Top critical review
As visually stunning as ever, but slightly lesser in the story department
on September 19, 2014
THE FILM: The story this time around is a little more unfocused, with some superfluous characters, but the animation is just as impressive and voice cast is expanded in this sequel to the Academy Award-winning HAPPY FEET. In HAPPY FEET TWO, Mumble and Gloria have a son Erik who is having difficulty finding his place in the community. Will he sing? Will he dance? He doesn't know. Meanwhile, shifting Arctic ice traps the majority of the Emperor penguin colony and Mumble goes to off to find help. What I noticed as different this time was that there wasn't as much singing/dancing. This was an element that really enriched the first one and made me enjoy it a little more. The story in this sequel had less of that, and at times was a little dull and borderline depressing. Still, there is a happy ending because, you know, it's a kid's movie. Also, while it was nice to have a larger cast full of recognizable voices, a couple of the characters they play were largely unnecessary and distracting to the overall story-line. The two biggest offenders, despite how entertaining they were to watch, were Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as two krill. Why were they in the movie? Who knows? They never interacted with the main story in any meaningful way, and just seemed like an excuse to get a couple more big-name actors on the marquee. A little more understandable in terms of the themes is the inclusion of a puffin named Sven, who can fly. His primary function is to provide inspiration and guidance to Erik although, as penguins (and the audience) already know, they can't fly even if they wanted to. Despite the character being somewhat unneeded, Hank Azaria did a great job voicing him. The rest of the voice cast, some of which were replacements (Common for Fat Joe, and P!nk for Brittany Murphy), also did a good job, but P!nk was probably the least compelling of them all. She's a decent singer, but her acting could definitely use some work. Overall, the film was slightly less entertaining than its predecessor, but nonetheless enjoyable in its own right.
THE DISC: The animation was just as stunning this time around as in the first film, and it looks great on Blu-ray. Also, as with the first, there is a seamless blending of computer animation and actual people (in a couple scenes). Bottom line: this movie would make a great reference for a large HDTV. There's also some special features to enjoy after the film, although a little less this time than with the first one. The first featurette is a 12-minute educational film on Antarctica, its animal inhabitants and climate change, with the child actor who voiced Atticus. While interesting and informative, this short documentary is clearly aimed at children (like the film). Next up is a 5-minute featurette with the storyboard artist on how to draw a penguin. While you might think it teaches someone how to draw a penguin, it actually shows how the artist created Erik on the computer. Cool, but not what I expected. As on the previous movie, they include a Warner Brothers cartoon, but this time it's a computer animated Looney Tunes short instead of a classic, hand-drawn one. While it features a lot of the humor and gags one would expect from Looney Tunes, the computer animation didn't exactly feel right to me. Rounding out the extra material are three sing-alongs which should be fun for the kiddies.
OVERALL: This sequel isn't as good as the first one, but the visuals are eye-popping and the musical numbers are just as entertaining. The extras are also decent, so it makes sense to purchase this if you enjoyed the first HAPPY FEET.