Happy Feet Two

17 Dec

Title: Happy Feet Two
Year: 2011
Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Gary Eck, Warren Coleman, Paul Livingston
Starring: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Pink, Sofia Vergara, Common, Hugo Weaving, Richard Carter, Magda Szubanski, Anthony LaPaglia, Ava Acres
MPAA Rating: PG, some rude humor and mild peril
Runtime: 100 min
IMDb Rating: 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Metacritic: 50


Of the eight films Pixar has released since the inception of the Best Animated Feature Academy Award six have gone on to win the award. One of those losses came when Cars, the first underwhelming Pixar film ever (the second one being this year’s sequel to that film) lost to Happy Feet, a film about a penguin that had a really neat storyline, catchy musical numbers a helluva lot of visual flair. Sadly, Happy Feet Two won’t follow that tradition, and I’m guessing won’t even get a nomination. It’s not as though the film’s bad, because it honestly isn’t, but what really made the first one stand out as that the narrative was really good and had a really solid story on which to then display the eye-popping visuals and charming little musical numbers. This time around however the narrative is just really messy, and even though the animation is seriously top notch you just can’t come even close to falling in love with the penguins.

Another thing is that I think the world’s had some penguin fatigue now. I mean, penguins are still my favorite animals and all, but when the first one came out the whole world was in some kind of penguin-love mode courtesy of March of the Penguins and subsequently Happy Feet. This time around it’s actually easy to resist the charms of dancing penguins, which may sound like blasphemy but this is just overloaded like crazy, and a huge step off from the original film that not even the hugely talented voice cast can hide, not even Brad Pitt and Matt Damon who, as Will and Bill the krills, are the best damn thing about this second trip to Antarctica, and I would buy the blu-ray of this film if I get promised a behind-the-scenes special feature of these two recording their parts. But that’s the thing, you’ll come in with expectations built up by the first one, and the truth is that this is much lighter in comparison, much less ambitious as far as the narrative goes, entertaining in that there are still penguins dancing and singing and being funny, but you might as well pop in the DVD of the first one and get just that.

The main character of the first movie, the penguin Mumble that’s voiced by Elijah Wood, is still around and this time he has a young son in tow named Erik, whom he had with Gloria, the female penguin voiced by Pink. So of course, much like we got in the first film, this time around we’ll take a look at the process of Erik finding himself, evolving into a penguin all of his own. We’ll also hear some stuff about melting glaciers but in a much less politically-tinged tone than we got in the first film, and this time around that will be used so that a glacier breaks off and leaves Penguin Nation isolated like an island which means there will be a rescue mission in play here. We also have the krills voiced by Mr. Damon and Mr. Pitt who are part of the bottom of the Antarctic food chain and survive only because they can break off of their swarms, and they just steal the movie, not just because the two actors are really good at voicing their shrimp-like bromance, but because George Miller when moving away from the penguins gives us really outstanding animated shots of these two krills. The fact that the two characters that we remember the most from the movie are not penguins, and that the best shots don’t involve penguins, obviously doesn’t bode well for a film about penguins.

The animation is obviously always stunning, it’s bright and attractive like it was in Puss in Boots which I saw a couple of weeks ago (and gave a B+ to), but unlike that film which was just concerned to have a lot of fun with its visuals and characters, this one just fails at that. I mean the songs give the characters something to do and indeed do provide a few fun moments, but we get to the point in which the characters start talking a lot, trying to impart lessons about family and self-worth, and you just can’t buy that in this one like you did in the first film. And it’s all because the story is really messy here, not one thing flows to the next in an organic fashion and you just can’t care about Erik’s storyline. Still, I’m giving this one a recommendation grade because I liked the animation and the voice cast, I thought Mr. Pitt and Mr. Damon were excellent, I thought Robin Williams reinstates that he’s genius as an animated character, Hank Azaria was awesome as Sven, and they’re the ones responsible for you to pay attention for a hundred minutes. It’s just a pity that this one takes so long to get going, and even sadder that once it gets going it’s still nothing resembling the first film, not even the musical numbers providing anything close to memorable.

Grade: B-


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: