Ralph Breaks the Internet is a great sequel that packs a punch with humor, action and a great message. This time we follow Ralph and Vanellope as they leave the familiar world of their arcade and journey into the unknown world of the internet. Does this second installment live up to the first or does it fall short in its grander ambitions?
Be warned: There are major plot spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to have the story revealed, turn back now.
Last chance …
OK, on to the full review.
Overall, Ralph Breaks the Internet is an enjoyable movie that may contain more overall laughs than the first film. Its message, which is one of friendship, letting go and following your dreams, hits hard and is a great reminder for audiences of all ages.
Just like the original, this movie is incredibly clever. The manner in which the internet is conveyed is frankly brilliant, with users having avatars that visit physical locations around the internet. The movie avoids the pitfall of leaning too heavily on modern references or spending too much time on websites that may not survive the test of time.
We catch brief glimpses of Instagram (conveyed as an art museum), Twitter (literal birds tweeting) and eBay (a physical auction house). Despite the countless references and details tucked around the screen, the movie spends most of its time between websites and in the fictional game Slaughter Race.
The clear highlight for Disney fans is a visit to Oh My Disney and the scene featuring all of the Disney princesses. This scene was revealed in the trailer, but its far better in its entirety. It doesn’t consume the film, but based on the reaction in our theater, viewers wanted more and wished it lasted longer. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just a throwaway scene either. The princesses play a fun role near the end of the film too.
Where the movie thrives is in exploring the internet and the amazingly clever way its depicted. Seeing behind the curtain of what’s apparently happening when we are online is a blast. But, where the movie slows down some is when the main message of the plot is a bit heavy-handed.
That main message, Ralph realizing that he’s a bit clingy and isn’t letting Vanellope live out her dreams, is reached well before the end of the movie. However, it’s driven home a bit too many times before the finale. The idea that there isn’t a true villain in the movie and that Ralph himself actually is being the bad guy is a great idea. How we arrive at that conclusion, and what happens after we arrive at that point, seems like the result of some sloppy editing. Show don’t tell. Ralph and Vanellope breaking down the situation and what’s wrong after viewers have figured it out brings things to a crawl.
As Ralph tries to halt Vanellope’s goals with a nasty virus, the movie almost takes on a bizarre tone. In an homage to King Kong, a giant Ralph created entirely from Ralph clones is one of the more unsettling sights in recent Disney movies. It’s an interesting idea, but the wiggling, squirming “skin” of the giant Ralph is pretty gross. It doesn’t help that the dialogue during this portion is the third or fourth time the topic of letting Vanellope go has been covered.
Our biggest complaint is that though the film’s message – letting your best friends be themselves and following your heart – is an outstanding one, the repetitive nature in how the main conflict is resolved weakens its overall impact. Still, the fun journey through the internet more than makes up for those missteps.
We give Ralph Breaks the Internet an 8/10.
Note: There are two scenes after the movie concludes – one mid-credits scene and one all the way at the end. The first is a nice meta joke about one of the film’s trailers and the other is a perfect troll. It wouldn’t be the internet without a troll, right?