It’s been an anticipated sequel since it was announced –alongside the Lego Movie 2– and being released right in the thick of the school holidays is always a good move, but sadly Ralph Breaks the Internet just does not scale the heights of its predecessor.
Life for Ralph his perfect; he’s not longer shunned as the bad guy and he spends every night with his best friend Venelope chugging root beer at Tappers and watching the sun rise. When Venelope’s game gets unplugged, the two travel to the Internet in search of a replacement part, but the adventure becomes more than they bargained for, as Ralph becomes a BuzzTube sensation, Venelope discovers her dreams in a game called ‘Slaughter Race’, and the opportunities of the Net start to put a strain on their friendship.
With Finding Dory as an exception, I have come to the conclusion that Disney and Pixar just aren’t cut out for sequels. Every follow-on movie that has graced our screens has been lacklustre and scrabbling to scale the heights of the original and Ralph Breaks the Internet is no exception.
While I’ll admit that the movie delves into some pretty relevant and important territories –i.e. the effects of toxic masculinity and the dangers of neediness and co-dependence in relationships- the overall cinematic experience from this movie was kind of eh. It took me a while to come around on the first one, to be fair, but I can’t see myself adding this movie to my collection for the simple fact that it really screwed up with the characters. Ralph and Venelope are the heroes; that’s fine, but the two become increasingly annoying as the film progresses to the point where you don’t even care that their friendship is failing. And those great supporting characters from the first movie? They get shoved into the background as cameos with their personalities completely rewritten –or recoded if you will. They get replaced with new characters from the Internet, some of which are cool and integral to the story, but most of which are just there to get a laugh and appeal to a wider audience (e.g. the Disney princesses).
The film itself is visually very pretty and a good achievement in animation, with the world of the Internet being like a futuristic metropolis one might find in any sci-fi flick; clean, shiny, and not a tree to be seen –aside from in the Twitter district. Sadly though, clean and shiny animation does not a good film make! If you don’t like any of the characters, therefore don’t care about them, then the relationship falls apart as you’re not compelled to go on the journey with them and don’t get any emotional payoff that’s obviously meant to be there.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a visually stimulating movie and it is pretty fun, but ultimately I just wasn’t engaged with anything in it and that really puts a damper on the whole cinematic experience. While it deals with some relevant issues and the way the Internet is depicted is kind of interesting, it’s not a film that I would hurry to watch again. Maybe Ralph and Venelope should have just stayed at Tappers.