Ralph Breaks the Internet Review

Sequels tend widen the scope of the films that precede them, to tell a story using the same characters but on a grander stage. Taking Wreck-It Ralph out of Litwak’s retro arcade and into the vastness of the Internet might be among the more dramatic leaps of any sequel, and it makes “Ralph Breaks the Internet” among Disney’s most ambitious undertakings.

As with 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph,” the sequel absolutely sparkles with visual and storytelling creativity. It also proudly carries on its purpose of demolishing stereotypes and assumptions. As Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) venture out into the Internet in hopes of saving Vanellope’s Sugar Rush game from being unplugged, both the artistic canvas and the storytelling canvas increase exponentially in size. Personifying the Internet as a bustling high-tech metropolis could not have been easy; that directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, along with a large story team, build it out with very minimal glaring holes in logic should count as a big win.

The production imagines nearly every (PG-rated) corner of the Internet. From online gaming where Vanellope befriends the formidable racing gang boss, Shank (Gal Gadot), to the vanity contest of BuzzTube videos, to characters who walk around and try to bait users with pop-ups and ads, “Ralph” reveals the glory and the warts of the Internet, albeit at an introductory level.

Even amidst all that world-building, the producers and story writers understand that core to everything is the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope, but the expansiveness of the setting and the intimacy of the friendship are on such dramatically different scales and are often at odds with one another. The film explores more nuanced themes of friendship while striving for the emotional tug that the 2012 original so beautifully architected. Those notes feel a little too forced in the sequel, a more frantic attempt to anchor the film’s sheer volume in some semblance of simplicity.

That said, the overwhelming majority of what makes “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” so entertaining is the creative ingenuity. Disney and Pixar have a reputation for meticulous world-building, and the “Ralph” films are among the gold standard of the work, probably right alongside Pixar’s “Inside Out.” So much joy comes from watching the characters discover this world and seeing the ways in which the team behind this film has brought the amorphous concept of “the Internet” to life. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” articulates our daily experience using the web in humorous ways we’ve never previously considered.

Bolstered by the original’s terrific voice casting (and some top choices for new character), as well as an incredible cameo by the Disney princesses, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” still stands above the standard for digital animation storytelling, even if it doesn’t quite match “Wreck-It Ralph” in several categories.

3.5/5 Stars

Ralph Breaks the Internet
Directed by Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Written by Phil Johnston & Pamela Ribon (screenplay), Phil Johnston & Rich Moore and Jim Reardon, Pamela Ribon, and Josie Trinidad
Starring (voices): John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot


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