As many sequels throughout the history of film have shown us, bigger is almost never better. Rarely does "bigger" even translate to "as good as the original." These sequels that try to outdo their predecessors often throw all of the charm of the original film to the wind in favor of a bolder new adventure with characters that audiences are already attached to. Honestly, it really sucks most of the time, as the result can be a mess that lacks the fun of a franchise that you once held out so much hope for. This is why I was so terrified of Ralph Breaks the Internet, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about.
Disney's original Wreck-It Ralph film was one of the studio's most charming outings, and a lot of the appeal was in its retro simplicity. The bad guy of an arcade game didn't want to be so bad anymore, and he ended up participating in several games that were connected to the same power strip. Simple, fun, relatable, and full of heart. Instead of returning to that, the sequel takes its two leading characters into the vast depths of the Internet, arguably going as big as one could possibly go. I was as nervous as I could possibly be for Ralph Breaks the Internet, because Disney was taking a movie that I loved so deeply, and turning it into the grabbiest of all cash grabs. Or so I thought.
Yes, Ralph Breaks the Internet is much bigger than Wreck-It Ralph, and I hesitate to say that it's actually "better." But at the very least it's on par with the original, proving that going big can, on a few rare occasions, actually be a good thing.
Despite going bolder and bigger this time around, the premise is simple enough: After the steering wheel for Sugar Rush breaks, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) and Ralph (John C. Reilly) head into the Internet to find eBay and get a new part sent back to the arcade, saving all of the Sugar Rush characters for good. Of course, once the characters actually make their way to the World Wide Web, they learn just how vast and dangerous this online universe can be.
First and foremost, before I say anything else about the story, heart, characters, or anything else, I need to point out the sheer brilliance of the animation and visual effects teams that worked on Ralph Breaks the Internet. No exaggeration, this film is easily the biggest visual achievement from Walt Disney Animation Studios to date. Period. End of discussion. Every single shot of the Internet is seemingly endless, but there are so many gorgeous tidbits tucked into every nook and cranny. The racing scenes are on par with Pixar's latest Cars film and the animations of the characters themselves are second-to-none. Even if this movie wasn't well-written or well-performed, it would be worth the price of admission just to look at the visuals. To call it beautiful would be a vast understatement.
As for the rest of the movie, Ralph Breaks the Internet keeps pace with the first adventure in the franchise. Both Reilly and Silverman bring their "A" game, as do Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Taraji P. Henson, Gal Gadot, and Bill Hader. From top to bottom, this cast propels the heart of their characters to the forefront, reminding you why you fell in love with them in the first place. Most of the cast was able to be in the studio together, and it really shows in this film. Their interactions and ad-libs feel so genuine, in a way that very few animated films actually do. It's a truly wonderful effort from an all-star ensemble.
The addition of the Disney Princesses is a touch that every fan of the House of Mouse will greatly appreciate, especially considering it never feels forced or out of place. The meeting of Vanellope and these other princesses is very real and organic, and it will bring audible cheers in the theater.
While the visuals are stunning, the cast is next-level charming, and the Disney scenes are incredibly memorable, the real superstars of Ralph Breaks the Internet are behind the scenes. The creative team of Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, and Pamela Ribon craft something truly special with this film. They take something so volatile and treacherous like the Internet and turn it into a heart-warming adventure that both adults and children can enjoy. However, they don't shy away from saying that everything wonderful also has its dangers, and that there's a balance to everything in life. It's not often you find that sort of message in a family movie, but Ralph Breaks the Internet manages to toe the line with perfection.0comments
At the end of the day, you'll find flaws in Ralph Breaks the Internet, things about the structure or story of the film will bother some. But just like the first Wreck-It Ralph, this movie has no shortage of heart, and you'll want to watch it again and again.
Disney's Ralph Breaks the Internet hits theaters on November 21st.