Movie Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet
(Disclaimer: This review does contain spoilers. You have been warned.)
Ralph Breaks the Internet is arguably a simply structured film on the surface that aims to wow all of us with the wonders of the internet while the duo races against time to find a missing part. However, once you start to peel the layers from the story and dig deeper into the character development that director Rich Moore and co-director Phil Johnston have crafted for us, the film reveals a deeper truth about humanity and relationships more than I think any of us would have thought to have tackled in a film about video game characters and the internet.
Ralph Breaks the Internet starts off in Litwak’s video arcade with video game bad guy Ralph (John C. Reilly) and glitchy video game princess Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) discussing life. The audience quickly figures out that Vanellope is bored with life, but Ralph feels that everything is perfect. It doesn’t take long though for things to go awry. One thing leads to another and soon Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush, breaks down. Our leading characters now have to deal with the threat of Sugar Rush being tossed out forever if they cannot get the replacement part in a week. This prompts the duo to hunt down the only replacement part online. Of course, shenanigans ensue as the pair explore the great expanse that is the Internet.
In a hilarious scene that reveals to Ralph and Vanellope that they’ll need money to acquire the part that they need, they are sent on a wild goose chase to hunt down exclusive items on the internet in exchange for money. This introduces to Vanellope an alternative to the life she led in the arcade when she has to steal Shank’s (Gal Gadot) car from the popular web game Slaughter Race. The lack of rules and structure in the game taps into the unpredictability that her soul needs, but Ralph is not on the same wavelength. This is where we start to see the beginnings of the fracture in their relationship. Needing to come up with a safer way to earn money, Shank points the duo to Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), the head algorithm of the viral star launching site “BuzzzTube”.
Upon realizing that Ralph has viral potential on the Web, Yesss and Ralph put their heads together to figure out exciting and creative ways to increase his marketability so he can earn money to buy Vanellope’s part. Vanellope eventually gets sent to advertise Ralph’s viral videos on Oh My Disney’s website, which is what ends up leading to a much-needed meeting between Vanellope and all of Disney’s classical and modern princesses. These princesses impart on her their wisdom since she is still seeking what her life’s true purpose is. Unfortunately, this is as far as I’ll go with the plot because to talk any more of it would do a considerable disservice to the lessons that you’ll be able to unpack while watching the film.
Prior to watching this film, I did have some concerns about whether or not certain factors featured in the movie would make or break the film. Because of the significant focus placed on the inclusion of the Disney princesses in Ralph Breaks the Internet, I was concerned about how much their inclusion would take away from the overall plot. As you can understand, I was far more interested in seeing the further developed relationship between Ralph and Vanellope and didn’t want there to be constant cuts to the princesses as the trailers so adequately displayed. However, my concerns disappeared after seeing the film. For as much attention as the marketing team gave the princesses, their part in the film is rather brief but vital to pushing Vanellope towards realizing who she is and what she wants in life.
Another concern I had was whether or not the utilization of the Internet as a focus in the film would prove to be an unrelenting gimmick. However, the inclusion of the Internet as a plot device as well as a giant playground setting for our favorite characters to play in proved to be an excellent choice. Take into account that both Ralph and Vanellope are video game characters that aren’t considered relevant to the Internet world that exists in Ralph Breaks the Internet and we get to see how the Internet can be interpreted behind new eyes. Forcing them to engage in the Internet also pushed their character development in a way that it would not have naturally progressed if they were left to deal with life in the Arcade.
As was the case in Wreck-it Ralph, the cast is all extraordinarily well rounded with no one noticeably trying to hog the glory in this chapter. The newest additions to the cast blend in seamlessly with the veterans but didn’t blend so much as to completely disappear from the audience’s perspective. Gal Gadot’s Shank serves her supporting role with an infinite wisdom that comes with living life, fitting well into the role as Vanellope’s mentor. Alan Tudyk returns but voicing this time the lovably helpful Knowsmore. I will always say this when it comes to Tudyk, but I wish we could hear him more. Taraji P. Henson’s Yesss combines electronic savvy with helpful sass, delivering a multi-faceted performance for a character that could have easily been played in a less satisfying, one-dimensional manner. You’ll understand what I mean when you guys go to see the film.
Disney continues to shine with its animation and this is apparent in Ralph Breaks the Internet. One of the concerns that I had was how the creative team was going to be able to create a version of the Internet that was technologically on point with the public’s idea of the Internet while also preventing it from being overpoweringly cheesy. And it is with confidence that I say that they managed to create a fun and exciting interpretation of the internet that aims to entertain rather than overwhelm us with its existence. In terms of the technical prowess of the animation style, there is one particular climatic moment in the film where you get to see the full scale of how much rendering technology has advanced. Such care and attention to detail was taken in the scene to ensure that there was no overlap in the sequence that it was hard not to notice. Disney pulls out all the stops to ensure that they deliver a beautifully animated product full of character and heart.
Overall, I think that Ralph Breaks the Internet is a great companion to Wreck-it Ralph. The film ultimately serves as a love letter to the natural growth and development of friendships, reminding us all that relationships of all kinds are messy as people mature and grow. The concerns I had prior to seeing the film concerning the usage of the Internet as a plot point and the over saturation of Disney properties in one place have been completely put to rest. I do recommend re-watching Wreck-it Ralph prior to seeing Ralph Breaks the Internet in theaters depending on how much you remember the previous film. It can serve to help the audience connect more to the already established relationships in the film.
Ralph Breaks the Internet premieres in theaters on November 21, 2018. We here at Legion of Leia highly recommend you seeing the film. It serves as a great sequel to its predecessor.