DirectorRich Moore/Phil Johnston
Release Date(s)2018 (February 26, 2019)
Studio(s)Walt Disney Animation Studios (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C+
After their adventures in 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph and becoming best friends along the way, video game characters Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) go on a new adventure in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Enjoying a care-free life of video games during the day and fun-loving activities during the night, Ralph and Vanellope embark upon a new adventure after the owner of their arcade installs Wi-Fi for the first time. However, it isn’t all fun and games as they manage to wreak a bit of havoc on the world of the internet once they get there.
I honestly didn’t have any expectations for Ralph Breaks the Internet. I had seen the previous entry and felt that it was merely ok, and not much more than that. The sequel is actually an improvement as its emotional narrative focus is much stronger. Ralph’s need to continue to live in his perfect world clashes with Vanellope’s desire of wanting more out of life, making for an interesting and heartfelt dynamic between the two that’s constantly being examined. The entire theme of the story is about change and how to live with it, making it particularly tear-jerking in the film’s final moments where the emotion rings truer than anywhere else in the story.
The biggest problem with the film, which isn’t really that much of a problem right now, is how dated it is almost immediately upon arrival, which is an unfortunate side effect of movies that deal with technology of any kind. Companies like eBay, Amazon, and Pinterest are constantly on display, and even integral to the plot in some cases, but 30 years from now, they may not be relevant to future generations at all. I personally feel that making up fake company names as jokes or references to remind current audiences of those companies but also future-proofing the film’s long-lasting value is almost always the better approach. After all, you can save a lot of money on getting those licenses and spend the budget more wisely elsewhere, but I digress.
Speaking of references, fans of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars will appreciate this film as it’s jam-packed with them, both obvious and obscure. An object might be sitting in the background that's a reference to Moana, for instance, or part of the film’s narrative may involve Storm Troopers. Since this is a Disney production and the film’s setting is the internet, one can only imagine the types of things that you might see. Even one of the plot points involves several of the Disney princesses, who Vanellope meets along the way.
Overall, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a candy-coated, animated, nostalgia reference factory. It may be a bit predictable and a little generic on the surface, but it has more to offer than simply making references to Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, or many other Disney properties. It has an emotion behind it that’s actually quite affecting, not unlike the Pixar films of the past.
Presented in its full 2.39:1 aspect ratio, Ralph Breaks the Internet looks about like you’d expect from a modern animated film in high definition, which is to say spectacular. There’s nothing groundbreaking about it, but it’s a solid 1080p experience full of depth and detail, all of it crisp and well-defined. The color palette, which is highly varied, offers plenty of deep hues from one environment to the next – whether it’s the dark corridors of the arcade or the vivid tones of the world wide web. Black levels are thoroughly deep and both brightness and contrast levels are virtually perfect. Everything appears appropriately sharp without any noticeable artifacts or unnecessary enhancements.
The same goes for the audio, which comes in a few options: English 7.1 DTS-HD, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, and French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The 7.1 track offers a copious amount of speaker-to-speaker activity and LFE, but the volume might need some mild adjustment to fully enjoy it. Dialogue is always perfectly clear while the score and song selection ranges from pleasant ambience to in-your-face, speaker-rattling material. Sound effects seem a bit subdued from time to time, but the overall mix is balanced well enough without any distortion issues. Optional subtitles are also included in English SDH, English, French, and Spanish.
The supplements for this release include Surfing for Easter Eggs, a 4-minute sampler of the numerous nods and Easter eggs found throughout the film; The Music of Ralph Breaks the Internet, an 11-minute featurette about the film’s songs and score with producer Clark Spencer, executive music producer Tom MacDougall, composer Henry Jackman, directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, songwriter Alan Menken, singer Julia Michaels, and the music group Imagine Dragons; and BuzzzTube Cats, which is 2 minutes of animated internet cat videos that the Disney animators created as early research.
There’s also the 33-minute making-of featurette How We Broke the Internet in 10 parts with a Play All option (Introduction, Netizens, Net Users, Knowsmore, eBay, Older Net, Slaughter Race, BuzzzTube, OhmyDisney, Ralphzilla, The Goodbye). Among the speakers are directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, producer Clark Spencer, story supervisor Jason Hand, story artist Natalie Noirigrat, co-writer Pamela Ribon, head of story Josie Trinidad, production designer Cory Loftis, art director for characters Ami Thompson, director of cinematography lighting Brian Leach, director of cinematography layout Nathan Warner, heads of animation Kira Lehtomaki and Renato dos Anjos, technical supervisor Ernest Petti, visual effects supervisor Scott Kersavage, crowd supervisor Moe El-Ali, head of characters and technical animation Dave Komorowski, and head of effects Cesar Velazquez. It’s a little glossy, but offers some nice background information.
Also included are 5 deleted scenes with introductions by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston (Into the Internet, Opposites, Domestic Hell, Bubble of One, Recruiting Grandma); music videos for Zero by Imagine Dragons and In This Place by Julia Michaels; Sneak Peeks of the upcoming Disney films Toy Story 4, Aladdin, and Dumbo, which also open the disc; a DVD copy; and a paper insert with a Digital Copy code.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a surprisingly enjoyable film, one that makes me want to go back and reevaluate its predecessor. There’s nothing particularly special about either film, but they offer enough enjoyment to make them worth the effort. The Blu-ray release of Ralph Breaks the Internet offers a great A/V presentation and a decent set of extras, making it a nice package for those not ready to fully commit to 4K-UHD just yet.
– Tim Salmons