Technology has always allowed advances in cinema, whether that be through storytelling or graphics, here the two meet as Ralph and Vanellope traverse the internet. It’s a well-worn plot to have characters go through the internet in search of hijinks, and in in this film it is displayed on a huge scale. The internet world is full of skyscrapers for each website – the larger the building the larger website – with giant, glittering billboards displaying names like Amazon, Google and eBay it’s hard not to feel like you’re watching an advertisement. Previously films such as The Lego Movie, Chef and The Social Network showed that by focusing on the characters the giant logos are just a shiny prop, but Wreck-it Ralph achieves this in half measures.
The story starts with Ralph (John C. Reily) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) enjoying time in their video-game world, surrounded by a cast of retro game characters from Pac-Man to Sonic. Disaster strikes when Vanellope’s arcade game breaks, with the last spare part for sale on eBay. Ralph and Vanellope decide to enter the internet and buy the part before her game is shut down forever. Along the way the pair encounter a few setbacks. In a way this is a road movie, as the pair set out and learn about each other and themselves.
Vanellope has grown bored with the same tracks she has to play everyday and is desperate for some variety. Through the internet the pair come across all manner of websites, but most of all the online game Slaughter Race. In Slaughter Race, Vanellope finds all the challenges she could hope for, not to mention gratuitous violence. Her new friendship with the lead racer Shank (Gal Gadot) put a rift between her and Ralph, who is in fear of losing his best friend. The focus on their relationship keeps the film grounded, but the unoriginal wedge driving them apart cheapens the story for adults who will have seen this before, while younger audiences may not be so picky.
For the kids, Ralph Breaks the Internet is colourful, interesting and grounded in the friendship of Ralph and Vanellope. The world of the internet is insightful and at times satirical when the camera shifts to the humans on the screen staring slack-jawed and looking for an escape from their lives. The film as a whole is fun and provides a teaching moment for children about personal growth and allowing your friends to grow, even if that means in a different direction from yourself.
Wreck-it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet released on the 30th November 2018.
Words by Sunny Ramgolam @SunnyRamgolam.
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