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Happy Feet Two(2011)
Mumble the penguin has a problem: his son Erik, who is reluctant to dance, encounters The Mighty Sven, a penguin who can fly! Things get worse for Mumble when the world is shaken by powerful forces, causing him to brings together the penguin nations and their allies to set things right.
For more about Happy Feet Two and the Happy Feet Two Blu-ray release, see Happy Feet Two Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Pink, Sofía Vergara, Common, Brad Pitt
Director: George Miller
» See full cast & crew
Happy Feet Two Blu-ray Review
Schallange! Tappity tap tap tapitty tap tap shhhhfff tipitty tap tappity tap. Schallange!
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 28, 2012
How could so much happen in 100 minutes without much of anything happening in 100 minutes? It's a question probably best saved for the likes of Happy Feet Two's fearlessly existential krill Will (Brad Pitt) and his dutiful friend Bill (Matt Damon), but it's also the question that plagued me while plowing through director George Miller's sequel to his 2006 animated hit (which took home an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature). There's certainly a lot of movie crammed into Happy Feet Two -- more music, more dancing, more jokes, more life lessons, more Antarctic adventure, more of everything people love about the original -- but it's more for more's sake. There isn't much rhyme, reason or rhythm to its fuller, flashier story, and it never really feels like Miller and his team had a grand idea that warranted a sequel. Nope, it was the first film's box office returns that gave birth to this particular monstrosity, and it shows in every aimless riff, desperate landing and soulless bit of soul-searching Miller tosses into this feathery fiasco.
So what is Happy Feet Two about? The fallacies of organized religion and the perils of devoting oneself to the teachings of a zealous figurehead. Seriously. Whether that offends or tickles your sensibilities is, frankly, beside the point. Miller doesn't have a firm grasp on subtlety or shrewdness, rendering his sermon -- humanist, self-reliant or environmental -- moot. The polar ice caps are melting, but it's merely set dressing and plot propulsion. A puffin called the Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria) is posing as a flying, miracle-weaving, moss-growing penguin, attracting the worship of hundreds of enlightened disciples, but it's merely a one-dimensional means to a familiar, forced end. Worse, once you strip away all the trivialities and inconsequential filler, the story is woefully underdeveloped. Mumble (Elijah Wood) is back, this time with a child of his own: Erik, a baby penguin led astray by Sven's silver tongue, flapping wings, and tricks of the prophet trade. But Miller doesn't even have the patience to stick with his convictions, as the second act continually detours into episodic territory. Will and Bill star in their own multi-part mini-movie (Scrat style, albeit with way more screentime), Mumble saves Bryan the Beach Master (Richard Carter) and out-swims a vicious sea lion, drifting ice traps the Emperor penguins in a valley, Sven makes passes at Mumble's mate Gloria (Alecia Moore), seabirds attack, helpful humans arrive and play electric guitar aboard their ship for the birds (yep, you read that correctly), and Mumble, Erik, Gloria, Ramón (Robin Williams) and their singing, dancing brethren work together to survive and adapt to the sudden upheaval.
There's more -- much more -- but none of it makes Happy Feet Two any more cohesive or any less disjointed. Miller has essentially condensed four separate sequels into one slippery, slimy mess, complete with jittery Robin Williams improv, countless musical numbers, dead-end plot threads, a dose of environmental awareness, and live-action human co-stars (more on that in a bit). But no real protagonist emerges; there are just too many characters vying for attention. No real point to the film comes to light; there's too much going on. No musical style evolves; there's a touch of everything, often dispensed at random. And laughs, chills and cheers are too few and too far between. It's never clear whether this is Mumble's story, Erik's, Sven's, Will and Bill's, or if the focus is really just meant to shift as rapidly and jarringly as it does. And the catastrophes and cataclysms don't end there. The dialogue is generic, the performances are spirited but slight, Williams' incessant babbling is irritating, and the singing and dancing tends to come and go with the wind. Or as Miller wills it, whichever you prefer. My son, meanwhile, grew bored long before Sven leads the penguins in a bizarre yet redemptive round of Mya hee! Mya hoo! Mya ha ha! Ironically, it's Will and Bill's plight he and I followed intently. Mumble and his fellow penguins were little more than distractions scattered between Krill scenes. If Happy Feet Two had been an entirely different film about two wandering Krill, I suspect this would be an entirely different, far more positive review. By the same token, if Happy Feet Two had simply followed in the footsteps of Toy Story 3 and other richer, deeper, more dazzling animated sequels, I wouldn't have had to rest my hope on the backs of two bantering invertebrates. (What's dancing for, Will? "Perhaps it's a momentary relief from the existential terrors of existence!")
What little praise I'm prepared to offer anything other than Will and Bill centers around the sequel's stunning animation and head-bobbing songs (arbitrary as the retooled hits and joyous covers often are). Any emotion is derived from the visuals and the music, even when live-action actors waddle alongside Miller's CG-animated penguins. (Which, once you get used to the live-action/animation mash-up, is striking in its own right.) Any power stems from the stirring vistas, snow-slinging chases, underwater hijinks, and genre-hopping beats. Unfortunately, very little of all that (save the penguin-pals' rendition of Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure") has much to offer in the cerebral, character-driven or story-enriching realms. All the spectacular shots and toe-tapping tunes a family film can muster can't save it from a sloppy narrative, a mediocre script and haphazard storytelling. Happy Feet Two may look and sound the part, but it's devoid of the things that make a great film great, a moving classic moving, or a timeless animated adventure timeless. For all its pomp and circumstance, the sequel doesn't deliver on the potential of the first movie (itself a flawed, arguably undeserving Oscar winner) or on the promise of its bigger, bolder trappings. It shakes, rattles and rolls. It dips, shimmies and slides. It sings, dances and spins. But it doesn't amount to much of anything, other than a 100-minute ball of kinetic energy. There will no doubt be families who adore Happy Feet Two; children who love it for its visuals and music; parents who adore it in spite of its shortcomings. And they shouldn't feel the need to apologize, even for a second. For me, though, there are too many extraordinary animated features on the market to waste much time with a subpar sequel that can't even figure out what it wants to be when it grows up.
Happy Feet Two Blu-ray, Video Quality
The waters of Happy Feet Two may be muddy and murky, but the waters of Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer are crystal clear. Regardless of how you feel about the film itself, it's next to impossible to walk away from the sequel without praising its presentation. Colors are bright, bold and beautiful, primaries scorch the Antarctic snow, mossy greens and krill-y oranges pop, black levels are rich and satisfying, and contrast doesn't falter for a second, even when the sun sets or a penguin plunges beneath the waves. Detail is straight-from-the-digital-tap perfect as well, with jaw-dropping textures, gorgeous puffs of chilled air and dusted snow, and exceedingly crisp edges, none of which exhibit any troubling ringing. The encode is about as pristine as they come actually, minus the tiniest hints of banding that appear during underwater sequences (like Mumble's escape from the sea lion). Macroblocking, aliasing, significant banding and other anomalies simply aren't at play, and Happy Feet Two couldn't look much better than it does here.
Happy Feet Two Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Oh, the sights and sounds of Happy Feet Two. Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is an ice-cracking, glacier-moving, foot-stomping sensation, full of real soul, spirit and surprises. The LFE channel gets behind every rock anthem, sliding mountain, snarling sea lion, crashing wave and crumbling cliff Mumble and Erik encounter, and both the music and the film's action/adventure sequences shake, rattle and roll the floor. The rear speakers are equally engaging, with plenty of warbling penguin colonies, lapping waters, crunching snow, shifting earth and swarming krill to go around. The resulting soundfield washes over the listener, tossing out directional effects as if they were candy. All the while, dynamics and dialogue never slip or stumble. The faintest shuffling foot and the weightiest Beach Master plop are showcased wonderfully, and every voice and line, even those delivered by little Ava Acres, are as intelligible and impeccably prioritized as they should be. If nothing else, Happy Feet Two's AV presentation will help soothe the sting of the film.
Happy Feet Two Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Happy Feet Two Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Happy Feet Two slips and slides all over the ice. It isn't graceful, engrossing or touching. It isn't meaningful or memorable. It can't even decide what story it wants to tell. It looks good, it sounds amazing... and yet it all feels so empty. At least the same can't be said of Warner's Blu-ray release. Though light on extras, the studio's stunning video transfer and rafter-rockin' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track steal the show. Ultimately, I would suggest renting Happy Feet Two. If the film's dazzling animation and move-to-the-beat music sweep you and your family away, then a purchase will be a no-brainer. If the story and characters leave you cold, though, you'll have saved enough to pick up a better animated feature.
Happy Feet Two: Other Editions
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Happy Feet Two 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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