‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ is vibrant, high-energy ride across cyberspace

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios

The creators of “Wreck-It Ralph” were ambitious with their move from the small atmosphere of Litwak’s arcade to the vast world of the internet, but it paid off.

“Wreck-It Ralph” director-writing duo Rich Moore and Phil Johnston are back with the anticipated sequel. Leaving the comfort of Litwak’s Arcade, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a comedic force exploring the wonder and woes of growing up.

Despite coming six years after “Wreck-It Ralph,” not much has changed at Litwak’s arcade. But with the same routine every day, someone is bound to question the meaning of it all, and that’s Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). After expressing her boredom with Litwak’s and Sugar Rush, a baffled Ralph (John C. Reilly) tries to fix it and as usual, things go wrong. The debacle ends up breaking Sugar Rush’s steering wheel.

With Litwak preparing to shut down the game for good, Ralph and Vanellope venture into the internet in search of the rare wheel. That’s when “Ralph Breaks the Internet” really starts the gas, speeding into the world of the internet.

Walt Disney Animation’s take on the internet is visually fantastic. The artists and animators designed “Ralph Breaks the Internet” with fun, saturated color and flair that demands attention the way any device would. Their imagined version of the internet has a personality of itself with manic exuberance as avatars scurry around, pop-ups shout and a variety of notifications and packages zip towards their destinations.

As Ralph and Vanellope explore the internet, the film introduces a slew of new characters and familiar faces. These additions add an extra feminine power that “Wreck-It Ralph” lacked. In search of the wheel, the pair meet Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), who runs “BuzzTube” with style and authority. Then, there’s the highly anticipated gathering of the Disney princesses. “Moana” screenwriter Pamela Ribbon made sure to craft the princesses with a revamped feminine perspective which left viewers wanting more.

Another new female character is “Slaughter Race” racer Shank (Gal Gadot), who quickly takes a liking to Vanellope. Besides the princesses, their friendship is one of the best parts of “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” This newfound relationship allows the movie to provide commentary on the impact of positive connections between women. In “Wreck-It Ralph,” Vanellope was a glitch and an outcast among Taffyta and company, but in this sequel, Vanellope is empowered and sure of herself.

Moore and Johnston jam-pack a lot of themes in a rapid fire pace. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” touches on ideas of relationships, male toxicity, wanderlust and online fan culture all in right under two hours. These themes are fun and compelling for a Disney film but also create a lot of scattered subplots that can be a bit exhausting to watch when they are too quickly tied up or weakly done. This holds “Ralph Breaks the Internet” back from completely surpassing its predecessor.

A movie about the internet can easily be too scattered and commercialized, but “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a blast and surfs on with surprising finesse.