Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Feet Two

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Happy Feet Two - 3 out of 5

Dancing penguins.  That's all you need to know about Happy Feet Two.  I really enjoyed the first one because it was cute, a decent family film and I'm the guy you have to drag kicking and screaming away from the penguin exhibit at the zoo.  I was actually kinda surprised that a sequel was released to this film because the first one seemed to be enough and didn't feel like it warranted a sequel.  However, Hollywood doesn't care about if a sequel is warranted or not, they just want the money.

Dancing penguins...and not a single one does the robot.
I'm dubious of their dancing skills.

Happy Feet Two takes place not long after the first one.  Our tap dancing Arctic flightless bird friend; Mumble, is now a father to a young upstart rebel who doesn't want to dance.  If you didn't gasp at that statement, then you didn't learn the lesson about nature from the first film and that is penguins LOVE to dance.  Especially to modestly priced pop music that can easily be acquired and covered for a soundtrack.  After the rebellious little bird takes off, he discovers a group of penguins who have...well...began worshiping a puffin who they believe is a penguin who can fly.  This puffin, The Mighty Sven, teaches Mumble's child; Erik, that he can achieve anything as long as he believes in it strong enough.  Basically, Sven is selling the snake oil that many humans bought when it was called The Secret.  One needs to forgive Erik for his nativity as reality has yet to destroy his ability to hope for better things but after achieving this lesson, his home becomes trapped as a glacier broke free (there's a lot of lessons about climate change thrown into this one) and closed off the valley his family lives in.  Now it's up to Mumble and Erik to save them through--what else?--the power of dancing!

This bear obviously made some poor life choices.

Also, for some reason, this is a B-story about two krill who are out to end being the prey and begin being the predators. 

Another strange note on the film is the fact Antarctica seems to contain every single
accent on the face of the planet.  Seriously, these elephant seals have Australian accents,
some penguins have Mexican accents, others have European...it's strange.


Boiling it down, Happy Feet Two is...okay.  The film is never great but never truly awful either.  The animation doesn't look much different from the first one--which is strange because the first one came out 6 years ago and technology moves so fast that even The Flash can't keep up.  Even odder with the animation is the fact that when the action goes smaller--in the sense that the story goes from the penguins to the krill--the animation actually looks better as it's able to create an amazing sense of scale and detail.

Okay, Sven's clown-like face is flippin' scary.

The story here also feels extremely flat when compared to the journey Mumble took in the first film.  In fact, the story felt like it was more of a short story stretched into a feature length film by adding in the side story of the krill.  Honestly, the krill sequences that followed Bill and Will (get it, those names rhyme with krill) were great and amusing but didn't really fit into the story that well.  However, having Matt Damon and Brad Pitt as the krill sure helped to distract the viewer from the out-of-place feel the side story had.

"So...um...why exactly are we here?"

And that brings me to the best part of the film:  the cast.  Elijah Wood returns as Mumbles but replacing his love interest Gloria's voice is Pink.  But since Gloria wasn't that large of a focus in the film, having Pink replace Brittany Murphy is no big deal.  Once again Robin Williams is back doing as many voices as he can like the previous one--almost like he gets a check for each voice he does.  And bringing his talents to the puffin Sven is the very talented Hank Azaria.  The stellar cast they bring in is honestly the strongest aspect of the film.  But since this film is geared towards kids, the cast really isn't going to mean much to them.

Also a penguin in a sweater kinda freaks me out, too.

I try to take a lot of animated films with a grain of salt as most of them are made specifically for children--unless your company's name is Pixar.  Things like story isn't that big of a deal.  They need to be basic and contain just enough meat for little ones to latch onto with their chompers.  Basically, the movie is about dancing penguins...and that's all the kids cared about.  And to be honest, that's pretty much the reason I watched it, too.

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