Pocahontas: Well, What kind of a Princess are you?
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
For the first time in over a decade Disney decided to do a theatrically released sequel (outside of Pixar) to one of their movies. In this case it was Wreck-It-Ralph: a movie that involved video (real and fictional) games and the characters in them all in one video game arcade world. It wasn’t the Who Framed Roger Rabbit of video games despite what the trailers led many to believe but it did have great animation and a heartfelt and engaging story. This movie really helped push Disney into the modern age of animation. Many past Disney sequels often wound up being vastly inferior to the original not only in animation but also in terms of writing. However this sequel shows that Disney has learned from its mistakes and proved to be a worthy successor.
The story takes place six years after the original. Ralph from the video game Fix it Felix Jr. and Vanellope from Sugar Rush are leading happy lives hanging out every night after work doing the same thing. While Ralph is content with this, Vanellope becomes tired of her game’s predictability and yearns for something new. Ralph tries to create a bonus track in her game but it results in the arcade steering wheel being broken. With the company that made Sugar Rush defunct and a replacement on eBay proving to be far too expensive, the game is at risk of being unplugged leaving its characters homeless. However a new Wi-Fi router is installed in the arcade. Thus Ralph and Vanellope set out into the world of the Internet to procure the wheel from eBay themselves encountering all sorts of interesting things in the process.
The first third of the story with Ralph and Vanellope having to race against the clock to get the money for the broken steering wheel is quite a tired plotline. It’s one that’s been done in several past movies and this one doesn’t add anything new making it quite predictable. It also hints a side plot with Felix and Calhoun having looking after all the sugar Rush characters as their own children. This is a plotline completely glossed over resulting in the two virtually being reduced to cameos. However once Ralph and Vanellope enter the Internet, that is when the story goes into drive. The way the Internet is shown in this movie makes it a gigantic world with a lot to explore. It also gets into the heart of the movie, which is Ralph and Vanellope’s friendship leading to a good message. There’s no real villain in all this trying to force it. It’s just Ralph having to learn to overcome his dependence on Vanellope for friendship and how his need to be with her at every turn could potentially be unhealthy for the both of them as Ralph pretty much does nothing without her and as a result Vanellope is missing out on her desire for unpredictability as a result. The message is explained in a very deep and thought-provoking manner building up on the message of its predecessor. The movie also shows that while the Internet may be an adventurous place it is also a dangerous and mean-spirited one.
While there have been past representations of the internet in animation, the way the Internet is presented to us in this movie is one of the best visualized out there. The original Wreck-it-Ralph had numerous styles, environments, designs, and character movements. The sequel expands upon this in great detail. The animation gives the Internet such various worlds giving the movie a massive scale. Yet it also pays attention to the smaller details as well making the world of the Internet truly feel alive. Some of the places such as the Oh My Disney website (in addition to others) feature several recognizable properties including Stormtroopers, Stan Lee, Grumpy, etc. They are mostly featured in the background to help the viewer and characters immerse themselves in the Internet world rather than have them be used as blatant advertisement. Any of the areas that play a major role are the made-up ones, which lead to some creative scenarios and detailed designs like the game Slaughter Race and the search engine KnowsMore. The movie put a lot of detail into its animation making it big not only in quantity but also quality.
Ralph seemingly starts out one-dimensional with him just being a strong guy with not much brain. But as the movie keeps going we see more of his layers. In many ways Ralph personifies the movie’s message of the dangers of an unhealthy friendship. And as the movie progresses we gradually see Ralph realize what it means to be a true friend.
Vanellope still brings the same comedy that made her so likable in the last movie. However here she’s portrayed as a deep soul searcher. She’s not merely looking for the steering wheel so she can return to her home but yearns for some unpredictability in not knowing what her life racing is going to be like.
While there are other characters they are mostly sidelined to expand and develop the bond between Ralph and Vanellope. Some like Felix and Calhoun are almost pointless but others like KnowsMore, Spamley, Shank, and Yesss help progress the plot and help Vanellope in her search for unpredictability. The creators brought back most of the old voice actresses for the Disney Princesses giving a fun life to the movie and they give a great deal of comedy and nostalgic Disney-like adventure into Vanellope’s journey.
Ralph Breaks the Internet may start out slow but it does build up. It does have a lot of characters but it never strays from the heart of the movie. It has a creative portrayal of the Internet and incredible animation. These aspects make it appeal to anyone even if they aren’t familiar with the first movie. Ralph may have broken the Internet in this movie but he also made it for the viewers.