Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

WARNING: Potential Spoilers Ahead

4.0 / 5.0

220px-Ralph_Breaks_the_Internet_(2018_film_poster)

The sequel to the underappreciated Wreck-It Ralph follows in its predecessor’s footsteps by delivering an experience that truly appeals to viewers of all ages, showing that you can make an entertaining children’s film that has depth, satire, and social commentary.

The film looks beautiful, and the journey of Vanellope and Ralph through the internet is presented in a fun and whimsical fashion. Many moments seem to draw a lot from other films, especially Ready Player One, but due to its often satirical tone and tendency to parody other movies, it warrants a pass for the borrowed aspects.

Despite 5 years passing since I last saw Wreck It Ralph, I was instantly invested and transported by the opening scene with Ralph and Vanellope, drawn in not by visual spectacle and action, but instead by complex well portrayed characters. In a blockbuster world where style is forced over substance and story, as studios chase profit by creating franchises, it was refreshing to watch a sequel that prioritized the characters, developing emotional connections and narrative arcs first. The only thing that took me out of the film was when Disney stopped to gloat over owning a massive chunk of the entertainment world.

When the movie gets to its action, jokes, and references, they feel earned since I truly care about Ralph and Vanellope, and enjoy seeing them interact in this new universe. Furthermore, as the plot develops, the writers keep the focus on the characters. Not only do they avoid chasing the macguffin, but the film intentionally sets up several quests as diversions, only to subvert them in the end when it reveals that the real villain the entire time is Ralph’s insecurity, toxic possessiveness, and resistance to change.

In addition to the main theme of toxic insecurity and control, there is the poignant message when the refugees from Sugar Rush need empathy, support, and provision from the other characters. The commentaries on the sexist treatment of previous Disney princesses is also effective, although awkward when you realize Disney is making the commentary to continue to sell merchandise for its problematic properties. Overall the film avoids the overt and cliche winks to the camera, while simultaneously retaining the impact of its underlying messages. 

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