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Picking up shortly after the original movie's end, Bambi follows his father, the Great Prince, into the forest after his mother's death and the Great Prince must teach the young fawn...
For more about Bambi II and the Bambi II Blu-ray release, see Bambi II Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 21, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Brian Pimental
Writer: Alicia Kirk
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Alexander Gould, Keith Ferguson, Brendon Baerg, Nicky Jones, Andrea Bowen
» See full cast & crew
Bambi II Blu-ray Review
"I think it's best to leave the past in the past. A Prince does not look back. Only ahead." Um...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 21, 2011
Disney had a brief fling with animated midquels -- called such because, chronologically, a midquel falls snuggly within (or, in some cases, runs parallel to) the timeline of its predecessor -- that led to (at least) five misbegotten direct-to-video films. It's a fling I hope the studio isn't anxious to indulge in again. Whereas prequels are the cinematic equivalent of on-rail shooters, midquels tend to be trite and wholly unnecessary; undermining their original films (or beloved classics, in Disney's case) and spinning their wheels in the narrative mud. First came Disney's storybook within a storybook, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. Harmless, kid-friendly entertainment, sure, but a misfire all the same. Next, came meta-midquel The Lion King 1½, followed by the easiest-to-stomach of the midquels, Tarzan II. But in 2006, Disney did the unthinkable, delving even deeper into its catalog with The Fox and the Hound 2, a film that neutered its progenitor with a painful, wince-inducing procedure as misguided as it was inconsequential. That same year, the studio also released Bambi II, a less offensive but equally frivolous midquel young kids will adore, older kids will ignore, and adults who grew up watching Bambi will either shun or shrug off.
Did you ever wonder what happened to Bambi in the months following the tragic death of his mother? No? Me either. Someone did, though, and Bambi II is the result. Unfortunately, the midquel-makers seem to have little understanding of what made the original Bambi the haunting, heart-wrenching and, ultimately, unforgettable classic it is. Whereas Bambi and his friends of the forest were once quiet creatures of simple means, Bambi II turns them into another chatty band of talking-animal misadventurers; whereas the first film was a meditation on the natural circle of life and the inescapable cycle of death, Disney's 2006 midquel is lighter, flimsier fluff that feigns poignance and meaning but delivers a string of meager life lessons recycled from dozens of better animated films. And the story? Overcrowded and underwhelming. Bambi (voiced by Alexander Gould) tries to win the approval of his father, the Great Prince of the Forest (Patrick Stewart), with the help of best friends Thumper (Brendon Baerg) and Flower (Nicky Jones); Friend Owl (Keith Ferguson) attempts to find a doe who can raise the now-motherless fawn so the Great Prince can focus on his career... ahem, princely responsibilities; Faline (Andrea Bowen) tries to nuzzle up to Bambi, all the while rejecting the advances of a young bully named Ronno (Anthony Ghannam); and Bambi is left to contend with his fear of the meadow, the loss of his mother, the distance of his father and the mantle he'll one day inherit.
Bambi II has real potential. Fear, loss, distance, inherited responsibilities... somewhere between the silly groundhog shadow-games, the porcupine hijinks, the sappy father-son heartstrings, the montages and the uplifting songs is, dare I say, a relevant, suitably profound successor to Bambi waiting to be born. But that successor never comes. Instead, the midquel panders, slights itself, and casts aside the qualities that made the original film so powerful. The fawn prince is terrified of the meadow and inevitably confronts it without achieving much of note. He grieves for his mother, but only intermittently and, even then, in the confines of daydreams and questions posed to dear old dad; the tremors of her death are felt, but just barely. After a sobering opening, she's quickly forgotten and only resurrected when the writers need to twist a few heart-screws. Worse, Bambi desperately tries to connect with his father, only to eventually do just that in a series of scenes that completely, completely neglect and impair the long-established relationship between Bambi and the Great Prince in the latter half of the original film. Here, the Great Prince isn't an enigma or a creature of few words or deafening silence, he's just a flawed buck doing the best he can to influence a son he's ill-equipped to raise. (Single-parenting commentary, anyone?) The magic of Bambi has always stemmed from the fact that it remains that rare talking-animal film that treats its animals as much like real animals as it possibly can; animals with animal issues, animal instincts, animal philosophies, animal emotions and animal reactions, not as thinly veiled anthropomorphic cyphers of modern family dynamics, human hangups and two-legged struggles.
Still, separated from the original, Bambi II has a certain appeal, even if that appeal rests in a younger demographic. Kids won't care how the midquel fits within the context of the first film, nor will they notice how radically different its tone, themes, characters and subplots actually are. They won't mind the songs, they won't behoove its fun little romps through the forest, they won't raise an eyebrow at its aimless sequences, or scoff at its many, many missed opportunities. No, they'll laugh, smile and cheer as Bambi plays with Thumper and Flower, battles hunting dogs, leaps chasms, stands up to bullies and slowly wins his father's respect. They'll cower when unseen hunters fire rifles and when snarling hounds snap at Bambi's heels, and beam when their favorite fawn isn't forced to endure any life-altering hardships as he did once upon a time when he lost his mother and braved a raging forest fire. Given the choice, my six-year-old would probably choose Bambi II over Bambi, although I don't have the heart to ask him. Not that I wouldn't understand his answer. Disney's midquel isn't challenging or demanding, and it certainly won't weigh heavily on a young mind or scar a new generation of kids. For those reasons, and those reasons alone, Bambi II earns a slight pass. (Perhaps one with an asterisk.) I may not love it, but my son does. He won't love it twenty years from now, but I would imagine his children will. And, as any parent will tell you, sometimes that's enough, superficial direct-to-video midqueling or no.
Bambi II Blu-ray, Video Quality
Bambi II scampers onto Blu-ray with a sure-footed 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation that doesn't slip or stumble. Colors are rich and beautiful, contrast is bright and lovely and black levels are pleasant and satisfying. Whether its the chilly white expanse of a snowy forest, the lush golden fields of a dream, the playful greens of a budding spring, or the red skies of a setting sun, everything is as striking as it should be. The animators' crisp, clean lineart is impeccably rendered as well, without any substantial aliasing, ringing, pixelation or unsightly imperfections to speak of. Likewise, artifacting and other compression anomalies don't creep into the proceedings, banding is kept to a minimum (even if a few, minor instances slip through), and there wasn't a moment where my eyes settled on any real issue of note. The midquel may not soar, but Disney's polished and proficient encode certainly does.
Bambi II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't quite as memorable as Bambi II's video presentation, but it doesn't disappoint either. Not in the slightest. Voices are clear, chipper and nicely centered, snapping branches and rustling leaves are sharp and soothing (respectively), and snarling dogs and snapping rifles give the LFE channel several choice opportunities. Low-end output isn't exactly remarkable, but it's more than adequate. Rear speaker activity isn't as aggressive as Bambi's bloodthirsty pursuers, but it is engaging and in keeping with the tone and tenor of the film. And dynamics and directional effects aren't startling, but they are convincing, enveloping the listener with ease. Little falls short really, well... other than the film's decidedly direct-to-video sound design, which tends to favor the front channels and allow forest ambience to come and go as its mixers please. Otherwise, there isn't much to complain about, meaning audiophiles of all ages will have one more thing to smile about.
Bambi II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Bambi II doesn't offer much in the way of extras, unless a trivia track, a few kids' games, a deleted song and two standard definition mini-featurettes are enough for you and yours.
Bambi II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Bambi II is no Bambi, and the less time you spend comparing the two, the more enjoyable director Brian Pimental's 2006 midquel will become. Younger kids will love it regardless, of course, and, as direct-to-video family fare goes, it's more bearable than most. Disney's Blu-ray release will take some of the sting out of the film as well. With a crisp, colorful video presentation and a solid DTS-HD Master Audio track, the midquel's emaciated supplemental package is the only downside I see.
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Bambi II Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Bambi II Blu-ray $5 Off Coupon - August 18, 2011
Disney is currently offering a coupon for $5 off Bambi II. The offer for the 2006 direct-to-video feature, which comes in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, is valid until August 28th, 2011. This deal applies to the U.S. and Canada only.
• Prom and Bambi II $8 Off Coupons - May 25, 2011
Amazon has a new promotion up with $8 off coupons when you pre-order Disney's Prom or Bambi II Blu-ray + DVD combo releases. Both titles are up for pre-order and are set to release this summer.
• Bambi II Blu-ray - May 20, 2011
On August 23rd, 2011, Walt Disney Studios will release Bambi II on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. This 2006 sequel to the classic Disney story follows Bambi and his father, the Great Prince, as they navigate through the ways of the forest. Bambi II features Patrick ...
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