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Ralph breaks the Internet (and my suspension of disbelief)

I kind of liked Wreck it Ralph. Though I’m too young to have enjoyed the arcade lifestyle, I’m nerd enough to enjoy its many references and the general concept of a network of games that are extremely limited in their core and, by comparison, the inner anguish of a character that is very much trapped in his […]

c4214d3f7040176096e77c108bbf47daI kind of liked Wreck it Ralph. Though I’m too young to have enjoyed the arcade lifestyle, I’m nerd enough to enjoy its many references and the general concept of a network of games that are extremely limited in their core and, by comparison, the inner anguish of a character that is very much trapped in his life/job. It was very well done and, even if I’m not a fan of that kind of CGI, you have to appreciate the different styles for the games. What I particularly liked, aside from the core concept, was the way they developed fictional but absolutely plausible arcade games, in mix with classics like Q*bert and Pac-Man.

Sequels are often tricky and I’m generally cautious towards them. And don’t tell me “it’s a cartoon, take it easy”, because sequels are especially bad especially when it comes to Disney cartoons. Literally every sequel of a Disney movie is historically atrocious. It has been with special caution, hence, that I approached this Ralph Breaks the Internet. Also because I’m emotionally fragile, lately, and cartoons make me cry even when they talk.

That being said, the movie is not bad. A couple of things are actually rather good, but what I think fails here is the attempt to replicate the original formula without having a complete understanding of the formula itself.

The first movie was a story about friendship, the importance of fulfilling your dreams and of coming through with getting your shit done. One of the things I liked about the first movie was that in the end Ralph had to get his ass back to his game and do his fucking job because people were depending on him. Other things changed, but that didn’t. It’s a good message in a movie for kids.

This movie is a story about friendship too, about the importance of fulfilling your dreams but the last part kind of gets lost. Which is fine enough, although a little weak in narrative. There was a good point in there too: Vanellope moves on and is able to grow up but also allows other characters to grow up in Sugar Rush. It’s barely scratched on the surface, remains underdeveloped and to fully tap into it you would have to show our heroine having a negative impact on the other characters in her game. Something Disney is not prepared to do. It’s fine. No hopes there.

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Additions in the game environment are still good: Slaughter Race is a completely fictional and highly plausible race game, Shank (Gal Gadot’s new voiced character) and her gang are spot on. What the movie fails to do is being equally clever with the rest of the brands. I get that the movie is used to give popularity to other Disney franchises and I can accept the Disney Princesses section. It can also be rather funny to see that some of the mentioned activities are actual web pages of ohmy.disney.com, such as the “Whose Disney Princess is your best friend” trivia. Of course it’s disturbing to me seeing Star Wars and Marvel mixed up in this, but that’s because I’m old.

What I found to be disturbing was the endless stream of social networks and websites being called with their actual names, instead of funny hints. There’s a reason the most enjoyable bits are with the KnowsMore search engine and within BuzzzTube, the video streaming platform both hinting at YouTube and BuzzFeed, and around what’s clearly the Pinterest tower, with Ralph using the giant pin to fight off his evil clones. On the other hand, it’s disturbing to see the plain mention of… well, you name it: eBay, Amazon, Google. The Twitter and Gmail references were delicate enough, but with eBay you can almost see the marketing politics going on right there on screen. And, in all due honesty, I didn’t pay for this shit. My suspension of disbelief is completely gone. Thank you very much.

 

 

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