Watson Reviews: Ralph Breaks the Internet (Spoiler Free)

With the partnership and later acquisition of Pixar, legacy Disney Animation took second chair to their sister division that revolutionized computer animation. The traditional animation division of the legendary entertainment dynasty was even under the threat of shuttering as Pixar dominated the Best Animated Feature Oscar competition year after year.

With pressure to justify its $8B purchase price, Pixar began to focus more on merchandising than originality and started pumping out subpar sequels and disappointments.  In this moment, legacy Disney Animation seemed to find its voice.

The studio got with the times and switched from hand-drawn animation to the modern age, and churned out smash hits such as Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Wreck It Ralph.  Now those films are entering THEIR sequel period, so the question is whether they can avoid the same problem we have seen in the last decade with Pixar.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

We return to the secret lives of video game characters and what they do when the arcade closes.  Our hero Ralph, a villain in his game who learned to care in the first installment, is now hanging out with his best friend, Sugar Rush racer Vanellope .

When the Sugar Rush game is broken, Ralph fears that Vanellope will be without her pixelated home and journeys with her to the Internet to try to find the magical land of eBay to order a new part for the game before it is sold for scrap.

There, the pair learns that the internet can be a scary place. Welcome to the 21st Century, Ralph and Vanellope!

WHAT WORKED:

  • The Disney Princesses steal the show! They show some of the scene in the trailers but lmore than enough for you to enjoy for the first time in the theater.  Princess Vanellope takes her rightful place alongside Snow White, Cinderella, and the other great animated princesses, and snarkiness ensues.  These scenes are practically worth the price of the ticket, as Sarah Silverman (A Million Ways to Die in the West) steals the show as the wonderful Vanellope.
  • The animation is gorgeous! Both films have had rich environments, whether video games or the internet, that allowed the animators to show off their skills.  The visuals in the sequel exceed even the rich and beautiful effects of the first film.
  • The Internet was a nice choice as a follow up. Disney effectively mined the video game world in the first film, so the internet was a nice choice for the sequel. The way they brought the web into the story was organic and really worked well.  You kind of see what the Emoji movie could have been if it wasn’t, instead, a crime against humanity.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

  • It wasn’t quite as good as the first one. By the second film, Ralph’s transformation is already complete and he’s just a nice, well adjusted guy.  His journey of discovery in the first film made it a little bit better, and this film did have a little bit of a sequel problem as a result.
  • Ralph was kind of bland.  Ralph’s lack of conflict hurt him in this film, so it is good that Vanellope picked up the slack.  She was very much the star of this movie and Ralph always felt like he was interfering in her story.  There were times where I thought Disney should have borrowed a page from the Pixar Playbook, and just made this the Vanellope equivalent of Finding Dory.
  • They didn’t cut as deeply into the Internet parodies. I mean…to be fair… the full range of the internet could not be explored in a Disney movie, but it felt like they could have still skewered the web a little more than they did. You were left thinking they could have cut some of the time on the conventional aspects of the story to get a little more biting in their commentary.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The film is good, but it is still a lesser sequel that puts Disney in the same boat as Pixar.  Instead of being pushed to find new and original voices, we will now see Frozen 2 and Big Hero 7.  

Sequel can be fine, but it is no substitute for when you find that magic of something new and fresh.  Ralph Breaks the Internet is not new and fresh, but it is fun and pretty.  And it is NOT The Emoji Movie…

Overall, I give Ralph Breaks the Internet a score of 8.5 “Scholarly Post-Credit Scenes” out of 10. 

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