‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ breaks anything but expectations
Could this be the downfall of the Disney revival era?
Walt Disney Animation Studios is back with their newest animated feature, “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” The first sequel Disney has done since “Fantasia 2000,” the film is a follow up to one of the most surprising hits of their revival era, 2012’s “Wreck-It-Ralph.” A film which many thought would be a shameless video game crossover, but ended up becoming a heartwarming and creatively animated tale with some unforgettable characters. But can Ralph work magic again, or is the only wreck here a train wreck?
The sequel follows Ralph and Vanellope who are enjoying their time in the arcade as best friends when Vanellope’s game breaks. It is up to the dynamic duo to venture into the expansive world of the internet to find the piece to fix her game. However, in their journeys throughout the web, one of them may have second thoughts about returning home.
Without a doubt, this is easily the weakest of the films to come out of the revival era that Disney has been going on since the release of 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog.” The plot is simply a mess. It is scattered, disjointed and poorly paced as our main characters venture in and out of various websites and games to trying to achieve their mission. It makes the viewing experience mind-numbing to sit through, and it doesn’t help that the film fills up its runtime with various cameos, references and product placements that already feel dated.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the film had incorporated some clever commentary regarding its environment — much like 2016’s “Zootopia,” despite making similar references to modern day trends, kept things interesting by adding in analysis of racial and ethnic relationships. However, this is sadly not the case with “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” as any opportunity the film has to shed light on issues regarding online culture are largely smothered and come out feeling, as sad as it is to say, Disneyfied in the process. In particular, there’s scene where Ralph learns a lesson regarding social media comments, but it felt more like a checklist item to include in the film rather than an emotional moment.
The film wants to illustrate the toxicity a close friendship can birth. This commentary is most effective towards the third act where a very powerful visual metaphor of this is used as a last minute antagonist, followed by a refreshing ending. However, there is little room for interpretation through the rest of the picture as the characters shove the message down the audiences’ throat in insultingly lazy ways that feels tedious throughout.
With all that said, the film does have its highlights. As can be expected with Disney, the animation is great. Much like the first film, the animators get creative with the visual interpretation of the internet as well as the designs and movements of the characters, while still going in heavy with the detail to bring out some stellar work. The voice acting is mostly solid (Gal Gadot won’t be getting any awards for this role) and many of the characters, old and new, are likable — despite much of the older cast receiving limited screen time.
Speaking of characters, it is worth mentioning the role the highly anticipated Disney princesses play within the film. Without giving much away, their part in the film, while feeling forced at times, still remained a major highlight. A majority of their first scene is already spoiled in the trailer, but a later sequence in the final act featuring them is worth seeing.
However, it’s not enough to fully save this one. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is bound to entertain younger viewers and average audience members, but for those expecting the same exceptional storytelling and characters the company has been known for for so long now, this is a major disappointment. Will this spell the downfall of the Disney revival era? Who knows, but for the time being, this sequel won’t do much except wreck the hearts of fans everywhere.