By Jonathan Reed
Video courtesy of Disney©
It was the surprise hit of 2012, and caused an influx in Google searches for the old arcade game ‘Wreck-It Ralph,’ so it was inevitable that a sequel would be on the horizon. But could it live up to the impressive original? Put simply, YES!
Set 6 years after the downfall of the villainous Turbo from the first movie, Ralph and Venelope are still best friends. Yet their friendship is put to the ultimate test as, after a sequence of mishaps, both find themselves heading into the vast expanse of the Internet, in search for a driving wheel to fix Venelope’s arcade game, Sugar Rush.
It is a mighty task to take on such a broad subject as the Internet, yet Disney effortlessly navigates the tightrope of referencing popular culture. They get the balance just right, which each cameo serving a purpose to push the story on. From the inclusion of every Disney Princess, to franchises such as the Muppets and Star Wars, Wreck-It Ralph 2 doesn’t use these appearances as a cheap gimmick.
We also see a new direction within the character development this time around. Both Venelope and Ralph are much more fleshed out as individuals. You can easily tell that the writers have fully immersed themselves to explore the complexities of the duos relationship and how specifically, Ralph depends on his racing friend.
With the addition of Gal Gadot, Shank, a tough and feisty racing driver from the online game, Slaughter Race, Disney has delved into a movie that celebrates the strength of its female characters. This is wonderfully demonstrated, in albeit a humorous way through the collection of iconic Disney Princesses.
With icons, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, and Belle to name a few, returning, the writers have used the opportunity to mock their own brand. A particular scene where each Princess lists off how oppressed they have been, as if it is perfectly acceptable is both immensely smart and impeccably constructed. It also re-introduces these famous characters to a new audience in a way that they will understand better.
What is truly impressive about Wreck-It Ralph 2, are the social themes that run through the story. The plot plays on Ralphs need to be liked and hones in on his obsession with gaining ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ to impress Venelope.
In a society where we all consistently check our phones and social media with an almost obsessive nature, Disney have taken a subject that could have very likely taken Wreck-It Ralph into a very different zone. Instead they navigate the obstacles with care, ensuring that the pit falls of Ralph’s behaviour doesn’t turn the audience off.
Though throughout this social messaging, one theme is constant and envelopes every frame of the film, fun. Each sequence, from the car race against Venelope and Shank, to the final climax, Disney never take their foot off the fun accelerator. It is unashamedly loud and funny. And whilst in some cases, this can become overpowering, the writers haven’t made this mistake.
What is also apparent, is how beautifully animated the film is. This is always a granted from Disney Studios, yet it does feel as if a new level of animated detail has been achieved here. The reveal of the Internet ‘city’ is breath-taking and whilst it is impossible for the film to explore every corner, it does leave you hoping that in future sequels, the makers will.
Wreck-It Ralph 2 is an impressive, funny and smart animated film. Disney has manage to combine the winning formula from the original and added a new sense of gravitas and adventure without sacrificing the fluidity of the plot and character development. From the cacophony of pop-culture references and jokes at Disney’s own expense, you never feel short-changed. Wreck-It Ralph 2 doesn’t live up to his title. This is a barnstorming success and a film that everyone, young and old, should see!