Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet


Amanda Ebner, Contributor

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Disney has released another film for families to enjoy. This time, the November release is none other than “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” a sequel to 2012’s “Wreck it Ralph.” The new film follows Ralph, the good-natured “bad guy” of a retro arcade game, and his best friend Vanellope, a glitchy young racer. Together they journey through the newly installed Wi-Fi router to get a steering wheel replacement for Vanellope’s game.

Like the first film, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” really shines through worldbuilding. The movie brings the world of the internet to life in a way that matches up with the way the internet appears in real life, while also managing to be fun to watch the characters run around in. Every detail, from the appearance of the internet denizens to the way they navigate the World Wide Web, is carefully designed. The animators also made interesting choices when portraying the apps and websites that are the windows into this virtual world.

The portrayal of real apps is another strength of the film. Facebook, Twitter, Google and other well-known sites all make an appearance. The animators took care to distinguish each app in their world from each other. Most of these ideas are simple: Facebook is a giant book, Twitter is made up of chirping birds, etc. What makes this stand out is that it’s limited. Users of these apps will enjoy a glimpse at a physical manifestation of these apps, but it is just that. The movie avoids focusing on these real-world apps for more than a few seconds of screen time.

Promotional image for “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

Instead, the only apps that get more than a passing reference are the ones vital to the plot. This not only gives the filmmakers the freedom to design their main set pieces the way they want, but it also ensures the worldbuilding doesn’t come across as product placement.

One aspect of this movie that caught the real-life internet by storm was the princess scene, where Vanellope stumbles into a dressing room on Disney’s website that contains all the ladies of the official Disney Princess lineup. Fans of the scene will be pleased to see that it is extended in the full film — having an actual influence on the plot. The scene isn’t a simple cameo to get some laughs; although, it does crack a few jokes throughout the sequence. The appearance of the princesses may be brief, but it is important in the progression of one character’s arc.

As is par for the course in Disney animated films, the animated quality stands out. In the climatic scenes of the film, the attention to small details that other animators might not have included makes the whole movie stronger.

Disney animation is also known for its high-quality storytelling, and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is no exception. Every problem the characters face is a direct result of their actions. For example, the broken steering wheel, which Vanellope and Ralph attempt to replace, is broken by the actions taken by Vanellope and Ralph. There are a number of times when the protagonists actively go out and make their problems worse — wrongly thinking it will help. Viewers of the first film will note that the conflict and character in this film are logical next steps from what came before. In addition, the story thrives on making the audience connect and feel for the characters, which makes it all the more emotional when something goes awry.

Venellope being chased by Storm Troopers from the “Star Wars” franchise.

Yet the story isn’t perfect. Certain aspects of the plot will a tad too predictable for an adult audience, and the actual climax of the movie is fairly weak. There was even one part of the film that stood out as being indicative of something missing. There seemed to be a setup early on with some of the characters from the first movie for a subplot, but instead, they didn’t appear again until the end scene when the resolving of the issue was mentioned in one casual line. It seemed like there was a subplot in place, but when the movie’s run time was too long, it was cut completely.

The movie’s run time is another issue. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” lasts just under two hours, which feels just a little bit too long for a family comedy. It isn’t long enough to have a negative impact on the overall moviegoer experience, but particularly impatient audience members may start to feel a bit antsy by the time the movie concludes.

The main character of the film, Wreck It Ralph.

While overly spelled out at times, the movie’s themes are sure to evoke an emotional reaction in the audience. Though the movie is marketed mostly for kids, the messages of growth and letting go ring true as an important lesson for all ages.

Between this, and the bittersweet ending, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is one of the most emotional sequels Disney has released in a long time. Despite its flaws, it’s a worthy watch for kids and adults alike.