Bambi II VHS
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A sequel to the 1942 Disney classic, Bambi, is laden with expectations since audiences are justifiably protective of this beloved tale abounding with enchantment and nostalgia. Rest assured: Bambi II rises to the occasion, succeeding at every turn. Brian Pimental directs the 70-minute direct-to-video release, which seamlessly integrates the beauty, subtlety, and essence of the original film. The new tale is actually a "midquel" as it takes place in the middle of the original film's story line, exploring Bambi's coming-of-age challenges. The saga begins soon after Bambi's mother has died--and for viewers who shudder at the thought of having to relive that traumatic movie experience, you won't. With gentle inferences to her passing, Bambi (voiced by Alexander Gould, Finding Nemo) is left to the clumsy-though-well-meaning care of his father, the Great Prince (voiced by Patrick Stewart) who faces the difficult task of raising a son while silently mourning his own loss. Yet the weighty subject of death is soon overshadowed by the wonders of forest life. Through skillful storytelling, the film takes an early turn toward levity. After all, it's spring and Bambi's familiar friends, Thumper and Flower, are ready to play. Especially charming are the scenes where the forest animals give each other lessons in bravery and soon have a chance to test their mettle in scuffles with a newcomer to the mix, a blustering bully named Ronno (voiced by Anthony Ghannam). A strong soundtrack includes selections by Martina McBride, Michelle Lewis, Alison Krauss, and Anthony Callea. There is even a nostalgic nod to the original composer, Frank Churchill, with "Let's Sing a Gay Little Spring Song." The film's strength, however, is in its well-crafted humor: simple one-liners and animated antics that refrain from 21st century trends to cloak inappropriate innuendoes and double entendres in G-rated clothing, hoping to pander to an adult audience. This is vintage Disney; it panders to no one yet pleases all--delightfully worth the wait. The DVD's bonus material includes a "making-of" featurette, Bambi trivia, and a mini-tutorial with a Disney animator. (All ages) --Lynn Gibson
"A delightful, enchanting sequel...worth the wait." -- Scott Mantz, Access Hollywood
"An entertaining family film worthy of the original." -- Bryan Erdy, NBC TV
"As heartwarming as the original!" -- Jason Matheson, Fox
"Destined to become another Disney classic." -- Jenna Maloney, Fox
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Really nothing from the book is here. But then, Disney used very little from the book save names and a few characters. As we know, Bambi's mother did not get killed in the book -- she did what does do, left her fawn longer and longer so he would get used to being by himself while she hangs out with the bucks during Rut.
In fact, in the book, it is Bambi who gets shot. He is only grazed but being hit with a thunderstick means death so he is positive he's dying until the Old Prince comes by and scolds him into getting up and moving into the woods to survive. Over time, without realizing it, Bambi replaces and becomes the Old Prince. Simply by living.
(Both of the Bambi books -- Bambi and Bambi's Children -- are not children's books. Man is referred to as HE and is given god qualities by the animals. Very Nietzche. In the second book we see event s/philosophy from the point of view of Bambi's daughter, who is a bit of a rebel. Now that's a book I'd like to see made into a movie.)
Nothing in animation can match the original. The lush colors, the layering they did. Did I mention the incredible colors?
Just a feast for the eye and a joy to the soul.
Bambi II is delightful and I am glad I bought it. But it can't begin to match the original in sheer visual tapastry.
This story follows a recently motherless Bambi. His father, the Great Prince of the Forest, tries to locate a foster doe to raise the young fawn. As a doe could not be found until next spring, the Great Prince is faced with the challenge of raising his young son who is almost a stranger. Bambi yearns to win affection and approval from his lofty father by "listening" to the woods, leaping great distances, and generally working to please. A budding father-son relationship begins, which is eventually shaken and must be rebuilt. I commend this part of the film, thanking the folks at Disney Studios for the absence of an instant happy ending.
Although connecting with his father is the central plot of Bambi II, Bambi predictably meets and has some rather forgettable adventures with his best friends Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk. I was surprised at the appearance of Ronno, (who goes nameless as the rival stag in Bambi) a young buck whose antlers had already come in and serves as the movie's main antagonist. Unfortunately, Ronno's personality never goes beyond that of a schoolyard bully; he tries to impress Faline or taunts Bambi. However, I do appreciate the fact that the filmmakers seems to have referenced Felix Salten's novel, Bambi, a Life in the Woods for the character of Ronno and the scene involving Man's deer call. One could also argue Salten's work inspired a certain scene involving grasshoppers.
If one were to stop Bambi after the death of the mother doe and begin Bambi II where it is meant to take place, the differences of the two would be alarmingly evident. There is very little dialogue in Bambi, emotion being expressed by Walt's sunning visuals. Bambi II, on the other hand, is full of chatter, probably to help it appeal to modern young audiences. Not to say Alexander Gould does poorly as the voice of the title character. He gives Bambi nice emotion and life. Brendon Baerg's Thumper, however, doesn't sit well with me. The scenes involving Thumper and his sisters seem to try to be cute to the verge of them being annoying. Patrick Stewart's performance wavers between being pompous and noble as the Great Prince, while Andrea Bowne makes a very sweet Faline. Faline no longer giggles hysterically, yet quietly makes herself heard. There are points within the film where Bambi and Faline look at each other so lovingly it just about melts your heart. Facial expression was very well done.
There are a few other minor differences. Bambi II is certainly less lush looking, as most of the rich colors of Bambi have been reduced to mainly pastels. The music is also a bit of a problem. Bambi II features country/pop tunes that can indeed be cringe-worthy, drastically different than the haunting choruses of the 1940's. The only song revisited is "Let's Sing a Gay Little Spring Song." In contrast, instrumentals do a good job of setting the mood in Bambi II when they are used. The animation isn't too shabby, although computer rendering is usually noticeable when it is used.
In conclusion, Bambi II feels unnecessary. It doesn't add much to the original plotline, but it is certainly more of a story than many of the other direct-to-video fare that Disney Studios steadily churns out. I suggest renting it before buying it, and I do know of many small children enjoying it thoroughly. It bothers me, though, that a film Walt Disney personally supervised has been followed up with a piece that wasn't even worthy of opening in theaters.