HAPPY FEET TWO
Review by Gordon Justesen
Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Alecia Moore (Pink), Brad Pitt, Matt Damon,
Sofia Vergara, Common, Hugo Weaving, Richard Carter, Magda Szubanski, Anthony
Director: George Miller
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: March 13, 2012
“You, me, beautiful egg, right now!”
“You? Me? Fat chance!”
“I have a chance...and it is fat!”
I didn't see the original 2006 Happy Feet until about a month after it won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It managed to beat out Monster House, a movie I loved so much that I felt no other animated film that year was entitled to the award. However, upon seeing the animated chronicle of a clan of toe-tapping penguins, I found it to be a most endearing romp and fully understood why audiences fell in love with it.
So it was only inevitable that a sequel would soon surface. Happy Feet Two reunites director George Miller and most of the ensemble cast of voice talent from the first film, along with some new vocal talent bringing several new characters to life. In addition to Elijah Wood, Robin Williams and Hugo Weaving, the sequel features voices provided by the likes of Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria and pop star Pink.
And how does it fare? Well, when compared to the first movie, it's certainly a slight step down. The main flaw here is that, unlike its predecessor, the story simply isn't as engaging. The first time around, you really felt a connection to the penguin clan and worried about their survival, whereas this sequel basically feels like an extended musical number in search of a story.
Now, if we're grading on terms of animation, this one actually surpasses the already high standard set by the first movie. And to think that was even possible! Director Miller and his team of animators have gone the extra mile to ensure a fantastic looking piece of computer animation...and truth be told, this might actually be the best looking animated film of 2011!
And the music numbers are pretty amazing, for the most part. Pop star Pink, who voices the role of Gloria (previously voiced by the late Brittany Murphy) has a heart-stopping musical performance midway through the film. And the use of Queen and David Bowie's “Under Pressure” is without question the highlight of the entire movie!
But story wise, this pretty much a retread of the first one. Mumble (Wood) is now all grown up. His young son, Erik (voiced by Ava Acres) turns out to be the exact type of shy dancer that his father was at his age. After being teased by the other penguins, Erik and two of his friends leave the penguin colony in search of adventure, with Mumble chasing after them...only to eventually discover that an iceberg has broken from an ice shelf, trapping the rest of the penguin clan in a large canyon.
We also get two side stories. One involving a pair of krill fish named Will and Bill (hilariously voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon), who get separated from their own underwater clan. But as funny as the vocal performances are here, this entire subplot doesn't seem to really connect to the main story line. The other side story involves that of Sven (voiced by Hank Azaria), a flying penguin who claims to have been saved by humans.
There is quite a lot to appreciate about Happy Feet Two, most notably the amazing animation (I kinda wish I had caught the movie theatrically in 3D) and the many musical numbers. But as far as the story goes, there doesn't seem to be much conflict and all of the lessons we learn are ones I swore the first film already taught me. All in all, a harmless but inferior sequel.
BEAUTY! That's the first word that leaps to mind when thinking about the video quality of this Blu-ray release from Warner. I remember seeing the first movie on standard DVD and thinking to myself, “this is as great looking as it gets”. But of course, that was before I discovered Blu-ray and, to be more specific...computer animated movies on Blu-ray...and Happy Feet Two is one of the best looking presentations you will EVER see on the format. Every inch of detail regarding this frigid environment is captured so magnificently well, and the colors are rendered so gorgeously that, quite frankly, you won't want to leave this world because it is so consistently beautiful to gaze upon in the 1080p!
A DTS HD mix combined with a musically driven film? How couldn't this fail? From the very first musical number that starts off the movie, your sound system is going to have a rockin good time delivering all of the frequent jams in addition to several action sequences that also do a good working on the surround sound. Dialogue delivery and background noise are also at a superb, top-notch quality!
Included on this Warner Blu-ray release is an interactive feature called “The Happy Feet Two Movie App Second Screen”, which requires you to download the app to either your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Once you do that, you can sync up the app with the Blu-ray for a neat interactive presentation featuring games, sing-alongs and some behind the scenes footage while the movie plays. Also on hand are a number of featurettes, including “Helping Penguins and Pals”, which reveals the habitats of real Antarctic penguins and their predators, “How to Draw a Penguin”, which details the drawing and illustration of penguins for the movie, “Running with Boadicea”, which takes a look at this characters various maneuvers, “The Amazing Voices of Happy Feet Two”, which reveals the many famous actors who voice the characters. Rounding out the extras are “I Taw I Taw A Puddy Tat”, an animated short featuring Tweety and Sylvester, a section on the music, featuring a look at the new song by Pink, as well as several sing-alongs including "The Mighty Sven", "Bridge of Light" and "Papa OOomMow Mow", and a BD-Live Portal.
This Combo Pack also comes complete with a bonus DVD edition of the movie, which also contains an UltraViolet Digital Copy.
While definitely not a waste of time like so many sequels are these days, Happy Feet Two is just not as endearing or enthralling as its predecessor. While more attention was definitely applied to the gorgeous animation and many musical numbers, the story lacks cohesiveness in addition to repeating several bits from the first movie. But again, this Blu-ray from Warner is without question a piece of visual BEAUTY!