Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Feet Two (George Miller, Gary Eck and David Peers, 2011) Review

I have a large, large number of films on my watch list, some of which I'm ashamed to admit to not seeing. Fight Club, Django Unchained, The Godfather, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and so on. I naturally went with the strangest one on my list after receiving a free month of Amazon's Prime streaming...thingy in the post (thank you, Amazon) and that is the sequel to Happy Feet naturally called Happy Feet least they were honest with the title.

Years after the first film, Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Pink) now have a son named Erik (Ava Acres) who ironically doesn't share his father's love of dancing. After running off, Erik encounters a flying 'penguin' named Sven (Hank Azaria) who becomes a role model for Erik. Mumble finds Erik and the two return home before learning that the shift in ice has trapped the entire colony in a chasm leaving Mumble having to call in favours from previous encounters to rescue the other penguins. In a bizzare subplot, we follow two krill named Will (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Matt Damon) as Bill is dragged along on Will's journey to rise up the food chain.

I'm going to start with my biggest compliment before I get to the weird stuff and is that the animation is simply wonderful. Happy Feet Two is a delight to watch visually. The backgrounds are gorgeous and the character models have improved since the first and it's evident that the animators have found a more stylised look. There is a lot going on on-screen and, surprising for a film about black and white creatures in the snow, the colours stand out (especially evident during the finale of 'Under Pressure' which is easily the film's highlight). In addition the voice acting is also good. Brad Pitt and Matt Damon are hands-down the best people in the film while new addition Hank Azaria is his usual fun, zany self. The questionable cast member is Pink. She's good but in terms of replacing the late Brittney Murphy, she doesn't quite work. I'm also dissapointed at how under-used Robin Williams is. There's one thing you don't do with Robin Williams and that is restrain him.

Now...this is a bizzare film. Some of the decisions that went into making are just plain weird. The writing, music, use of narrative's just plain weird. To start with, the plot doesn't actually start until about half way in. The first half is just spent introducing concepts that are used in the finale. That would be smart if the film was long enough and didn't waste time getting to the plot...but it's not and it did we are. Erik's singing voice was also of some concern. They didn't really try hiding the fact that it was just some one pitch shifted. Are there just no high-pitched singers or something? Happy Feet Two also falls into the common sequel trap of not using it's exiting characters well and simply pushing their new characters which was one of the many reasons Cars 2 failed. Mumble's parents are nowhere to be seen...not even mentioned. Give use Hugh Jackman, damn it! That reminds me that Hugo Weaving is in'd barely know it but...he is in the smallest role there is. Yes, he was in the first one but we serves no purpose at all in this one.

I don't necessarily hate Happy Feet Two. In fact, I had more fun watching it than the first and is more memorable but that doesn't necessarily mean it's better. I could quote you more from The Room than from The Shawshank Redemption but it doesn't mean it's good. In a strange way, I'm kind of glad I saw this. The krill subplot appeals to my more silly side and we have that great 'Under Pressure' scene to take away from this but the rest...I just don't even know what kind of strange decisions went down in the making of this film.

The animation is wonderful but the rest is just a weird concoction of...weirdness...This is a weird, weird film.

You know what's weirder though? There's a video game based on this How is that possible?

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