2012's Wreck-It Ralph tackled the nostalgic landscape of arcade games through a pair of misfit characters, a soft-hearted brute named Ralph (John C. Reilly) and fast-talking and witty Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). Disney Animation isn't typically one to revisit its feature films, (the company's last theatrical sequel was Fantasia 2000) but today's continuously expansive world of gaming and the internet just begged for a sequel for the pixelated pals. Ultimately, Disney went for it.
Ralph Breaks the Internet has Ralph and Vanellope venturing through a Wi-Fi router and into the World Wide Web, providing boundless opportunities for the studio to poke fun and create an animated world for the internet in Disney's legendary fun and imaginative fashion. While the Disney sequel doesn't hit theaters until November 21, reviews are making their way on the web as well. For the most part, critics are happily greeting Ralph to the internet, though most feel there may be a few bugs worth pointing out.
In our own corner of the web, CinemaBlend's own Eric Eisenberg awarded Ralph Breaks the Internet a star rating of 4 out of 5 stars. While he thought that its narrative didn't quite measure up to its first film, its strong character development made it a worthwhile and entertaining watch. In his words:
It's a story that serves as a fantastic extension of the original, constructing a narrative that is a natural evolution from where the last one left off, and is packed to the brim with surprises, meta references and immense creativity that will keep you smiling and laughing throughout.
Leading up to the release of Ralph Breaks the Internet, the film has marketed itself around its clever references to the internet many audiences love to love and love to hate at the same time. The movie will also include a highly-anticipated scene with all of the Disney Princesses in one room where they will give advice to Vanellope, as evidenced in early trailers and at CinemaCon. Bryan Bishop of The Verge found a particular strength of the film in the studio's ability to poke fun at itself, something we don't often see in a Disney movie. Here's what he said:
What really makes Ralph Breaks the Internet stand apart isn't the jokes about online culture; it's the way the film is able to cleverly send up classic Disney movies. Where the original film poked fun at games, this time, the subject of critique is the company's own legacy. And it's a smarter, more entertaining film for it.
Not everyone enjoyed Ralph Breaks the Internet commenting on the World Wide Web though. Alonso Duralde from The Wrap felt the movie not only recycled much of its previous film's themes and ideas, but to the point that it felt unoriginal. The movie probably didn't need to depend on that commentary. In his words:
As Ralph and Vanellope make their way through various recognizable areas of the web, it feels more than a little like the characters in The Emoji Movie traveling from app to app, and that's no good for anyone. "Wreck-It Ralph" was no masterpiece, but it never felt nearly as phoned-in as this chapter.
A sequel is always at risk of repeating itself or not standing on its own as well as before. Another roadblock potentially facing Ralph Breaks the Internet is its use of branding within the movie due to the subject matter revolving around quite a few products Disney has a stake in. Polygon's Karen Han notices this, but found the emotional center of the story out-weighs its frequent product placement. In her words:
The film is unquestionably a corporate product; there's a lot of very blatant Disney peacocking going on. But it seems that Wreck-It Ralph's singular core is strong enough to keep its sequel from taking on the patina of a cynical, algorithm-generated product -- in fact, it's the polar opposite. Confession: I began involuntarily tearing up about halfway through the film, and kept crying on and off until the movie came to an end.
I'd say bring some tissues, but haven't we grown up expecting to shed a few tears during Disney's animated films? Each of the studio's films usually have an unexpected and important deeper message to tell. For Collider's Matt Goldberg, Ralph Breaks the Internet is about toxic relationships, which is tackled via a new dynamic between Ralph and Vanellope. In this new dynamic, one is satisfied and the other wants to grow in new ways and she can't bring her big wrecking ball video game pal along for the ride. He wouldn't want to go anyway. In Goldberg's words:
Where the film shines is the friendship story and it shows how Disney Animation is pushing itself harder to tell new stories. They could have simply done "Friendship is good" and Ralph is a good friend to Vanellope by sacrificing himself in some way (similar to the last movie). But instead, Ralph Breaks the Internet goes deeper, showing the dangers of being a bad friend by having Ralph engage in duplicitous behavior to try and save his friendship with Vanellope.
While the Disney sequel isn't without its flaws, critics overall seem to be praising the studio for its ambition and ability to switch up how and why they tell stories. According to Variety's Peter Debruge, the film uses this opportunity to tell a nuanced story for all ages and shows a potential movement in what stories Disney is trying to tell, saying:
Ralph is a disruptor by design, and in many ways, he's the ideal character to bring about the next seismic shift, creating a space where the studio can poke fun at itself, while creating a more enlightened narrative for fans. The movie isn't all laughs, however, managing to surprise at times by how nuanced the animation can be.
You can of course decide for yourself how you feel about the movie when Ralph Breaks the Internet officially comes to theaters on November 21. As for what else the rest of the year has in store theatrically, check out our holiday movie guide for what's next. Post holidays, the 2019 premiere schedule should have you covered as well.