‘Happy Feet Two’ Review
While it takes a very mediocre and haphazard forty minutes to find its footing, the film becomes a pleasant animated adventure that will bring a smile to your face if not anything more.
In 2006, ‘Happy Feet’ charmed audiences to a golden box-office and an Oscar win that broke Pixar’s winning streak. Five years later, the dancing penguins are back for another round with ‘Happy Feet Two’. And while it takes a very mediocre and haphazard forty minutes to find its footing, the film becomes a pleasant animated adventure that will bring a smile to your face if not anything more.
Once again set in Antartica, the film follows Mumble who was the foot tapping penguin from the first movie. He now has a son Erik who’s afraid of dancing and runs away from the gang, bumping into a might penguin called Sven who can actually fly. But things go wrong once environmental forces lead to the pack of penguins being trapped without food or any form of help. They realise that they have to keep hope alive and come together to overcome the obstacle. Somehow, two tiny Krills named Will and Bill are unlikely heroes in the story.
The problem with a story like ‘Happy Feet’ is that it was a self-contained film of its own that actually told a pretty competent story that ended effectively. It’s not exactly like ‘Ice Age’ where adventures can continue in different times so a sequel was always a risky project. The question would be – what would the film be about? And that’s what the film continues to ask itself through the first half of the film.
We begin the film with an elaborate song and dance sequence that effectively introduces us to all the characters once again and we see how the characters have changed since we last saw them. And it’s really cute to see the dance as well as Erik’s attempt to dance for the first time. However, here’s what the problem is. The film scrambles to find a narrative to follow throughout the first forty minutes. There’s no real story here and the film jumps from subplot to subplot without much of a connecting thread. Soon after the dance sequence, Erik goes and meets Sven and that leads into a whole new dance sequence that leads into a flashback. Though all these elements later come into play in the film, this particular segment feels very disjointed and lacking in a hook that engages the audience. The result is a very dull start that doesn’t bode well for the film since it seems like they had nothing new to tell with this instalment and just went with whatever they could find.
But thankfully, things quickly change for the better as a major event begins to form the narrative of the film. There are now genuine stakes and an actual obstacle to overcome which suddenly makes the film much more streamlined and enjoyable to watch. From this point on, audiences will have a good time watching the film and it definitely manages to be cute and funny at the same time. It’s not as funny as the first one and more dramatic in tone, but it never really feels too heavy-handed. The highlights of the movie are the two Krills Will and Bill voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. Their scenes have the cleverest banter and manage to entertain you at all times, and even end with a direct connection to the plot itself. One thing that takes away from the film at times is the jarring placements of the song sequences that sometimes either run too long or are not really needed in the narrative. The exception is one that comes towards the end which ends up being a great surprise.The visuals are gorgeous to look at and the 3-D also manages to add to the vibrant colors of the film and really shine during the grand action scenes of the film. The ending is effective and manages to teach children a lesson along the way. It’s never extremely powerful stuff, but as an enjoyable animated adventure aimed for kids it does the job if only during the second half.
‘Happy Feet Two’ doesn’t always justify its existence and lacks significantly during a confused first half, but it soars during the second half with moments of cuteness and funny that make it a worthy addition to fans of the first film.