This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Ethan99’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Here we are, folks. This is Walt Disney Animation Studios' first sequel in the current era (starting in 2008 with BOLT). Overall, this is their first sequel since 1990's THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER. When that movie flopped, Disney's executives at the time decided to instead outsource all of their future sequels to DisneyToon Studios, who mostly specialized in television animation before being shut down earlier this year. From 1994 to 2008, they would make pointless sequel after pointless sequel. I mean, BELLE'S MAGICAL WORLD? ATLANTIS: MILO'S RETURN? When the now-disgraced John Lasseter stepped into The Walt Disney Company to fix things up, one of the first things he did was cease production on all direct-to-video sequels. He then decreed that all future sequels should be made in-house at their respective studios and when they are ready, meaning that they would only be done if the filmmakers want to do them instead of executives wanting money by capitalizing on their predecessors. Now that we've reached our first proper sequel, how did it turn out?
The story of the film involves how one day in Litwak's Arcade, the steering wheel for SUGAR RUSH snaps off, so Vanellope and the rest of her comrades have no idea where to go. When Mr. Litwak plugs a Wi-Fi router into the power strip, her and Ralph decide to go into the world of the Internet so that they can gather up enough money to purchase a new steering wheel from eBay. First off, the way that things happen in the story is very well-paced and never leaves you bored. I love it when stories like this, especially in sequels, are engaging. It really shows that you don't have to use the original's success to keep audiences engaged. If you ask me, another studio probably would have added in an unnecessary subplot where it shows what Felix and Calhoun do when they are left back at the arcade. Because of this, the story never loses a beat and also shows that Hollywood needs to realize that animation can be just as "sophisticated" as live-action, instead of being a kiddie thing. I know I keep rambling on about that, but it truly is sad. While I have great respect for both mediums, I just wish that executives would feel the same.
Another thing that works well is the animation. My God, the animation! While it repeats the same tricks with the video game characters in the first film, it really brings the world of the Internet to life! I really admire how each website looks visually, such as eBay looking like a real store, BuzzTube looking very neon-y, and SLAUGHTER RACE looking like a GRAN TURISMO-type game. My favorite bit would be in the Deep Web, where everything looks like an urban alley at night. Oh My Disney looks like all the stereotypes that Disney had placed on them in the 1990s, and then some. Like the first film, it truly does take advantage of how when you work on animation, the sky is the limit. I mean, look at all the neat visual tricks they pull in this film! You can tell, especially with the giant Ralph towards the end of the film, that the animators are having a good time with the materials they're working with, and the world building they do truly is impressive! Makes me wonder what they would do for a third film.
Like the first one, the characters are a real hoot in this as well. To be honest, I was shocked at how much they scaled down the screen time for Felix and Calhoun. Like I said earlier, I was expecting a potential subplot in which it shows them taking care of the other SUGAR RUSH kids. I'm personally happy they did not go this route, for it could have slowed down the movie a bit. I also like that they spend more time developing Ralph and Vanellope's friendship, and we do get some heavily emotional scenes with them. As for the new characters, I do wish that we got to explore how Shank lost a friend because she wanted him/her to have the same dreams that she had. I'll also say that Taraji P. Henson really brings out some personality in her performance of Yesss, but thankfully she isn't too annoying or over-the-top. She basically acts like how Vanellope did in the original film. J.P. Spamley was also funny, though I couldn't help but notice that Bill Hader's performance was a bit too recognizable, even with the New York accent and all. KnowsMore is also quite good, and I like how they implemented 2D animation into his character design. In fact, there was even some 2D in the Oh My Disney part of the film. You can clearly tell that Disney is trying to bring it back in some form, with both this and MARY POPPINS RETURNS. The Disney princesses are also good, and I think putting them in casual outfits was a nice touch. Sonic also had a decent cameo. Overall, the characters are extremely memorable, and I like how it also wasn't afraid to throw a big reality check at audiences. The reason you saw the spoiler warning before seeing this review is because I want to mention that at the end of the film, Vanellope chooses to live inside SLAUGHTER RACE instead of SUGAR RUSH. I like how the film explores how you shouldn't be so clingy to things, and that you have to eventually learn to let go. It reminds me of TOY STORY 3's ending in the sense that Andy gives his toys away to Bonnie, and the toys just learn to accept it. I relate to this for reasons I won't get that much into right now.
Overall, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET is a very fun experience for everybody, just like the original film! While they did tone down the amount of video game references this time around, I say it did make for a very enjoyable ride. Maybe not as good as its predecessor, especially since some of the references to things like FORTNITE could date the movie in a years, but at least it's not as pandering as CHICKEN LITTLE. Still, this is a definite must-watch! I hate to use this phrase, but this is THE EMOJI MOVIE done right!
(Also, bonus points for saving the PANCAKE MILKSHAKE bit for the mid-credits scene. It brought some good meta humor with it as well)