Having finally watched the first film mere months before this follow-up was released, I’m at least grateful that my impulse Redbox rental didn’t take all of six years to watch like its predecessor did.
This sequel, which of course takes place six years after the 2012 original, follows Ralph and Vanellope as they journey into the Internet (depicted as an obviously huge metropolis that even Manhattan can’t rival) by way of their arcade’s newly-installed Wi-Fi router in order to find a replacement steering wheel for her game cabinet.
In addition to the main cast from the first film reprising their roles (led by John C. Reilly as Ralph and Sarah Silverman as Vanellope), the new additions include Gal Gadot as Shank, a tough-girl NPC in the online game Slaughter Race; Taraji P. Henson as Yesss, the head of a YouTube/BuzzFeed amalgamated knockoff aptly called BuzzzTube; and Ed O’Neill as the eponymous proprietor of Litwak’s Arcade. Also, many real-life characters from not just video games, but also from other media make cameo appearances, including an entire section of cyberspace reserved for The Walt Disney Company itself, in what has to be the most notorious example of corporate synergy ever. (And yes, Sonic the Hedgehog returns to provide some brief but important exposition just like his previous appearance.*) Of course, being that this is the Internet we’re talking about, there are numerous references to actual websites, platforms, and services; eBay, in particular, is central to the plot.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, being an average sequel, is probably more entertaining for younger audiences than the more well-rounded original. Yet it still manages to have a fairly interesting premise, plenty of heart (sometimes literally), and a good overall message embedded in its real-life product placement smorgasbord, one which manages to satirize the online world as much as it encapsulates how it looked in the late 2010s. It’s not a bad movie by any measure, and should provide at least some enjoyment for most who come across it.
P.S. Just for grins and giggles, I can only imagine what Virtual Disneyland looks like now in the post-21CF era…that huge searchlight-flanked monolith alone must take up a lot of room in there!
*No, my question from the first film’s review about how Sonic manages to hang out in Game Central Station with characters who actually originate from arcade games has not yet been answered. For now, I’m still subscribing to the theory of speed.