RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
Directed By: Rich Moore & Phil Johnston
Screenplay By: Phil Johnston & Pamela Ribon
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures & Walt Disney Animation Studios
Distributed By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
It has been a long, long time my readers and for that, you do have my apologies. Life threw enough curveballs my way that frankly, the very idea of continuing this blog felt more like a chore than a delight. I was, quite literally on one spectacularly awful day, burnt out. Then, I got into a conversation with a friend and following that conversation, I had gone to see a film and following that film, I’ve found once wispy candle-flame is back into a raging inferno once more. In other words…
I’m back but contrary to before, there will be no rules, no adherence to specific patterns, and no set schedules. I’ll update when I can with whatever I can though I’m sure certain theme of posts will be closely following this one. The being said, let’s start the review of Disney’s newest animated feature film and arguably the first official sequel to a animated feature film, Ralph Breaks the Internet.
I say first because of reasons that’ll detract from this film’s review something fierce so that’ll follow at a later date. Now, on to the review proper!
I’d argue that it is Disney but in recent years Disney has had some fairly good, if not equal, competition in recent years in the computer animation department but if there’s a few things worth mentioning it’s this. Wreck-It Ralph the film is six years old and in some ways, that shows in this film because as we all know, technology these days have a lifespan of what feels like only mere months before the next hot new product comes along that puts its predecessor to shame.
Ralph Breaks the Internet was no exception to this as rendering technology had updated to such a degree that pretty much everything that was reused for the sequel, from environments to characters, had to be touched upon to match the degree of their current rendering systems. It’s not painfully obvious if one has a considerable amount of time between the two films but if you are like me and happened to watch the first film before the sequel… Well, it’s nowhere near the same degree of difference as the likes of the Toy Story films but it is there.
With Wreck-It Ralph, we saw how video games, or at least those of the arcade variety, are brought to life and how they live and function when the arcade closes. The interpretation of the Internet is not strictly speaking the most original that I’ve seen, because believe me when you’ve seen Japan’s idea of how the Internet looks/functions…
Anyway, much like its predecessor, the only thing that really “fails” about the Internet is portrayed is that for all that it teases at more recognized websites like Google or Amazon, the only places we truly explore are websites that are, for lack of a better term, expy of those same sites. Knowsmore and Buzzztube are obvious references to Google and Youtube with minute differences with the former being a slowly shrinking and admittedly obsolete website and the latter a new and seemingly “easy” way to make some serious digital cash.
Just as before with Wreck-It Ralph, I sincerely wished that Ralph Breaks the Internet explored more of this most literal World Wide Web of places but, more importantly, that some majorly well known online games made some kind of appearance. No joke, the only online game we see is the far too aptly titled Slaughter Race which in itself does not appear to be that bad a game but, c’mon, there was such prime opportunity here for some kind of World of Warcraft or even League of Legends cameos!
Though, to be fair, considering the sheer amount of trouble there had been just to make the opening and closing scenes of the “Bad-Anon” meetings in Wreck-It Ralph, one can only imagine the kind of henpecking and nitpicking that would result in any other major companies being involved in this film.
No joke, one of the more “sensible” disputes that arose from that scene was Sega and Nintendo constantly at odds with each other over the size of their respected villains, which digressed to such a point that they had to be called up and told that said characters were now gargantuan in stature so could we please agree to disagree get them to a reasonable size and move on thank you very much.
As one would expect, there are a plenty of these to be had in the film, predominately in the moments taking place in the arcade. Some characters make a longer appearance than previously or, in some surprising cases, more openly than before. Case in point, Sonic the Hedgehog actually talks to Ralph and Vanellope, explaining to them what “Wi-Fi” means and what it represents which I feel is a rather nice nod to the fact that Ralph actually was in a Sonic the Hedgehog game.
Yeah, no joke, Ralph was in the game Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed which was, even more ironically, a go-kart racing game. Why Ralph was chosen instead of Vanellope, I’ve no clue but there you go.
Anyway, aside from Sonic’s increased speaking role both at the beginning and ending of the film, some Street Fighter characters and a few other game characters are given more of a spotlight. For reasons that frankly escape me, Chun-Li of Street Fighter has a surprisingly larger amount of screen-time compared to her literal background cameo in the last film. Again, no idea why but I’m not complaining. Thanks to the aforementioned beginning and ending scenes, I’ve no doubt a few fanfictions may crop up featuring her and a few other characters.
Those in the Internet… well, aside from the “Oh My Disney” website, which I will be touching on just give me a moment, if one counts the backgrounds where websites appear either fully or in bits of advertisement, there is certainly far more than one would expect.
Now, to the cream of the crop, the Disney Princesses and other assorted Disney characters featured in the “fan website.” Not going to lie, there is a LOT going on in this website with far too many characters to try and spot without obsessive usage of the pause and rewind buttons. I swear there was at least one character in the background that was clearly traditionally animated and many more that I could name but there is one person I think is worth a quick mention.
One of the aspects of the Internet is the “netizens,” which are digitalized avatars of the actual person behind the computer screen. One of these netizens seen in the Marvel Comics section of the site is none other than Stan “The Man” Lee himself. Whether this was planned from the start or a last minute addition done for his recent passing… nice touch Disney. Nice touch.
Now, to the Princesses, oh boy, where do I start? I suppose the bitter portion first. What we see in the trailers is a generous chunk of what we see in the film proper with only a few tidbits followed by a crowning moment of teamwork the likes of which had me guffawing like a loon throughout the whole thing. I shan’t spoil it for anyone but I will say this. That question that Rapunzel asks Vanellope to certify her princess status? That comes back into play in a way that is nothing of hilarious.
NO SPOILERS here beyond what can be seen already on the many, many, many trailers out there but I will say this. The overall moral of the film is not altogether an original one though, to be fair, there are few morals that haven’t been done seven ways from Sunday as it is. That being said though, the way it is told is distinct with Ralph going through a heck of a journey to become more of what he was, which leads me to a point of dispute I’ve seen/heard from others who’ve seen this film namely, the way that Ralph is portrayed as being either too childish or too idiotic.
Let’s take a moment to analyze the character of Wreck-It Ralph. First and foremost, he’s an arcade game character that was made in 1982. More on point, he’s a villain whose entire motivation stems from the fact that a building was put up in the place where his home, a literal tree stump, used to be. Now while a game character is clearly not defined by their code, or as Zangeif himself so eloquently put it, “being a bad guy does not mean being a bad guy,” Ralph is a creature of habit.
For thirty years he’s played the role of villain in his game and rarely, if ever, left it for the arcade proper beyond the game Tapper’s and by his own admittance to Vanellope at the start of the film, he doesn’t really have any true motivation to being more than what he is. Following his gaining an actual friend in Vanellope and the respect of his game’s NPCs and hero, Ralph’s happy with what he has and doesn’t desire or want for more.
That or he has the patience of a saint considering it took thirty years of being treated as a literal bad guy and living in his game’s equivalent of a dump before he reached his wrecking point.
Bad puns aside, Ralph’s first and really only friend is Vanellope. Sure, he gets along better with the likes of Felix and other characters in the arcade, but Vanellope is the only one that he personally sees as being “his” and for someone whose only other personal objects include an old tree stump and a handmade medal by the aforementioned best friend… Well, can one hardly disbelieve that Ralph would do anything to keep Vanellope by his side?
As to Ralph’s reaction to the comments of his videos on Buzzztube… I have been told that I can be blunt with my observations and at times lacking a certain degree of tack. I’m not ashamed of this nor do I ever want for anyone to feel such when commenting on something be it negative or positive. It isn’t wrong to tell the truth but it is wrong to tell it in a way that is purposefully meant to be hurtful or to simply hurt for the sake of hurting. I shan’t repeat the comments I saw in Ralph Breaks the Internet but I will credit Disney for showing just how comments can both inspire and bring down those that they’re aimed for.
Overall, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a great film and one that I wholeheartedly recommend to any fans of the original or of Disney films in general. Is it the best animated film ever? Well, that’s a matter of personal opinion really and as for me, myself, personally… If this era of Disney Animated Feature Films is to be called “the Resurgence” then that name still applies with Ralph Breaks the Internet. Of this era of films, I’d say this film sits… pretty much at the top with its predecessor.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the other films that have come out in this era but, in point of order… Live action films are a separate category altogether, the same with Pixar, and as for Walt Disney Animation Studios, aside from Zootopia and, arguably, Big Hero 6, most of their recent films are based on long established stories. Told in different and distinctive ways sure and ones that have solidified themselves in the hearts, and in Frozen‘s case our ears, for years to come. Wreck-It Ralph and Ralph Breaks the Internet follows Pixar’s example in creating an entire world and story out of a simple yet incredibly imaginative question.
What if video game characters are alive? This same question is expanded even further in the sequel with the interpretation of how truly alive the Internet has become.
As a whole among the entirety of Disney animated films… I’d say this film is a serious contender but would not likely make the cut of my personal top five unless I could “cheat” by pairing it with the original. However, if we are to narrow it even further in terms of being the best sequel to a film, Disney or otherwise, than all hail Ralph, may he forever continue breaking his way into our hearts!