While there have been over 50 direct to video Disney sequels released from 1994 to 2008, they were made by a different animation studio, as quick cash grabs with cheaper animation and are considered to be inferior to their first instalments. The only sequels that Walt Disney Animation Studios have ever produced themselves were “The Rescuers Down Under” and “Fantasia 2000.” The former ended up being a flop that is the forgotten middle child between “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The latter received a lukewarm critical reception but is held up by many as a classic. Twenty-eight years later the studio is once again taking a shot at a sequel with “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is an animated Disney film directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, who were previously involved in the first “Wreck-it Ralph” and “Zootopia.” The film stars John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman reprising their roles from the first film with newcomers Taraji P. Henson, Gal Gadot and Bill Hader rounding out the main cast.
Set six years after the first movie, Vanellope is tired of Sugar Rush always being the same game and wishes for something new and exciting. Ralph attempts to help her by making some changes to her game that results in the steering wheel for the Sugar Rush arcade cabinet breaking. Ralph and Vanellope must now go into the internet in order to find a replacement part so the game won’t be sold for parts, but as the story progresses, Vanellope wonders if she even wants to go back to the arcade.
The best element of the movie is that it’s not a rehash of the first film. Like any good sequel it expands on the world shown in the first film, raises the stakes and further develops its characters. We see how Ralph and Vanellope have grown their friendship in the past few years and even see what all the characters from the first film have been up to for the small amount of screentime they have.
The look of the internet is very imaginative, creative and does a good job mixing elements from our world with websites to make them feel more like a real world such as Ebay looking like a Walmart style superstore, their Google stand-in being an information booth, and the Disney fansite looking like a fan convention.
When it comes to the new characters, Gal Gadot’s character, Shank, creates some fun character dynamics with Vanellope with them both being car driving adrenaline junkies, but the difference being Shank is from a violent action MMO game called “Slaughter Race” while Vanellope is from a game that is more cutesy and child-friendly. Both Taraji P. Henson and Bill Hader also do good jobs giving emotion and character to Yesss, the living embodiment for the movie’s Youtube stand in, Buzztube, and Spamley, the living embodiment of a pop-up ad. I feel we we didn’t really see enough of them to make much of an impression and I would have liked to see a little more of them. Another new character that I feel was a standout was KnowsMore, the living embodiment of an internet search bar, who was both funny and charming despite not having much screen time. And he is the first Alan Tudyk Disney character that I didn’t recognize the voice of until the credits (he has voiced a character in every Disney film from Tangled until now).
The movie deals with the themes of friendship, finding out where you belong and has a good message for both kids and their parents. So if you’re looking for movie to watch with your family this Thanksgiving, I would recommend that you give this movie a try.
Except for one thing. If you saw the scene with the Disney Princesses in the trailers and loved it, you’ll love the movie, and it’s everything you want it to be. When I first found out that there was a scene where they go into the Disney website where they show off all the properties they own, I hated the idea because I felt that the scene would be completely corporate and soulless. Sadly, I was right.
It was just an extended commercial. You could replace this scene with another scene where Vanellope interacts with Shank and the movie would be exactly the same. I would in no way be shocked if this whole scene wasn’t part of the first draft of the script, and was added specifically at the request of the higher-ups because they didn’t have enough faith in their own movie. It just screams of Disney going “Look at us, we can make our characters wear casual clothing and address their similar character archetypes like those kids on the interwebs.”
While some might interpret it it as Disney catering to its fans by taking inspiration from people’s fan art and addressing commentary people have made on the archetypes of these characters, to me it just feels like Steve Buscemi wearing a hoodie, a backwards baseball cap and a t-shirt that says “band name” on it while holding two skateboards and saying “How do you do, fellow kids?” It also doesn’t help that not only are they wearing normal clothes, they’re wearing clothes with Disney related logos and slogans on them that are now available at Disney.com. So yeah, I really hated this scene, and this is coming from a guy that loves comic-cons, fanart, cosplay and everything else that is usually associated with fandom. Does it ruin the whole movie for me? Not really, but I will say that it left a sour taste in my mouth for the rest of the film. If you too are not a fan of this, then I would say to skip this movie in theaters and wait to see it on streaming, where you have the option to fast forward through that scene.