Dec 26, 2011

[Movies] Happy Feet Two (2011)

I have to admit that I'm the type of person who laughs at cat videos and other depictions of animal cuteness. And while I don't spend hours and hours searching the web for movies of that nature, I concede that I'm vulnerable to such hilarity. But more than cats, I seem to have quite a thing for penguins. Strange, yet true.

When the first Happy Feet movie came out, I was totally blown away. I mean come on, it was a beautifully animated movie that involved cute penguins singing and dancing. And I'm proud of the fact that I'm total musicals geek and stuff like this just really tickle me pink.

So I had somewhat high hopes for this sequel to the original movie. After all, they had already stumbled on a pretty good formula for success, a movie formula that I'm more than willing to put money into. But when we finally sat down for the movie, it was quickly apparent that this sequel wasn't going to recapture the beauty and brilliance of the first movie. Instead it opted to go down the sad road of Hollywood sequel syndrome.

I suppose it could have been much worse, but still it also could have been a lot better.

Happy Feet Two sit eh 2011 animated sequel to the original Happy Feet movie released in 2006. It was directed by George Miller with a screenplay / story by George Miller, Gary Eck, Warren Coleman and Paul Livingston.

Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Pink) now have a child of their own, Erik (Ava Acres), but he's reluctant to start dancing like his parents for fear of being embarrassed or being made fun of. And despite Mumble's efforts to encourage his son to take that risk and not to be afraid of the opinions of others, his first fumble breaks his spirit and totally demotivates him. At the same time, Ramon (Robin Williams) has grown tired of being among the emperor penguins and decides to return home. Without his knowing, Erik and his friends Boadicia (Meibh Campbell) and Atticus (Lil P-Nut) follow him to Adélie-Land.

Meanwhile, there are three other plot threads to consider. One is that a large iceberg has broken off another section of the pole and is heading towards the territory occupied by the emperor penguins. The other involves a pair of krill, Will (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Matt Damon), who decide to break off from their krill swarm to explore the world and find a new place for themselves in the food chain. And lastly back in Adélie-Land, the penguins there now idolize Sven (Hank Azaria), a strange new penguin who appears to have the ability to fly.

The first Happy Feet was best known for its music, whether in terms of its grand musical numbers or even just the use of memorable songs to mark certain moments and sequences in the movie. This time around it seemed they scaled back their efforts to license more music for the production and instead relied more on more generic scoring, While the music was still appropriate, it still didn't quite recapture the same brilliance of the first movie, at least for me. And that really took away from the whole experience given it was the bit that I was most looking forward to.

I totally didn't get the point of the whole krill story line other than to come up with new ways to make the most of the 3D format. And while I'm totally game for abusive use of 3D for more than just generating additional depth in movies, it should never come at the cost of the story. And this particular insert into the tale was definitely of little to now value to the overall plot, especially since the krill don't even really get to interact with the protagonist penguins due to their ridiculously small size.

The movie went through the classic sequel tropes of trying to revisit a lot of the original plot points of the first movie in a slightly different way. And the most basic way of revisiting all the different aspects of the original was by having Erik, Mumble's son, go through a lot of the misadventures that his father did. But of course they still tried to give things a different spin, but in the end it just felt wrong.

And I miss how a lot of the supporting cast were so much more vibrant and relevant to the story. Ramon and the amigos were some of the funniest bits in the first movie and this time around they were just meaningless characters in the background. They tried to give Ramon a new romantic angle with Carmen (Sofia Vergara), but that plot thread was just severely underdeveloped and not at all executed well despite the talent involved. And Pink as Gloria was just, well, Pink. And I know her to be a rather compelling musical artist but her full range of talent didn't come through in the movie either.

Happy Feet Two isn't a bad movie and for the most part it's a decent enough sequel. But given how great the first movie was, it seems like such a waste that they didn't maximize the potential of the franchise to really make a great second run. Thus the movie rates just enough to mark it as 2.5 beautifully animated moments, especially with the krill swarm out of a possible 5.

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  1. Dami ngang nagsabing pangit ang sequel. Too bad. Fave ko pa naman si Elijah Wood :)

  2. Well it's not like you actually get to see him in the movie. Watch the TV series Wilfred na lang I guess, hehe