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Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/26/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/14/2019
It has been said that timing is everything. While this is certain true in reference to comedy and romance, it can also be said of movies. Especially when said movie is trying to be trendy. There was a time in the 1950s and 1960s when filmmakers, most notably low-budget exploitation filmmakers, would try to rush a movie into the theater which featured the latest fad. From music and dance crazes to cars and video games, these movie could be popular for a hot minute, but when then quickly fade away. (Except for Breakin’. Breakin’ will live forever.) So, it’s somewhat surprising to see this sort of thing in a movie which cost a reported $175 million. And it’s also surprising to see this kind of movie miss the mark.
Ralph Breaks the Internet takes us back to Litwak’s Arcade, the setting of 2012’s . Here, we find the titular Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and his best friend, Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) enjoying life. By day, they work in their respective video games – “Fix-It-Felix Jr.” and “Sugar Rush” – and by night they visit other video games and see their friends. However, Vanellope, who is a thrill-seeker, wants more out of life. In order to help with this, Ralph creates a new track in “Sugar Rush”, but this causes the game’s steering wheel to break. At this same time, Wi-Fi has come to the arcade. Ralph decides to take Vanellope to the Internet in order to find a new steering wheel and thus, save “Sugar Rush” from being unplugged forever. However, neither of them is prepared for the weird world which exists on-line.
Wreck-It Ralph was a fun, inter-generational experiment. For older viewers, it was a trip back to a time when video game arcades ruled and big, upright game consoles were the norm. This setting could have been very alienating for younger members of the audience, but the movie did a great job of balancing cameos by dozens of retro game characters with a story about self-esteem and acceptance. It also incorporated some more modern-looking video game aesthetics so that kids wouldn’t feel completely alienated. The universal appeal of video games, a touching story, and some funny moments lead to a good time for all.
Ralph Breaks the Internet attempts to mimic this formula, but this time, the nostalgic feel is replaced with a sense of arriving too late to the party. We get that begin a video game arcade in today’s landscape, Litwak’s isn’t exactly the hippest place. But, the fact that Mr. Litwak (voiced by Ed O’Neill) has waited until 2019 to install Wi-Fi (or to even seem remotely familiar with the Internet) seems a bit far-fetched. From there, the movie just feels dated. Ralph and Vanellope go to the Internet and experience real-life websites like eBay and Twitter. There are also fake sites like “BuzzTube” and “Goggle”. Is this fresh or funny? No. Even worse, the exact same thing was done in 2017’s , one of the most maligned movie ever made. People may hate that film, but there’s no doubt that it did a lot of the things seen in Ralph Breaks the Internet first. The latter film already faces challenges from being a somewhat belated sequel which offers a dated premise, but being an also-ran to The Emoji Movie is a crushing blow. Not to mention that the title utilizes a phrase which was introduced in 2014 and has lost virtually all meaning.
Again, Ralph Breaks the Internet tries to regain the magic found in the first film by re-shaping the main theme. However, this time it’s Vanellope who is longing for more. The message here appears to be that it’s bad to get stuck in a rut and that one should long to buck the status quo. Is this a good message for a kid’s movie? Especially given the fact that Vanellope longs to leave the comfortable, if familiar surroundings of “Sugar Rush” and join a violent game called “Slaughter Race”. The moral obligation here falls on Ralph, who must learn to let his friend follow her dreams. Is it a bad idea to try and talk your friend out of joining something called “Slaughter Race”?
In short, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a disappointment. The dated story and references mixed with a questionable theme make for a film that is struggling to find its place in the world. And while the characters retain some of their charm, now that their struggle to be accepted has been resolved, they’ve lost some of their dramatic drive. The movie contains some funny visual gags and a few clever jokes, but the bulk of the movie feels very flat. The only true highlight is the highly promoted sequence in which Vanellope meets all of the Disney princesses. This stand-out moment may feel like a commercial for other properties from the “House of Mouse”, but it shows a level of creativity and ease which the rest of the movie could have used.
Ralph Breaks the Internet also dates itself by having a cameo appearance from Miranda Sings on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. This is clearly a digital-to-digital transfer, as it looks pristine. The colors look fantastic, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth works very well, giving this a quasi 3D look, and the level of detail is very impressive. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences, such as “Slaughter Race”, provide detailed surround sound and stereo effects, and we can pick out individual sounds at times. The subwoofer is palpable, but never overwhelming, adding ambience to the film. The stereo effects sounds coming from off-screen.
The Ralph Breaks the Internet Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. “Surfing for Easter Eggs” (4 minutes) highlights some inside jokes which are lurking in the film. “The Music of Ralph Breaks the Internet” (10 minutes) shows Composer Henry Jackman at work on the soundstage, and he discusses his approach to the film. “BuzzTube Cats” (2 minutes) is a reel of cat videos designed for the film, many of which mimic real videos seen on YouTube. “How We Broke the Internet” (33 minutes) is a 10-part making-of featurette which focuses on the making of the film. Directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston leads a discussion with the designers and animators who talk about the origin of the story and the look of the film. The Disc contains five DELTED SCENES which show rough versions of early scenes. Finally, we get MUSIC VIDEOS for “Zero” by Imagine Dragons and “In This Place” by Julia Michaels.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long