ages and acquired some magical success but with their mastery of the CG animation technique in the last 10 years, the studio has enjoyed a run of sizeable box office hits (Moana, Frozen, Zootropolis). So, naturally, this being the modern day Hollywood thought process, we are seeing what was once a rarity become a constant – we are seeing sequels.

Aside from The Rescuers Down Under way back in 1990, it was rare to see a cinema-released sequel from Disney Animation (home video however was littered with them) but with this years hotly anticipated Frozen 2 and other sequels being reportedly considered, we may be seeing them far more often and Ralph Breaks The Internet is the first in an undoubtedly long line to come.

Following up the fun 2013 arcade homage Wreck-It-Ralph, this sequel looks to go bigger in its pop cultural outlook, as friends Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanelope (Sarah Silverman) hang out on a daily basis, when they are not hard at work in their own gaming worlds. Ralph is content with his lot in life but Vanelope is beginning to want more variety, sadly this leads to chaos as her game ‘Sugar Rush’ gets inadvertently damaged and a pricey part is required to fix the machine and stop it being unplugged for good. To get this part and save the game, Ralph and Vanelope must travel into the wild world of the Internet, where they just might get a bit more than they bargained for.

Also by Jack Bottomley...
Stan & Ollie
Holmes and Watson
Bumblebee
Creed II
Aquaman
The heart of Phil Johnston and Rich Moore’s sequel is very much in the right place but while the film is colourful visually and has some fine ideas, it suffers from a distinct lack of focus. Telling a tale of friendship and how it can be tested by differing dreams and goals in life, there is a strong message here about following your path and not being selfish but Ralph Breaks The Internet never seems to fully carry off this message and by the end it leaves you strangely cold as Ralph is near to villainised and left as alone as he was when we first met him in the original film. Plus the central plot comes to be an afterthought and the fate of Sugar Rush fades into the background.

The jump into the online world and into the Disney Kingdom - while conjuring up some fun sight (or rather site) gags - sometimes edges dangerously near to the corporate vibes of the wretched Emoji Movie. Luckily, the film’s heart ensures we never reach that point but as you see all the brands and licenses populate the screen and as Disney pretty much revels in all that it now owns, you do feel as though the makers have slightly lost sight of the arcade game reverence and warm nostalgia that made the first film shine. Previously show stealing characters like Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch) also feel badly done by, as they get a slight story, which ultimately gets forgotten about amidst the internet/wi-fi adventure.

This all being said, there are some brilliant ideas that come through soundly, in particular the mid-film deconstruction of classic Disney tropes (capped off by a clever musical number), which is bold and a joy. Meanwhile the Disney Princesses of the past cameo in the film and somewhat steal the show with the referential and feministic part they play and it is a great touch to have – where possible – the original actors who voiced the iconic characters return to these roles. Additionally the movie boasts some strong set pieces (see the Slaughter Race sequences), that shows off the high level of the polished visuals and overall it never feels dull, even as the story and intentions can get a bit tangled or misguided. Though the film’s damning statement on internet comment sections is very on-point!

Ralph Breaks The Internet is a sizeable step down from its predecessor but, even in spite of its many hefty glitches, there will still be plenty happy they spent their coins on this follow-up.

Ralph Breaks The Internet (PG)
Directors: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot
Release Date: Out Now

Ralph Breaks The Internet, 5th January 2019, 11:46 AM