When it comes to a sequel, go bigger or go home. Rich Moore and Phil Johnston’s imaginative and deeply satisfying follow-up to the 2013 feel-good computer animation Wreck-It Ralph achieves the former without straying far from the latter by propelling its coin-operated arcade game characters into the mind-boggling realms of the World Wide Web.
Ralph Breaks The Internet expands its bewildering array of visual targets to include social media behemoths, video sharing portals and online shopping brands plus those irritating advertising pop-ups which multiply like a virulent fungus. The naivete of candy-coloured characters in their new home is mined for a steady stream of laughs.
“We know where to go if we need a pair of goggles,” chirps Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) as he misreads the name of one search engine and an inaugural visit to an auction website leads to Ralph and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) merrily bidding against one another.
A savvy, warm-hearted script credited to co-director Johnston and Pamela Ribon is punctuated by cautionary notes about viruses, the dark web and trolls.
“First rule of the internet: Don’t read the comments!” observes one guardian of the digital realm. Filmmakers responsible for Ralph Breaks The Internet can ignore these sage words: Comments for their briskly paced adventure should be overwhelmingly positive.
Vanellope von Schweetz hurriedly abandons her Sugar Rush game when a young girl accidentally sheers off the steering wheel during a race.
A replacement part is too costly for arcade owner Mr Litwak (Ed O’Neill) and he turns off the machine.
“I haven’t seen this many homeless characters since Space Invaders went down!” laments security guard Surge Protector (Phil Johnston).
While the denizens of Sugar Rush are rehoused in other games, Ralph and Vanellope find a steering wheel on an auction website and have 24 hours to raise just over 27,000 US dollars to honour their outlandish bid. Ralph raises funds as an intent meme star on the Buzzztube channel run by algorithm Yesss, and Vanellope puts the pedal to the metal in a Grand Theft Auto-esque game, which is the digitised dominion of sassy petrol head Shank (Gal Gadot).
Ralph Breaks The Internet warms the cockles of our hearts then breaks them in tiny pieces with a sob-inducing finale that cleverly nods to the 1980s arcade classic Donkey Kong. A wealth of visual gags demands a second viewing and a protracted interlude in the Oh My Disney! fan site, populated by a bevy of animated princesses and characters from the Marvel and Star Wars stables, is a self-referential hoot.
We emerge from the cinema with similarly broad grins and tear-glistened cheeks.
CREED II (12A) Three stars
Deep-rooted nostalgia for Rocky fails to deliver a knockout blow in the eighth instalment of the long-running series, which punched well above its weight class in 1977 by winning three Academy Awards including best picture and best director.
Co-written by Sylvester Stallone, whose fingerprints are on the scripts to every bruising bout in the saga, Creed II unleashes the same flurry of emotional jabs as its brawny predecessor but these slick moves fail to connect squarely in a sequel that hankers for the past.
Director Steven Caple Jr choreographs impressive sweat-drenched fight sequences between leading man Michael B Jordan and real-life German boxer Florian Munteanu – a hulking 6ft 4in man-mountain with eight-pack abs and a stone-cold stare to match his intimidating physical presence.
Inside the ring, the film is on sure footing and there are familiar bursts of adrenaline for us as well as the characters as they dig deep to overcome dizzying blows and achieve glorious destinies.
Away from the fisticuffs, Juel Taylor and Stallone’s wistful script raises its gloves to earlier films, most explicitly Rocky IV, in which Soviet Union brawler Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) delivered a fatal blow to Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) then faced Rocky Balboa (Stallone) on home soil.
“I must break you,” Drago growled at the American fighter shortly before the bell sounded on round one.
More than 30 years after that epic showdown, Ivan is living in ignominy in Kiev, haunted by defeat and the breakdown of his marriage to wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen).
In search of redemption, Ivan trains his only son Viktor (Munteanu), moulding his offspring into a perfect physical specimen and a fearsome contender for the heavyweight championship belt in the possession of Rocky’s protege, Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan).
“That kid was raised in hate,” Rocky warns Adonis, who arrogantly believes he can overcome Drago junior without the backing of his mentor and corner man.
Adonis prepares to defend his title with singer-songwriter fiancee Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and his mother (Phylicia Rashad) in his corner.
Seconds out and around the narrative houses we go…
Creed II lays on the tortured father-son dynamics with a trowel as Caple Jr ticks off a familiar list of tropes: Pre-match tension, a near-fatal setback, hard-fought rehabilitation, a graveside confessional and grandstand final showdown.
Jordan, Stallone and Thompson ease back into their comfortable roles while Lundgren has far richer dialogue for his second appearance as Drago.
He sparks winning screen chemistry with imposing newcomer Munteanu.
Syrupy romantic interludes between Adonis and Bianca, including an earnest marriage proposal (“You’re the only one I want to share my moments with!”), struggle to up the emotional stakes as the film slugs its way into an unnecessary third hour.
Source : HeraldScotland