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In the great nation of Emperor Penguins, deep in Antarctica, you're nobody unless you can sing - which is unfortunate for Mumble, who is the worst singer in the world. He is born dancing to his own tune...tap dancing. As fate would have it, his one friend, Gloria, happens to be the best singer around. Mumble and Gloria have a connection from the moment they hatch, but she struggles with his strange "hippity- hoppity" ways. Away from home for the first time, Mumble meets a posse of decidedly un-Emperor-like penguins - the Adelie Amigos. Led by Ramon, the Adelies instantly embrace Mumble's cool dance moves and invite him to party with them. In Adelie Land, Mumble seeks the counsel of Lovelace the Guru, a crazy-feathered Rockhopper penguin who will answer any of life's questions for the price of a pebble. Together with Lovelace and the Amigos, Mumble sets out across vast landscapes and, after some epic encounters, proves that by being true to yourself, you can make all the difference in the world.
For more about Happy Feet and the Happy Feet Blu-ray release, see Happy Feet Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 13, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Anthony LaPaglia
Director: George Miller
» See full cast & crew
Happy Feet Blu-ray Review
As "Happy Feet" dances its way onto Blu-ray, will it leave you with a smile on your face?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 13, 2008
Penguins sure do seem to be popular these days. Not only is the hockey team that bears that name cruising through the NHL playoffs (sorry Ottawa, New York, and Philadelphia), but these cute flightless birds have been the centerpiece of three hit movies over the past few years: March of the Penguins, Surf's Up, and Happy Feet, the 2006 hit film that boasts one of the most impressive voice casts ever assembled, including Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire), Elijah Wood (Deep Impact), Brittany Murphy (TV's King of the Hill), Hugh Jackman (The Prestige), Nicole Kidman (The Golden Compass), and Hugo Weaving (V For Vendetta). The result is a film where we barely recognize any of the voices, which is a good thing -- the characters are so good, from the animation to their personalities that the voices become the characters. The only voice that truly stands out is that of Robin Williams, but only because of a few trademark Williams' lines that do tend to stand out above the rest.
Every Penguin needs to sing. It's a basic right-of-passage, the means by which they attract a mate. Each has their own unique song inside, known as the "heartsong." As it turns out Norma Jean (Kidman) and Memphis (Jackman), discover one another through the gift of song, and soon enough find themselves with an egg, inside of which is their baby. When Norma Jean and the other mothers-to-be leave to fish (the entire first act of the film, it seems, is a recap of March of the Penguins with some song and dance thrown in), Memphis is left to care for the egg, which he does proudly. Unfortunately, the egg one day escapes his warm body and finds itself exposed to the brutal elements for only a few moments, risking the baby's development and life. Later on, once all the other eggs have begun to hatch, Memphis and Norma Jean's egg remains motionless, but in the fashion of better late than never, little Mumble (Wood) emerges with a peculiar spring in his step.
As it turns out, Mumble just cannot sing. His voice cracks under the strain of melody, and it is feared he will never be able to lead a normal penguin life. He's rejected by his fellow penguins and sets out on his own. Befriended by some shorter-in-stature penguins, Mumble returns home with some startling news -- he may have discovered aliens. Upon his return to his home, he tries to woo the accepting Gloria (Murphy) with the help of a few of his new friends, but his tap-dancing charades are once again rejected by the group's elders, and their lack of fresh fish is blamed on their god's anger at Mumble's odd ways. Mumble sets out to prove once and for all that aliens do exist, and that it is they -- not him, and definitely not his dancing -- that have dried up the supply of fish.
There is no denying that Happy Feet turns from a cute-and-cuddly story of "the little penguin that could" to a film with heavy political overtones, a move that is sure to disenchant some viewers who want to get their fill of politics on the local news, not at a children's movie that features dancing penguins. Younger audiences are less likely to care, and the youngest will probably find themselves confused during the film's final act that blends real-life human characters with animation. Bothered or not by the infusion of a 'message' in what should be a 'happy' children's movie, there is enough here to like and thus overlook that aspect of the film, should you choose to do so. The film's superb animation, excellent use of sound, and several exciting and touching sequences make the first two-thirds of the film easily watchable, fun, and heartwarming.
Happy Feet Blu-ray, Video Quality
Happy Feet tap dances across your screen and into your living room in a beautiful 1080p, 2.40:1 framed visual masterpiece. The terrific animation the film boasts is reproduced brilliantly on this Blu-ray. Even though the colors we see on the screen are mostly shades of white and blue, they are so crystal-clear and sharp that we can't help but to sit in awe of how good the movie looks, even though much of the plot leaves little time to become distracted. Detail is as strong as the animation allows it to be, the disc only limited to what the artists have chosen to show us. The arctic setting doesn't have intricate detail to offer in many shots, and overall there just isn't as much going on in the background and foreground as there is in your standard-fare Pixar flick (like Ratatouille, for example), but what is here looks terrific. The image is pristine, as expected of a new animated film. The animators have created an standout visual experience. There is a breathtaking amount of depth and clarity throughout the movie. For example, rock faces are incredibly three-dimensional, and scenes such as that in chapter 19 when Mumble is surrounded by the seals truly have a depth that's second-to-none. The image practically invites you to walk into the proceedings, and it's one of the best looking scenes on one of the best looking Blu-ray discs available today.
Happy Feet Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Happy Feet's Dolby Digital 5.1 track is one of the best I've heard yet, this lossy mix certainly no slouch, leaving me only to wonder just how good a high definition mix could have been. Nevertheless, it'll have your feet dancing the entire time, and you are almost guaranteed to grin ear-to-ear as you ooh and ah at how much fun this track is to hear. Through the entirety of the movie, surrounds are put to exquisite use, the film's music managing to find its way seamlessly to the rear channels, and right from the opening musical number we're treated to a fine blending of sound, the numerous songs woven together wonderfully reproduced. Dialogue is also crucial to the picture, and its reproduction is nothing short of top-notch. We hear some great effects in the rear channels, too. The blowing of a wind in chapter 20 sounds so good you can almost feel the chill sweep the entire soundstage. An underwater swimming scene in chapter 8 immerses us in the frigid water as the sound and pressure below the surface fill the room sonically. The subwoofer rumbled with an authoritative presence, rattling my seat on occasion and adding tension to some of the most exciting sequences in the film. In chapter 21, when a whale splashes down into the water, we feel like its landing on top of us, crushing us with its weight and submerging us underneath the water. The audience also feels a boat bearing down as it breaks through the ice in the following chapter. This is one of the absolute best lossy mixes available on home video today, and only the lack of its presentation in high-definition keeps it from receiving top marks.
Happy Feet Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
An otherwise strong disc is marred by the lack of a strong supplemental package. Two additional scenes lead off the extras and prove to be the best bonus features on this disc. Mumble Meets a Blue Whale (1080p, 3:31) is an extra scene that features an additional character with the voice of the late Steve Irwin, and an introduction with director George Miller. A Happy Feet Moment (1080p, 0:31) is yet another scene, this one a stand-alone with no introduction. Moving along to a section of the supplements entitled "Fun + Games" is I Love to Singa (480p, 8:13), an old Looney Tunes cartoon. Dance Like a Penguin: Stomp to the Beat (480p, 5:21) is a dance lesson from famous dancer Savion Glover, the man behind the moves of Mumble. Two music videos are next, one by Gia entitled Hit Me Up (480p, 3:21), and the other entitled The Song of the Heart (480p, 3:00) by Prince. Finally, the film's theatrical trailer (480p, 1:21) concludes this disc's supplemental package.
Happy Feet Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Happy Feet is a film that should leave most filmgoers, well, happy, with at least a portion of what the movie has to offer. Political overtones aside, the film does offer some good life lessons about the importance of acceptance and character, and living the life you feel you're meant to live, utilizing your own unique talents. The movie also features first-rate animation, oftentimes leaving viewers breathless with just how good it looks. The voice acting is also impressive; rarely did I find myself thinking about the actor portraying the voice rather than staying focused on the story. From a technical perspective, this disc is one of the best efforts from Warner Brothers yet. The picture quality is pristine, as is the audio, at least so far as a Dolby Digital-only track can be. The supplemental package doesn't offer much in the way of substance, a couple of deleted scenes the highlight of what's included. Overall, this is a disc that is well worth adding to your collection if you enjoyed the movie. Recommended.
Happy Feet: Other Editions
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Happy Feet Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Happy Feet Two Blu-ray - January 17, 2012
In March, Warner Home Entertainment will bring Happy Feet Two to Blu-ray. This animated sequel to the Academy Award-winning 2006 feature finds Mumble (Elijah Wood, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) trying to help his son Erik (Ava Acres, Weeds: Season Six) realize ...
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