Suffice to say, I was not looking forward to a preview screening of Ralph Breaks The Internet, a.k.a. Wreck It Ralph 2. I was tired, grumpy and I’m really not a fan of Disney movies, but it ended up being one of my favourite movies of the year. It’s just fun, from the first few seconds when Ralph and Vanellope discuss wether Streetfighter’s Zangief waxes his body hair. The jokes rarely stop.
The story finds a contented Ralph but a bored Vanellope following the same routine day after day, with Vanellope complaining that her old school kart racer only has a few tracks which she knows off by heart. Cue the McGuffin to chase, in this case the steering wheel on the Sugar Rush arcade cabinet, and the two friends set off through the arcade’s new internet connection to buy a new wheel.
Unlike the Emoji Movie, where brands where forced in your face, the hundreds of iconic websites featured in the movie are only used for brief jokes and background – only eBay gets a large amount of screen time. It’s amazing how many things they jam in, from flocks of Twitter birds, to pop-up ads, Reddit AMAs, literally hoovering up ‘likes’ from viral videos, and search engines. You name it, it’s here.
While new video game characters are kept to a minimum – Sonic has a speaking part this time – Disney characters are everywhere, including Iron Man, Star Wars, and the Disney princesses. The latter two are mashed up in one of the funniest sequences I have seen in a film for a very long time, with the princesses and Vanellope bonding as Stormtroopers search the area in an exact recreation of scenes from A New Hope.
As the story continues the pair find themselves in an online racing game, Slaughter Race, where they meet Gal Gadot’s Shank. The game is clearly based on Grand Theft Auto’s grimy realism, with Vanellope having kittens because it’s open world – “I can race anywhere!” she squeals. Again, the movie subverts expectations and the flamethrower wielding thugs that make up Shank’s gang aren’t as mean as they seem.
The movie isn’t afraid to tackle the darker side of the internet, with the story taking the duo to the pits of the internet, a dusty place with signs for Geocities and IRC chat rooms, where they are tasked by the rather shady JP Spamley to find items in the game world which can be sold for real money. Yep, its loot boxes and CS:GO gambling. Ralph also has a sequence where he reads comments posted about his videos, and we even get to go to the ‘Dark Net’, a rather surprising move considering this is a kids movie and we all know what kind of filth you can find there.
John C Reilly continues to be prefect as Ralph and Sarah Silverman’s squeaky, grating voice, which really annoyed me in the first movie, is much more bearable. As you might expect, the animation is brilliant with Ralph looking huggable and soft, and human avatars inside the internet perfectly realised as diminutive square-headed characters. There’s a good sequence involving human players in Slaughter Race, their avatars’ facial expressions kept wonderfully bland as they keep on running in circles.
The soundtrack gets a special mention, there’s a rather good track by Imagine Dragons over the end credits, but the star of the show is Vanellope’s Disney Princess song, ‘A Place Called Slaughter Race’, which also features Gal Gadot’s vocals. It’s in the style of a typical Princess song, but with lyrics about explosions and gas grenades and in grand Disney tradition it also features singing animals, in this case a sewer Shark with a mouth full of mongrel dogs.
If I had one criticism it would be that the final act is a little generic, but when the obligatory lesson about friendship was jammed down my throat it really didn’t bother me as I had such a blast with the rest of the movie.
The movie managed to do one other thing, and that’s to remind me that the internet is actually amazing. Sure, there are pop up ads, nasty comments, and trolls, but for the most part it’s rather good in here, isn’t it?
Ralph Breaks The Internet hits UK screens on Friday 30th November and I highly recommend you go see it.
Thanks to Prescription PR for sorting the screening!