Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” (2018) Review

IMAGE: Disney, Wikipedia.org

He’s gonna wreck it, all right…

PLOT – 

One of the slower plots in the Canon, Ralph Breaks the Internet is also a betrayal of its characters. The start of the film has the characters searching for something to do out of boredom, and entering the internet. This presents several problems that deviates from the rules set in the original film (leaving your game resulting in death or the game malfunctioning), yet none of these problems are part of the conflict at all. Ralph has strangely grown clingy to Vanellope, and while Vanellope finally found her place in Sugar Rush, she, for some reason, is searching for more in life.

While the film has a through-line with their friendship and finding a new part for the game, the plot can be split up into several different sections of varied tones.  The film acts more like episodes of a show rather than a cohesive whole. In parts, this film could have been better as a miniseries, but trying to tie everything together makes this film a bloated mess. The addition of internet memes and some trends also dates the film, sadly. One thing I did like about the plot was the Princess scene, and the song afterwards. Disney works well when self-parodying and referencing itself. It’s not enough to save this plot though.

My PLOT RATING is 4 / 10.

CHARACTERS – 

Ralph (John C. Reilley) is a conflicted character. While he can be called a ‘good guy’ and a ‘hero’ in the first film, this film turns those terms on their heads. Here, he seeks fame, attention, and the companionship of Vanellope, but doesn’t leave her side. This is an interesting turn for the character (Ralph barely skirts the line between hero and villain at points) but jarring coming after the first film. I do enjoy the various ‘hats’ Ralph wears here, but I just can’t shake the feeling that his character is being used as a tool for the plot. I do appreciate his maturity during the climax of the film though.

Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) is more of a protagonist than the title character. We watch her go through an emotional journey of self-discovery and finding her place in life. Again though, this betrays the character from the first film. She worked so hard to finally get back into Sugar Rush and now she’s bored? I do appreciate her new struggle to find a place where she belongs, but it now seems like she enters new worlds and just tosses them aside when bored.

JP Spamley (Bill Hader) shows up earlier in the film, and plays a larger part later. He is initially a huckster trying to get pop-up ads to users, but really is kind of a sweet guy that cares about his customers. He and his assistant, Gord, are some of my favorite characters in the film. Gord is silent but has some humorously creepy moments. Near the end, their friend, Double Dan (Alfred Molina) is the source of a fun comedy bit involving his conjoined brother. He’s the closest character this film has to a traditional villain, as he creates Arthur the Virus (John Dimaggio), an eel-like cyclops with an incredibly cool design.

Shank (Gal Gadot) is a character that the film doesn’t really need. The allure of Slaughter Race should be enough. It’s nice to have another racer character in the mix for chase scenes, but her character seems like filler and her function can be performed by anyone else in the film. Gal Gadot’s flat line delivery also doesn’t really help matters either.

Knowsmore (Alan Tudyk) is a search engine that doubles as a throwback to the old UPA style of animation. The voice is also a sendup to Droopy Dog with a touch of sarcasm and slight biting wit. The whole character is just fantastic.

Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) is an underused character. As the algorithm of Buzzztube, she is the one who helps decide what to recommend to users. She takes a liking to Ralph, and actively wants to help his cause. Her design is also vibrant and exciting, with a large fur jacket, transparent lens-only glasses, and mohawk hairstyle, all in a bright blue.

The Princesses (Pamela Ribon – Snow White, Jennifer Hale – Cinderella, Kate Higgins – Aurora, Same Voice Actors – The Rest) are the best part of the film. They perfectly capture what the princesses would be like just hanging out. They all are basically ripped from their popular culture interpretations, and actually have a point where they team up using their most recognized accessories. It’s very simple and almost boiler-plate, but it’s the best and most streamlined interpretation of the princesses I’ve seen. My biggest want after seeing this is wanting a Disney Princess ‘Avengers’ film, and I hope Disney does it soon.

My CHARACTERS RATING is 6 / 10.

DIALOGUE – 

The dialogue here is strangely immature and simple in the beginning, and too jargon-filled at other points. There are also several moments of explaining the plot and trying to keep the audience informed. The original jokes are also not that great, opting to rely mostly on reference humor instead.

My DIALOGUE RATING is 5 / 10.

EFFECTS – 

The effects are as always, excellent, but here, it’s too much of a good thing. Once the internet is entered, it becomes a cluttered mess of buildings, characters, and colors that often diverts focus. The amount of details here are just too enormous to catch on a first viewing. I appreciate the wide variety of strange facial expressions though. The lighting is also amazing, with everything having some kind of glow to it. The characters are also designed well and have unique designs to tell users from characters within the internet.

My EFFECTS RATING is 8 / 10.

MUSIC – 

Henry Jackman returns to the score here, injecting reminders of his previous themes and injecting new life into them as well. Video-gamey instruments as well as orchestra music blends well, and familiar Disney and Star Wars themes are peppered in to make a cohesive score.

“Zero” (Imagine Dragons) – A repetitive song about trying to be better than your station, and sharing your plight with others. It kind of relates to the main plot, but it’s pretty rote in how it presents itself. The lyrics are quite sad despite its upbeat tone.

“A Place Called Slaughter Race” (Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Cast) – A hysterical Broadway take on the Disney Princess song, specifically the ‘I Want’ Song. It hits all the hallmarks that any classic Disney song should, and has a lot of visual and verbal jokes. Silverman sings it excellently, with a dash of ‘this isn’t my forte so I’ll have fun with it’.

“In This Place” (Julia Michaels) – Starts out pretty strong, but devolves into a cut-and-paste song, where various syllables are modified and aligned with the beats. The verses and the bridge are great here, but the choruses are mangled by the vocal modification. Michaels also sounds like she’s phoning it in at points.

My MUSIC RATING is 7 / 10.

OVERALL – 

While I liked the first film, Ralph Breaks the Internet makes most, if not all of the wrong decisions. In a way, even existing makes a mark on the franchise. I was excited initially when I first heard about this film, but after seeing it, I was very… Whelmed. It felt like a cheap cash grab for current popularity, and a betrayal of the characters and world set up in the first film. The plot goes back on several previously established rules and feels more like hopping from stone to stone instead of walking along a solid path. I feel like they were trying to cram way too many ideas and characters into one film (this may have been better as a tv series, actually). There is a main point to be made as a moral, but it’s way too heavy-handed, even for Disney.

The main characters are also vastly different from before, and Felix and Calhoun are sidelined except for brief appearances at the beginning and end (giving one of few solid jokes). The new characters are good, but lack the memorable qualities of other Disney side characters because they’re used then immediately sidelined for the next character. Sure, some of them come back later on, but they all seem like they’re moving the plot along artificially rather than organically.

The dialogue is either immature jokes, or explaining the plot and concepts to the audience. The effects and music are the best things about the film, even though the screen can become too cluttered at times, and the lyrical music during the credits is lackluster despite a good score.

Ultimately, this is a failed jump on the trend bandwagon. Disney even tried to make fun of themselves, which succeeded, but the rest falls flat and will become dated in time. This film may have tainted the reputation of the Wreck-It Ralph franchise for some, including myself, but as for you, Disney…

I’m never gonna give you up.

IMAGE: Disney, Charactercentral.net

My OVERALL RATING for Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is 60%.

Next time…

Frozen Boogaloo…

Nah, wait…

Frozen Igloogaloo!

Ah? Ah? It’s good, right?

Stay tuned….

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