Ralph Breaks the Internet

 

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Having caused havoc in his video arcade, digital avatar Wreck-It-Ralph penetrates the Internet in search of the land of eBay. It’s a scary world in there.

 
Ralph Breaks the Internet

Vanellope (centre) finds herself surrounded by Cinderella, Pocahontas, Snow White, Jasmine and co.

 

Well, there’s a spoiler. Actually, Ralph – or ‘Wreck-It-Ralph’, to give him his full title – just breaks into the Internet and creates havoc. It’s in his job description. He is the video arcade villain of a game called ‘Fix-It Felix Jr’ and reigned supreme in Disney’s wildly inventive and engaging head-trip, Wreck-It-Ralph (2012). The film also grossed over $471 million worldwide, so a sequel was inevitable.

 

Now, the art of the truly exemplary sequel is not to repeat what went before, but to take the concept to an entirely new level. The first film, Walt Disney’s 52nd ‘official’ animated feature, certainly took viewers to a whole new world and the sequel does build on the premise. When Ralph’s best friend, a racer chick called Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman), finds that her game is to be terminated because a customer has broken the steering device, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is determined to find a replacement. And with Wi-Fi newly installed in the arcade, Ralph and Vanellope penetrate the World Wide Web in order the access the magic realm of eBay. Of course, as our protagonists are just digital avatars, it’s not going to be as straightforward as they hope…

 

Ralph Breaks the Internet is not for everyone – but almost everyone. Anyone who grew up in the age of the video arcade and feels a nostalgic tingle at the mere mention of Pac-Man, Space Invaders or Mario Bros., will treasure this. And anybody who feels as comfortable on the Internet as they do in the real world should thrill to the film’s creative breadth. And in an era of cinematic cross-fertilisation, this really does take the biscuit. Once Vanellope is whisked into a Disney fansite, anything seems possible. It’s also kinda scary. With Disney owning Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm, Pixar, the Muppets and Winnie-the-Pooh, its cultural monopoly is eye watering. Thus, Ralph and Vanellope interact with Baby Groot, C-3PO, Buzz Lightyear, Eeyore, Sonic the Hedgehog, Grumpy the dwarf and a cadre of Stormtroopers. In one priceless sequence, Vanellope finds herself surrounded by Disney princesses, from Cinderella and Pocahontas to Frozen’s Anna and Elsa. And while defending her legitimacy to be in their camp, she is fiercely cross-examined by the animated sorority. Pocahontas: “What kind of a princess are you?” Vanellope: “What kind?” Rapunzel: “Do you have magic hair?” Vanellope: “No.” Cinderella: “Do animals talk to you?” Vanellope: “No.” Jasmine: “Do you have daddy issues?” Vanellope: “I don't even have a mom!” To which her new friends cry in unison: “Neither do we!"

 

Indeed, anybody who loved Steven Spielberg’s pop-cultural orgy Ready Player One, will get a real kick out of this. However, the film is more than just a brand-name bonanza. Serious issues such as trolling, viral contamination, social media addiction and the true meaning of friendship are also broached. This is Disney, after all. But it’s also thrilling stuff, particulalry the scene in which Vanellope finds herself in an adult-themed on-line game called Slaughter Race. The ensuing chase between her and a bad-ass racer called Shank (voiced by Gal Gadot) leaves Disney’s Cars standing. And it gets really scary when Ralph and Vanellope stray into the Dark Net, where they encounter an Underworld of iniquitous malware operators. Above all, though, the film is a hugely imaginative thrill-ride that is as funny as it is entertaining and will warrant more repeat viewings than any other cartoon this year.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O'Neill, Taraji P. Henson, Daniel Middleton, Bill Hader, Flula Borg, Timothy Simons, Ali Wong, Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, June Squibb, John DiMaggio, Jason Mantzoukas, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Hale, Kate Higgins, Jodi Benson, Paige O'Hara, Linda Larkon, Irene Bedard, Ming-Na Wen, Anika Noni Rose, Mandy Moore, Kelly Macdonald, Pamela Ribon, Kristen Bell, Idina Manzel, Auliʻi Cravalho, Tim Allen, Anthony Daniels, Vin Diesel, Michael Giacchino, Brad Garrett, Corey Burton.

 

Dir Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, Pro Clark Spencer, Screenplay Phil Johnston and Pamela Ribon, Ph Nathan Warner, Pro Des Cory Loftis, Ed Jeremy Milton and Fabienne Rawley, Music Henry Jackman.

 

Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios-Walt Disney Pictures.

112 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 30 November 2018. Cert. PG.