I have to admit that there wasn’t really any film out that I wanted to see, and I recall from my review of Wreck It Ralph years ago that the film did not need a sequel. However, a friend of mine stated that the film was getting “a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes”, but I recently checked, and it was settling in at 86 percent. In fact, I just checked about a few days later, and it is now at 88 percent at this writing.
This isn’t the first time that I have seen numbers on Rotten Tomatoes high upon a film’s initial release, and then go terribly down later. I believe that all of DC’s Cinematic Universe films are guilty of this. I feel like there is a way to just “mess with the numbers” when it comes to a film’s initial release, like someone who alters figures on their taxes.
Either way, I feel manipulated. It is my belief that movies are a subjective experience, which is what makes them so great. I believe that everyone’s favorite film is probably someone’s least favorite film. However, there are films that are considered just “bad” because most do not receive it well.
I believe that when we are watching a good movie, we “feel” it, because it produces a legitimately positive response, even if we can’t explain why. I’ve explained that one of my favorite films is Speed Racer, even though it is a very low-rated film and was a flop for Warner Brothers. I’ve already explained why I like it, but I don’t think it is wrong to have feelings involved with my reasoning.
The issue with Disney of late is they have created some really great and original films such as Moana and Coco. However, they have this really annoying habit of creating sequels that are made to be surefire hits, but aren’t really necessary, like Incredibles 2 and Cars 3. These sequels have their moments, but they really are not good, overall. I just don’t get that initial feeling that I felt with the original.
Wreck It Ralph 2, or Ralph Breaks the Internet, is just like this. The initial premise is really, really forced, and the idea of Ralph hitting the Internet seems even more forced. There are spoilers ahead at this point, so hit “more” for more.
The Disney-filled previews
Now, I have no idea who decides what trailers go before individual movies. I have noticed that I will usually see trailers for Disney movies before Disney films. In the case of Ralph Breaks the Internet, I saw several for Disney films, and two of them were for Toy Story 4. Yes, there were two trailers for the same film. Both of them were teasers, one showing the Toy Story characters dancing with a weird plastic fork who, I don’t know, might be the reason for making another mediocre sequel.
The second Toy Story 4 preview had these two carnival prizes talking about Toy Story 4. At first, I thought this was some preview for Ugly Dolls, a film that I had heard something about. I have no idea if that film is owned by Disney, but it was weird to see Woody and Buzz walk up to these ugly dolls and correct them on the whole “infinity and beyond” catchphrase.
Then this “thing” shows up, and I have no idea what the proper name for this is. I saw this happen during Incredibles 2, but this blurb happens where the film’s creators thank the audience for coming. In the case of Incredibles 2, there was kind of an apology for waiting 14 years for a sequel. I felt this was just unnecessary, and yet a similar spiel was done for Ralph Breaks the Internet as well.
Quit doing this, Disney. Seriously, it is in bad taste.
The Weak Premise of Ralph Breaks the Internet
As established in the first film, video game characters leave their games after players stopped playing. They hang out at big grand central station housed in a surge protector, and Ralph, Vanellope, and all the characters introduced in the original film, are living an enjoyable life. Vanellope longs for more than the candy rat race she runs every day, and Ralph makes her a course.
Unfortunately, there are limits in the game that the characters can do, and what Ralph does pushes the envelope. Although Vanellope loves the new racetrack, what Ralph does results in Vanellope’s game, Sugar Rush, getting physically broken. Yeah, it’s weird as this rules of this universe is that a video game character can take over his/her controls, but the controls will move in real-time. You have to really suspend your disbelief for this, as the video game player and video game character cause the steering wheel controls just break off.
The owner of the arcade realizes that there is probably no point in replacing the part, because the only replacement part is available on eBay for $200. I did a search for “steering wheel arcade controller” and got quite a few searches, honestly, so it doesn’t seem right that only one is available for that price.
As established in the first film, a game going out of order results in essential death of video game world when it is unplugged. Since Ralph fears this will happen to Vanellope, he wants to do anything to stop it. When he learns that the arcade is getting Wi-Fi, he and Vanellope go to the Internet to see if he can’t find that precious replacement part.
I have to admit that film becomes a Tron film at this point. Remember how the opening scenes in the real world are incredibly boring, but once you enter the grid, the awesomeness ramps up really quickly. Such is the case with Ralph Breaks the Internet. In this case, the Internet displayed in the film is a wonder of a futuristic city where every tower-sized building is a website. It is done much better than The Emoji Movie. Yes, I just compared this film to The Emoji Movie (it is very hard not to), but at least Ralph Breaks the Internet I was able to finish.
The Awful Third-Act Breakup
Ralph and Vanellope then head to eBay and the plot gets really far-fetched and complicated. They win the auction on the steering wheel, but can’t pay for it. Ralph finds a way to make money on the Internet, which requires them to get certain rewards in games for cash. Eventually, it leads them to an online game that is a racing game in some kind of dystopia/GTA cross-breed called Slaughter Race.
Vanellope really likes the world of Slaughter Race, and wants to stay. There is even this weird musical number that feels reminiscent of something out of The Simpsons. I actually believe that some of the writers worked with that show, but I digress.
I kind of knew that a “third-act breakup” was coming. It was in the first Wreck It Ralph film, as Ralph and Vanellope separate for extremely weak reasons (see a pattern in this film?) I believe that Vanellope is looking for more hits for Ralph’s videos (I’ll explain later), and she goes off somewhere. This leads her back to Slaughter Race, and Ralph starts to believe that Vanellope is leaving him behind.
Ralph decides to get a virus to infect Slaughter Race to it will be boring for Vanellope. He has to venture into the dark web to get a virus from some nightmare fuel character. Seriously, just look at this guy!
The virus then goes nuts, but hey, Ralph does own up to it. What is interesting is that Ralph and Vanellope separate, and it’s kind of okay because they are still good friends.
There is Something Good in Ralph Breaks the Internet
There are a lot of bad films out there that actually have a seed of a really good story in them. For example, Tommy Wiseau’s “so bad it’s good” The Room does have an interesting story of a man betrayed by his job and love, resulting in a modern tragedy. Yeah, it’s not well done for so many reasons.
It is interesting that Ralph Breaks the Internet does have something to say about Internet culture, but it is unclear what it is. When the aforementioned virus goes insane, it detects Ralph’s insecurity and begins this zombie attack of cloned Ralphs. Then the zombie army becomes this giant made of Ralphs. I’m sure the Disney animation department was driven crazy, and it is a leap forward for them.
I believe that perhaps this is some kind of statement about how the Internet makes us insecure. After all, the Internet users depicted in the film are all people with overly-sized square heads, so blockheads, if you will.
As I mentioned before, Ralph finds a way to make money on the Internet, and this involves some viral videos. Man, it is strange to see a film where video game characters make videos on the Internet. Is this trying to say all viral videos creations come from created characters?
Either way, this film is more of Vanellope’s hero’s journey, but it feels very botched in the process, and it might have been due to too much studio interference.
The Disney Exploitation
I’ll talk about how Disney advertised itself before the film even began later, but for now, let’s embraced the Dumbo-sized Disney elephant all over Ralph Breaks the Internet. In the scene where Vanellope is trying to gain more supporters for Ralph’s video channel, she goes to Disney’s website.
Disney’s website looks like a Convention, and has places for Star Wars and Marvel. Oh yeah, they are really pouring on their intellectual properties here. There’s a scene where people are asking Groot questions, and yeah, he gives one response: guess what it is. At this point, Vanellope gets chased by Imperial Stormtroopers because…you know, why are these characters being made manifest here? I can understand the video game characters being sentient, because the first film clearly established that. However, on the Disney website on the Internet, all the Disney characters, including the princesses, are sentient as well.
This would be a good time to talk about why the Disney Princesses are all in one place together. I knew the scene would be in the film, as I saw it on the trailer, but I couldn’t help but wonder why Ralph Breaks the Internet would be the event to do this.
To its credit, the princesses help save Ralph’s life at the end of the film, even if they have to put him in a dress to do it. Actually, there is no reason whatsoever to put Ralph in a dress, but the 5-year-old who was sitting next to me in the theater appreciated it.
But the only reason why all Princess work together is because it can be done, so Disney just did it. You can summarize a lot of Disney’s current business model with that.
Final Words on Ralph Breaks the Internet
In short, Ralph Breaks the Internet is an example of how Disney takes some of its creative works and squeezes everything out of it. I can’t help but wonder what awesome new awesome creative work is being tabled because a derivative sequel just has to be made. Disney needs to realize how important creativity truly is, and keep trying new things and just let the old be trophies.
However, I’m certain that Wreck It Ralph 3 will be made, and probably has some projected release date. Dang it, Disney.