Following some six years after the 2012 original, Disney Animation’s Wreck-It Ralph 2 doesn’t hold back or play shy about its status as an unabashed sequel: it promises everything that earned its original 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, but more. More references, more allusions, and more humour derived from the culture of gaming and the internet promise an audiovisual ride infused with wit and relevance, however disposable and prone to becoming outdated it and its product placements might end up being.
The first twenty seconds comprising the opening scene is accompanied by a gentle upper-range, 8-bit sounding swell of strings punctuated by a thundering orchestral hit, which leads unexpectedly into the vocal of Daft Punk’s now-class 2001 electronica hit “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” The title and lyrical themes of the song itself arguably allude to the promise of abundance and morethat Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) encounter as they journey from their quaint network of arcade machines into the vastness of the open information highway.
Daft Punk’s lyrics appear to comment on the vast cityscape, the twittering birds of Twitter, and Ralph’s own awe-inspired commentary, suggesting “our” (i.e. the internet’s) “work is never over.”
The second half of the trailer opens after the title card for the date (“this thanksgiving”) with a straight, un-cut scene of a personified auto-completing search bar, introduced musically by the decidedly cliché digitized piano version of Boccherini’s minuet. The music cuts out, much in the fashion of most comedic trailers, to deliver the punchline at 1:06. The scholar’s suggestions are peppered with references from or relating to the world of Disney.
Disney is taking the opportunity to flaunt its media empire all under one tent in this trailer as Ralph and Vanellope are taken to a site called “Oh My Disney”; Winnie the Pooh, Star Wars, the Muppets, Marvel, and Pixar all make cameos as Daft Punk comes roaring back, again reinforcing the idea that Wreck-It Ralph 2is a concerted and measured experiment in its own excess.
A final scene almost gleefully interrogates Disney’s own sexist past, pitting Vanellope – in many ways, though not all, a progressive aberration in the studio’s lineage of representations of disempowered women – in conversation with many of Disney’s princess characters across its franchises.
Especially given that “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” was itself part of a viral hit on YouTube over ten years ago, this trailer’s musical choice is well in keeping with the original film’s apparent aim to appeal to kids while suitably entertaining an older demographic through a smart play to nostalgia.
– Curtis Perry