Ralph Breaks the Internet Review

If there were ever a film I was cautiously optimistic about watching, it’d be Ralph Breaks the Internet. As a huge fan of Wreck-it-Ralph, hearing that there would be a direct sequel was exciting. I mean, the potential is limitless with this kind of flick. But when I heard the plot would focus on current internet trends, my heart skipped a beat. All I could think about was the abominable movie that came out just the previous year, The Emoji Movie. Surely Disney wouldn’t make the same mistake as Sony, right? Right?

Taking place several years after the events of the first Wreck-it-Ralph, we see that all is relatively good in the gaming world for our likable heroes Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). That is, until one day a part breaks on Vanellope’s video game Sugar Rush, causing the arcade owner to unplug it. This leaves many without homes and causes Vanellope to question her place in the pixelated world of the arcade. To fix this mess, she and Ralph decide to travel to the vast, sometimes overwhelming world of the internet, where they hope to order her game a new part on eBay and save the day. Coming across many unique characters and situations in the process.

Making a movie about internet culture is practically a death sentence for your longevity as a film. Make the wrong joke about a fly-by-night app or defunct social media platform, and your movie is suddenly labeled as “dated”. Destined to be either hated or forgotten. Take a look at the most extreme case of this, The Emoji Movie. An embodiment of everything wrong with the internet and social media, it’s become one of the most hated movies of recent years.

It’s no surprise that initially Ralph Breaks the Internet was giving off bad Emoji Movie vibes, as both plots essentially deal with the same topic. Thankfully Ralph handles the topic of internet culture with much more grace, humor, and creativity. All things Wreck-it-Ralph fans are sure to respect in this installment. The visualization of eBay, pop-up ads, and the Google search engine are quite cutesy, and viewers are sure to get a kick out of imagination that went behind them.

This isn’t to say there weren’t references that were DOA, dated on arrival. Numerous jokes simply didn’t work because, as the film itself so bluntly puts it, that was trending fifteen seconds ago. Unless you’re still obsessed with screaming goats, hot pepper challenges, and Fortnite dances, you’ll probably find some of this humor a tad out of touch.

Early on there is a clear side plot established featuring Fix-it Felix Jr. and Calhoun that is immediately abandoned. In fact, we don’t see those characters again until the end of the movie. Not that the film needed a story involving these old side characters, I just found it odd that they teased the audience with a plot thread they had no intention of sticking to.

Regardless of dumped side stories, the true focus of Ralph Breaks the Internet is on the budding (yet soon to be strained) friendship of Ralph and Vanellope. We’re given a lot of great moments between the two, which really fleshes out the characters beyond what was seen in the first movie. Both voice actors bring a lot of well-defined personality to the roles, and the unlikely pair have so much chemistry together it’s kind of mind-boggling to think about.

There’s also a clear message worked in about friends keeping close despite growing apart and having different goals to achieve in life. It’s touching and a little complex, but easy enough to understand for young kids.

And I think that’s where the real strength of Ralph Breaks the Internet lies. Not in the trendy jokes or many callbacks to Disney products, but in the fascinating people that inhabit this very thought out world. Ralph doesn’t rely on past characters and environments to prop up its new story, as we get a whole host of new ones in their place. The film hardly even has a villain per se. The most villainous act in the movie is actually carried out by one of the protagonists, how interesting.

Even with some plot flubs and cringe-filled humor, I feel that Ralph Breaks the Internet is a genuinely solid sequel to a wonderfully imaginative family movie.

The Verdict: B

-Zachary Flint

Sing Review

When I first saw the previews for Sing, all I could think in my mind was ‘Zootopia ripoff’. This was going to be a cheap cash-in off the popularity of Disney’s movie about talking animals just this past year. However I have enjoyed most of Illumination Entertainment’s films so I might as well give it an honest try.

After watching Sing, I unfortunately found that some of my preconceptions had merit.

Sing is all about a Koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), who owns a failing music theater. Broke and at wits end, Buster decides to hold a singing competition for a grand prize of 100,000 dollars. In reality Buster only has about a grand. From here we are introduced to a diverse group of animals (pigs, porcupines, gorillas, etc.) looking to win big in the music business. Will the theater be able to stay open and be successful? Or will it be destined to crash and burn?

First with the bad news. I felt that Sing was definitely a cash in off of Zootopia. In Zootopia, it made sense that all the characters were animals. The movie told a story of racism between animal species and the bias they had against animals they labeled ‘predators’. The filmmakers also cleverly utilized the suburbs of where each animal species lived within the city. In Sing, they’re just animals for no particular reason. This doesn’t necessarily make it bad, it just sets up the film to be uninspired.

Also, this films plot was one of the most predictable plots I’ve seen in a while. I was able to guess exactly where each scene was going and how the movie would end. It took a couple of creative twists and turns but other than that extremely predictable.

The pacing was off too. I think Illumination tried incorporating too many main characters, because there is a lot of needless jumping from character to character. Time is split up so much between them that we don’t get the individual focus we need devoted to each character. Some characters are developed well with distinct personalities, some are left extremely flat.

The humor for this film was a little hit and miss for me. Some of the reoccurring jokes I found more and more hilarious as the film went on. Other attempts at humor I found very forced and embarrassingly bad. The audience in the theater I was with was pretty diverse in age, and they seemed to respond the same way I did to the humor. Sometimes everybody was laughing, other times there was just awkward silence.

The music (a major part of the film) was hit or miss for me as well. I liked the original song a lot written by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande. The other pop songs used were okay but I don’t think were integrated very well into the film.

This all being said, I found Sing to be very entertaining. The animation was as good as any other Illumination Entertainment film. The mood was distinctly happy and bright, even at Sing’s saddest moments. Even though the characters were underdeveloped I still found myself invested in them. I wanted these people to succeed and I wanted  to see them happy in the end.

I must also mention my favorite part of Sing, which would be John C. Reilly. He plays this weird and lazy sheep that got me laughing every time he was on screen. The way he enunciated his lines and the way the sheep was animated made for some great comedic material.

If your someone looking for an entertaining story despite its predictable plot, I would check this out. If your a fan of cutesy characters and happy stories, than Sing should be a pretty harmless treat. Overall I think Sing is a movie that many people will love, even though it wasn’t my cup of tea.

-Zachary Flint