I really liked Wreck-It Ralph because it was a magical film for several reasons. One of it was how Disney managed to corral several video game companies and got them to agree to co-exist in one film. As someone who likes video games, this was incredible to the same degree as how Who Framed Roger Rabbit? succeeded in getting animated characters from Disney and Warner Bros. in one film.
So, when I learned that Wreck-It Ralph’s sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, was going to be not focusing on the video game industry and channel making fun of the Internet, I was kind of disappointed. I wanted another adventure through video games but I was still hopeful that Ralph Breaks the Internet could bring in a good story. And, who knows? Maybe they could do something different with the Internet slant.
After watching the film, I will say that I enjoyed Ralph Breaks the Internet but, at the same time, I do feel let down by it.
Before I go into detail, let me just say that this will be a SPOILER FREE review. I know the film has been out for quite a while so many of you have already seen it. But on the off chance you haven’t but want to know my thoughts, once again, this is going to be totally SPOILER FREE.
Ralph Breaks the Internet takes place around six years after the events of Wreck-It Ralph. Ralph and Vanellope have become close friends and have settled down to a routine of sorts. When a mishap happens leads to the Sugar Rush arcade machine getting damaged, Ralph and Vanellope dart over to the Internet to try to find the missing part to save Vanellope’s video game.
Well, that’s how the film starts out anyway. While the theme of trying to repair Sugar Rush is the thing that drives the characters initially, it’s actually kind of a Macguffin so that Ralph and Vanelope can explore the large and strange world that is the World Wide Web. It’s an excuse for Ralph and Vanelope to go to
websites locations like eBay, a YouTube analog, a Grand Theft Auto online simile and, of course, Disney’s official website… because Disney owns everything and is our almighty overlord that rules everything.
These are really amazing Easter Eggs and they’re done really creatively. The entire Disney scene is well done. There are also nice little winks to older audiences, such as ways to make money by collecting virtual items on video games, open chat rooms being dead and there’s even a reference to pop-up blockers. They also do poke fun at a couple of current memes and I do feel that some of these references will feel dated in a decade or so, though. Still, I do appreciate the level of detail to today’s Internet conventions.
This level of detail extends to the visuals and Ralph Breaks the Internet looks really good. I really liked how they made the people’s Internet avatar look like blocky versions of themselves. I also appreciate how they made the “active” websites look bright and colorful while the more “shady” sites a little more dingy and dark. However, I will say that I expected a little more insanity in the world as things do look a little too sterile for my liking. Also, none of the more notorious parts of the Internet, such as trolls, are really featured. I’m not asking it to be grim or anything like that. I just wished they poked fun at something that we all know that happens in the Internet.
Of course, since this is the sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph is back once again and still voiced by John C. Reilly. I really like his performance here as there’s this “lovable buffoon” kind of quality in John C. Reilly’s performance that’s just a perfect fit for Ralph. As much as I like John C. Reilly’s deliverly, it’s Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope that really takes the cake for me as she gives off a fantastic performance once again. Her vocal performance is amazing as she gives Vanellope kind of a scratchy inflection that sounds incredibly unique. Oh, and Sarah Silverman also sings in the film… with the same scratchy pitch!
Ralph Breaks the Internet does tend to focus on those two characters, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, this does mean that a lot of the supporting cast are shoved to the side for the majority of the film’s 112-minute runtime. Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch return as Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun, respectively, but only appear in a couple of scenes.
The new characters introduced in Ralph Breaks the Internet fair only slightly better. Gal Gadot plays Shank, one of the characters from Slaughter Race, a Grand Theft Auto clone, while Taraji P. Henson is Yesss, a computer algorithm that checks for trending videos in BuzzzTube, this universe’s version of YouTube. Their performances are generally good but they’re never really given anything of substance. They’re there to facilitate the movement of the plot and don’t feel like characters with any staying power as a result.
The weakest part of Ralph Breaks the Internet is, sadly, the overall plot and flow of the story. It may seem odd to say but you kind of have to throw what you know about how programs work to fully enjoy the film because Shank and Yesss do a couple of things that feel… convenient to the plot.
Let me put it this way: I don’t think computer programs and AI are advanced enough to actually take pictures or video clips by themselves. Nor do I think they can perform things like video editing by themselves. It was these little inconsistencies that took me out of the film experience for a couple of minutes. They may seem like nitpicks but they did bother me and they wouldn’t have if I was fully invested in the overall plot.
The plot itself just wasn’t as tight as the first film and I think that’s why I didn’t fully enjoy Ralph Breaks the Internet: I was consistently comparing it to Wreck-It Ralph. I was more enamored with the worlds, characters and settings of the first film and Ralph Breaks the Internet, while still being a good movie, didn’t feel as charming as Wreck-It Ralph. Basically, it wasn’t as good as the first movie.
That’s not to say Ralph Breaks the Internet is a bad movie. It’s actually pretty good. There are some clever moments and the ones behind the movie did show that they understood Internet culture, albeit a rather whitewashed version of it. I still say Ralph Breaks the Internet is a good watch but I don’t expect it to break into any Top 10 movies of all time, let alone the Internet.
Have you seen Ralph Breaks the Internet? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!