The best sequels expand the universe and go deeper than their predecessors. Many sequels fall short, but fortunately, “Wreck-It Ralph 2” is not one of those sequels. It expands on the lore and provides excellent character development, but creatively, it manages to do something I’ve never seen done in any other movie released in the new millennium. It gives an honest snapshot of internet culture from people who understand it.
The movie’s plot starts out simply enough. When Ralph and Vanellope’s antics accidentally cause “Sugar Rush” to get unplugged, the pair decide to embark on a quest to the internet to find the spare part to fix the game. They find what they’re looking for, but along the way, Ralph and Vanellope also discover a whole new world that changes them both and challenges their friendship.
Discovering this new world and the resulting character development are where the real meat of the movie is. I will reiterate. I have never seen a movie that so brilliantly represents internet culture and satirizes it as “Wreck-It Ralph 2” does.
So many levels of the internet are represented here. You’ve got online shopping, shady internet businesses, search engines, the dark web, interactive web quizzes, family entertainment, and of course, the culture of viral online videos. The film is honest about the good side and the bad side of internet culture in a way that kids and adults understand. I cannot go into too much detail without giving spoilers. So, I’ll tell you that the content is all family-friendly, but the implications are clear to audiences of all ages. As is its impact on Ralph and Vanellope.
As a result of their exposure to the internet, Ralph and Vanellope change as people and that change is where most of the conflict in this story comes from. Without giving too much away, the internet brings out Ralph’s insecurities while it inspires Vanellope to pursue new possibilities, two things the internet is good at doing. The conflict between them is then whether to shrink back into the world of the familiar or to pursue the new possibilities of this new technology and how their friendship adjusts to these choices.
The conflict is a modern update of old versus new. But it stands out here, because the twist is that the answer presented is not completely one or the other. “Wreck-It Ralph 2” shows that the answer is a compromise and that compromise looks different depending on how you feel about the internet. It also teaches that strong friendships can survive these changes and adjust to these compromises. I know this description is really vague, but I cannot go into further detail without giving away spoilers.
Everything else in this movie is great, too. The humor is great. The writing is great. The animation is fantastic. The voice acting is great. It’s a great time all-around, but again, the best part about this movie is the message about the internet and about friendship.
The internet is a large world where the possibilities are endless. It can be a good place where you can find community, fun, ideas, products, artwork, and connections that are truly worthwhile and wouldn’t be possible without it. However, you can also find plenty of trouble, negativity, and disappointment. It all depends on how you use it. And whatever compromise you choose, true friendship will survive.