‘Ralph Breaks The Internet’ Review: Sequel Brings Laughs & Wrecks Hearts

Ralph Breaks the InternetSix years after Wreck-It-Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz first raced across the big-screen, the video-game characters are back in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Disney Animation Studio’s first sequel since Fantasia 2000, Ralph Breaks the Internet is full of laughs and emotionally heavy moments that will give everyone in the family something to think about.

After Ralph and Vanellope accidentally break the steering wheel on Sugar Rush, they embark on a journey into the newly plugged-in Wi-Fi to find a new one. To earn enough money for a spare part, Ralph sets off trying to make as much money as possible online by lifting popular game items or becoming a viral sensation. But, as Ralph works diligently to return things to how they’ve always been, Vanellope starts to think about what kind of changes she wants in her own life after finding this new world.

With John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman in the lead, Ralph Breaks the Internet is packed full of powerful performances. The actors recorded in the booths together (sans Gal Gadot’s sessions for the badass racer Shank because she was busy filming Wonder Woman 1984) and the intimacy between the performers comes across in all of their voices and adds to the emotional weight of each moment. Newcomer Taraji P. Henson turns in a powerful performance as Yesss, an algorithm that determines what’s hot and what’s not. Throughout most of the movie the character is a go-getter with a lot of energy, but there are moments throughout Ralph Breaks the Internet where Yesss becomes much more vulnerable and intimate with those around her. While the smaller, heavy moments likely won’t be remembered by kids upon exiting the theater, every major character is given a small, introspective moment to shine as they deal with life’s changes.

The internet will exist for centuries, but this movie is very much so a critique of  how the internet stands today. Brands like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube (appropriately renamed BuzzTube in Ralph Breaks the Internet) are all made fun of and included in the movie. Universal features like pop-up ads and comment sections are touched upon, but the movie really comes into its own when the internet is looked as as a place that can equally make the user feel good and exacerbates their insecurities. In many ways, Ralph Breaks the Internet is one of the most important critiques about the internet in recent memory, and its especially vital for children who never knew a world without the web. As Vloggers seemingly take over the world, this movie directly confronts why individuals seek the anonymous approval of others and what that says about modern society. For a movie jam-packed full of jokes, and trust me there were quite a few moments where I laughed pretty hard (or lold as my internet friends say), Ralph Breaks the Internet is a touching, tender film that tackles why people are so desperate for connection and how self-destructive they can be in order to preserve those relationships.

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Anyone who’s been to Disneyland knows that the media company is the master of synergy. Well, that synergistic energy is ramped up to 11 in Ralph Breaks the Internet as Ralph and Vanellope find a Disney fansite modeled on D23, Disney’s bi-annual convention held in Anaheim, California. The interactions between Vanellope and the rest of the Disney princesses, all voiced by their original actresses except for Snow White, are some of the most enjoyable, funny throughout the movie. Not only does each princess have a moment to shine and crack a joke — their new casual dressware is especially funny — but their inclusion in Ralph Braks the Internet leads to an important critique on their tendency to wait for a man to rescue them. While the movie certainly celebrates Disney’s past and even includes new hits like Marvel and Star Wars, it shines brightest when directly commenting on the studio’s past as it pushes things forward with a new, young and independent Princess. Vanellope, in contrast to the classic Princesses, has no problem doing things her own way and certainly isn’t waiting for anyone to tell her what to do — and that fiery spark of independence shines during the hilarious musical number “A Place Called Slaughter Race.”

As far as the animation goes, Ralph Breaks the Internet is one of the most gorgeously rendered films I’ve seen in a while. Thanks to popping colors and detailed character designs, the world feel vibrant and alive. The internet has been depicted in animation numerous times, but the way the animators captured the inter-connectivity and sense of scope helps give the internet an awe-inspiring and overwhelming feeling simultaneously.  The pixelated glow beckons Ralph and Vanellope onward, but the inclusion of a shady darkweb and destructive viruses serves to remind the characters that nothing is as ideal as it seems.

I wouldn’t have guessed this, but Ralph Breaks the Internet is an important movie to watch for people who may struggle with co-dependency issues or people moving on from the loss of a friend or partner. Underneath all the meme humor is a movie that looks at how people change and what that means for relationships as they evolve. Sometimes people have different goals or different ideas of what makes a perfect life, and that’s okay, but it can be a hard lesson to learn. While a lot of the emotional beats may go over the heads of young children, I’m happy that Disney chose to make such an emotionally resonant film here. Sure, the movie leans on references a bit too much, bur Ralph Breaks the Internet is an important film for both children and adults that will make them laugh and maybe even cry.

Final Score: 7.5/10

The 9 Best Things About ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

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Red Dead Redemption 2Well, cowboys and cowgirls, Red Dead Redemption 2 is finally here. Eight years after the original title took the gaming world by storm, Rockstar is back with a prequel set ten years before the original. For people who like horses but may not want to ride them in real life, they're in luck, because anyone who plays Red Dead Redemption 2 will be sitting on a horse for quite a while. As you pursue an outlaw life, jumping from town-to-town, players explore a world full of danger and excitement behind every corner.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has already broken pretty much every entertainment record imaginable. It's had the most successful opening weekend for any entertainment product ever, so you don't need to take my word on why this game is so good, just go look at the numbers. Underneath the massive, 60-hour story, is a beautiful world layered with complicated characters, powerful predators and painful memories. So, what are you waiting for, go jump on your horse and start playing this game!

Hit Next to discover the 9 Best Things about Red Dead Redemption 2!

9. The Dialogue

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Sure the game is beautiful and it's fun to duel other outlaws, but what first pulls people into Red Dead Redemption 2 is the sharp writing and dialogue. Every character, from the protagonist Arthur Morgan or his colleagues in Dutch's gang to the random interactive individuals the player bumps into, has sharp, unique dialogue. Despite the similarities between many characters, they all have something interesting to say and add to the world. More than just time-filler, the background conversations in this game often fill people in on the details of the world and give hints about other people's backgrounds. Sitting down at a local saloon to play poker is more than just an entertaining way to lose some money, it's also a way to collect information. Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in a rough setting, so it's fascinating to learn what people are thinking and stressing about at that time through their dialogue.

8. Open World

Red Dead Redemption 2

Instead of being restricted to one town, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open world game in every way imaginable. Once the game loads up, there is no loading as the character traverses the massive map. Instead, the game seamlessly transitions from one area to the next as Arthur rides around on his horse. Then, once you finally settle on a town or a camp you like, the people are already walking around and talking, waiting for some interaction. Once this game boots up there is nothing that takes you out of the moment, giving the game a very fluid, life-like quality.

7. John Marston and the Gang

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption became an immediate classic for many reasons. An incredible plot and slick game-play certainly helped, but part of why audiences truly connected with the classic game was the protagonist: John Marston. A former outlaw who has since found a new path, Marston is an ethical individual trying his best to survive as the west slowly transforms into an industrially controlled zone. Over the course of the first game, players truly grow alongside Marston and watch as he interacts with people from his past and hatches a plot to keep his family safe.

Red Dead Redemption 2 may be a prequel that sees players control a different character, Arthur Morgan, but that doesn't mean Rockstar forgot about their original sweetheart. Marston is back, and this time he's much younger, meaner and stupider as he's still a young man trying to make his mark on the world. His family and many of the shady character's he crosses in Red Dead Redemption are here too, giving audiences even more information about Marston and the way he likes to live his life. At the moment, Red Dead Redemption 2 seems to be setting Morgan and Marston up for some kind of confrontation, but I'm just happy to see the classic cowboy back after all these years.

6. Staying Alive

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is more than just an intense single-player game, it's also an RPG that makes players take care of themselves. It's not enough simply to heal yourself, to stay at top performance, players have to make sure Arthur is constantly nourished and well-rested. Over fatigue is a big deal in this game, and if you find yourself too far away from your horse you may have to start foraging for food in order to make the long trek back.

Not only do players have to keep Arthur alive, but they also have to take care of their horse. It may sound tedious, but ensuring that the players horses are at top strength is an essential component of the game. No one in the west just jumped on a random horse and immediately bonded with them, it takes time to cultivate that relationship, and Red Dead Redemption 2 allows this simple, realistic side of the cowboy lifestyle to shine through.

5. Hunting Simulator

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There are a lot of ways to entertain yourself in Red Dead Redemption 2's massive world, but one of the most interesting things to do is go hunting. Whether your skinning animals to make money in town or finding something to eat for dinner, the game takes the act of hunting very seriously. Everything from foxes to grizzly bears are roaming this big world, and players need to stay alert as to where they are on the map or they may just cross a hungry predator. There are multiple levels to hunting in this game, including tracking and laying out bait, making it a long-process where players need to patiently stalk their prey instead of simply pointing their gun and shooting into the forest.

4. Choose for Yourself: The Rockstar Formula

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Like most games with a major story running through it, a lot of the character's actions are predetermined. But, as with any Rockstar game, players can choose to cause a ruckus or follow society's laws. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Grand Theft Auto is just letting loose and causing some trouble, and while the carnage isn't nearly as destructive in Red Dead Redemption 2, running from the law is just as fun. Having a large bounty on your head may make things inconvenient in major cities, but it's easy enough to pay it off at a local train station. What makes playing an outlaw so entertaining is that they get to be a hero on one day and a scoundrel on the next without feeling like they are abandoning their personalities.

3. The Beautiful Music

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No game is complete without a beautiful soundscape, and Red Dead Redemption 2 has just that. Not only does it have a sprawling soundtrack that includes everyone from Willie Nelson to D'Angelo, but the score, recorded with over 100 artists, is wonderful. Woody Jackson, the composer on the original game, returned to score this new one and his pieces are as effective as ever. Whether you're just riding around the country or engaged in a vicious shootout, the music is right there accompanying you, dragging out the intensity or serenity of each moment.

2. The Scope

Red Dead Redemption 2

As entertaining as Red Dead Redemption 2's core story is- and this is speaking as someone who still hasn't defeated the massive game- it's really the side-missions and random interactions that make the game so enjoyable. Immersion is a word game critics and developers throw around a lot, but it is a central component of Red Dead Redemption 2. Whether you're just walking around the town or riding your horse through the desert, odds are someone is going to talk to you and introduce you to another part of this massive world. Everyone here has a story and something worth saying, making the amount of content shoved in the game seem almost daunting. Sometimes it's hard to choose which mission to continue because some of the side quests are equally or more compelling than the core story line. The game has 60 hours of story and over 500,000 lines of recorded dialogue, and this doesn't even include the upcoming online mode that will keep players engaged long-after they've defeated the solo mode.

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