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Movie Review: Happy Feet Two

November 18, 2011
Happy Feet Two – A Warner Bros. Pictures’ Release
http://happyfeettwo.warnerbros.com/index.html
Release Date: November 18th, 2011
Rated PG for mild rude humour and some scary scenes
Running time: 103 minutes

George Miller (dir.)

George Miller (writer)
Warren Coleman (writer)
Gary Eck (writer)
Paul Livingston (writer)

John Powell (music)

Elijah Wood as Mumble (voice)
Alecia “P!nk” Moore as Gloria (voice)
Ava Acres as Erik (voice)
Benjamin “Lil P-Nut” Flores Jr. as Atticus (voice)
Common as Seymour (voice)
Robin Williams as Ramon / Lovelace (voice)
Sofía Vergara as Carmen (voice)
Hank Azaria as The Mighty Sven (voice)
Brad Pitt as Will the Krill (voice)
Matt Damon as Bill the Krill (voice)
(L-r) Bo (voiced by Meibh Campbell), Erik (Ava Acres), Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Atticus (Benjamin “Lil P-Nut” Flores Jr.) in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ animated family comedy adventure Happy Feet Two.  Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Our reviews below:

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Happy Feet Two Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

A few excellent moments and several others that don’t really work make George Miller’s Happy Feet Two an easily entertaining but uneven sequel to the superior 2006 film that won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.  This is shaping up to be a big year for animation and sequels, and this film is a representation of the middle ground for both.

Dancing penguin Mumble (voice of Elijah Wood) now has a son of his own.  The only problem is that little Erik (Ava Acres) has trouble busting a move alongside everyone else across the vast nation of penguins.  Global warming is posing a threat to their land, making it hard for them to access food.  There is also a sub-plot with a puffin named Sven (Hank Azaria), who has been mistaken for a penguin who can fly.  We also follow two little krill named Will (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Matt Damon), who are struggling with their place on the food chain.  The krill actually get the best line in the movie when they describe dancing as “a momentary relief on the existential terror of existence.”

As I mentioned earlier, there are a few moments that really do work in Happy Feet Two.  The animation is excellent and the swooping camera work is often breathtaking.  The dance numbers are also expertly choreographed, making us want to move along in our seats to the infectious energy of the classic pop songs.  The final number is an excellent and high energy cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure,” with every animal adding their own unique beat.  The best sequence in the film is set against the beautiful backdrop of the aurora borealis, as Gloria (Alecia “P!nk” Moore) sings the moving original song “Bridge of Light.”

But the narrative lacks the focus of the original, delivering a story that is sometimes all over the place in terms of tone and character development.  I’m not entirely sold on the way that human characters are introduced into the story, as it seems to blur the line between anthropomorphism and believability.  But the weakest point in the film comes from a climactic moment between Mumble and little Erik.  I won’t spoil the circumstances, but this duet of sorts is uncomfortably out of place and just doesn’t work with the soundtrack of pop songs.  The film also feels a little too long at a surprising 103-minutes.

The original Happy Feet was an excellent animated film with breathtaking animation and a great soundtrack.  Although it admittedly wasn’t quite perfect, it was a unique and original film that deserved the critical acclaim it received.  Happy Feet Two is an easily enjoyable piece of entertainment, but it also feels like an uneven sequel.  It’s worth a look, but you can wait for the Blu-ray.

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Happy Feet Two Review by Erin V.  

*** (Out of 4)

Since it was released before the launch of this site, I’ll briefly let you know that I loved the original Happy Feet.  I liked the story, and thought the animation was groundbreaking, and the musical sequences done brilliantly.  S, when I heard there was a sequel coming out, my feelings were mixed, but this was definitely one that I wanted to check out for myself.

In Happy Feet Two, Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Alecia “P!nk” Moore) now have a chick of their own, Erik (Ava Acres).  At the beginning of the film, Erik is not sure who he is, and runs away after Ramon (Robin Williams) with two other chicks, Bo (Meibh Campbell) and Atticus (Benjamin “Lil’ P-Nut” Flores Jr.) to Adélieland.  Mumble follows them, but once in Adélieland Erik doesn’t want to listen to him, after becoming intrigued and in awe of Sven (Hank Azaria), the ‘penguin who can fly’ who seems much cooler than his own dad.  But when a natural disaster causes Emperorland to be cut off from the ocean (and thus the penguin’s food source), everyone has to come together to figure out a solution.  Along the way, they encounter other birds, krill, leopard and elephant seals, and even people, with each playing their own part.

There is actually a specific subplot throughout the whole film with the krill.  It consists of amusing little interludes with the musings of two krill named Will (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Matt Damon) and sort of plays parallel to the rest of the story.  While I didn’t mind it, it did make the film a bit longer.  Overall, the whole film didn’t quite flow as smoothly as it could have, almost feeling like maybe another pass or two at the script could have cleaned things up to be a little bit more streamlined.

On the other technicals, the voice cast all does well in their roles, the editing is fine and the digital cinematography closely matches that of the first.  Viewing the film from a purely technical standpoint, there is not much to complain about.  The bottom line is, Happy Feet Two is entertaining and the visuals and majority of the musical numbers are great to watch and hear in a theatre.  When compared to the first one though, it clearly doesn’t stand up on the same level.  One main complaint is the question of why Mumble not only still has his baby feathers, but why he has more than the end of the first film…

Fascinatingly, one storybook from the first film has Mumble with a full adult coat, the CD booklet has him with as many baby feathers as in this film, and then there’s the DVD version.  So, you can actually see the same image from the end of the first film with Mumble looking three different ways – it seems there was some indecision here and I don’t know whether to be annoyed or amused by it…

Back to Happy Feet Two though, there are several sequences here that reach close to brilliance, and these strong suits are often during musical numbers.  The scene with the song Bridge of Light sung by Gloria beneath the Aurora Australis is one of the most gorgeous to both see and hear in the film.  The climactic number is cool as well, with a chorus of both penguins and elephant seals.  There is no doubt that the Happy Feet films do group song and dance numbers extremely well.

This film will be enjoyed by audiences, mainly of families with kids a little older (maybe 7-8 and up, as younger seemed a bit bored at times in the theatre).  It is worth seeing for the visuals alone, and the story does entertain even if it is a bit uneven.  Although the film plays in 3D and IMAX as well, it is enjoyable in 2D so paying the surcharge is not completely necessary.

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Happy Feet Two Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Five years ago, Happy Feet blew people away with its photorealistic animation.  Now Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Alecia “P!nk” Moore) have a son named Erik, who can’t dance.  While you might think that this film is a copy of the original, it isn’t.  Climate change is causing the ice shelf to melt, making it harder and sometimes impossible for the penguins to get to the ocean in order to find fish.

Climate change has brought another strange visitor.  The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria) is a tufted puffin whom the penguins have mistaken for a flying penguin.  He is close friends with Lovelace (Robin Williams), the Rockhopper penguin who now wears a sweater after he and Sven were rescued by humans.  There are other new characters too, including an elephant seal named Bryan the Beachmaster (Richard Carter) and his two pups, and Will (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Matt Damon) the krill, who make an amusing comedy team.  I won’t say too much about the plot, but I will say that Happy Feet Two has beautiful animation, and great songs.  My two favourite musical sequences were P!nk’s Bridge of Light, and Queen’s Under Pressure.

The only thing that confused me about the film was that more juvenile feathers were added to Mumble since the last film.  If the filmmakers wanted to keep him an adolescent, they could have kept him the same as in the last scene of the previous film.  I also found that some of the plot seemed slightly convoluted.  However, I thought the climate change plot was handled brilliantly, being just subtle enough to really make viewers think.  Happy Feet Two is a decent movie that, while not quite as good as the original, is a visually stunning film that families will enjoy.

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Happy Feet Two Review by Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Just like in the original Happy Feet movie from 2006, Happy Feet Two delivers several beautifully animated and choreographed penguin song and dance numbers.  To make sure the cute factor is high the main focus has to be on a young penguin.  The original focused on Emperor penguin Mumble (Elijah Wood), who as a young one, couldn’t sing.  In Happy Feet Two, Mumble is all grown up and now has a little penguin named Erik (Ava Acres), who can’t dance.  Just as his dad did years earlier, little Erik leaves the flock when he feels he just doesn’t fit in.

His adventure takes him to a place where he meets up with a “flying penguin” (really a Puffin) named Sven (Hank Azaria) who helps him believe in himself.  Most of the characters from the original Happy Feet, Mumble, Gloria (Alecia “P!nk” Moore), Ramon (Robin Williams), Lovelace (also Williams), to name a few are back.  They’re all older now though somehow Mumble has his youth chest feathers again.  The new characters like Puffin Sven, the elephant seals and the oddly funny pair of krill, Bill (Matt Damon) and Will (Brad Pitt), don’t actually do much to enhance the storyline.  This time the main plot point is climate change which causes icebergs to break apart and leave the Emperor penguins isolated from their food supply.  Human (motion capture) sailors come to the rescue and all ends up rights in the penguin world.

The highlight of Happy Feet Two is without question the musical numbers, in particular P!nk’s “Bridge of Light,” and Queen’s “Under Pressure.”  Though not exactly an original film, Happy Feet Two is entertaining enough for families, especially those who can’t get enough singing and dancing penguins.

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Happy Feet Two Review by Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Happy Feet Two is the sequel to the best animated Oscar winner of 2006. Despite having inexplicably kept his chick face, the dancing emperor penguin Mumble (Elijah Wood) is all grown up with his own chick Erik (Ava Acres). When falling glaciers and predatory skua threaten the emperor colony, the Adélie colony including Ramon and rockhopper Lovelace (both Robin Williams) help them out, along with a wayward “flying penguin” (actually a puffin) with a vaguely Scandinavian accent called Sven (Hank Azaria), the elephant seals and a Russian ship crew. On a much smaller scale, a pair of existential krill (Brad Pitt and Matt Damon) wander in and out of the scene.

Though it is beautiful to watch with mostly good musical numbers, Happy Feet Two lacks the focus of the original. The krill were brilliantly rendered and had some witty dialogue, but I found them a distraction. A Tosca aria (with English lyrics) sung by Erik sounded like a tenor on helium. Moreover, at 99 minutes, it is too much for small children, many of them asleep or gone way before the end. In 3D it may be a bit nicer, but I decided to save money on the 2D version. If you liked Happy Feet, you will probably enjoy the sequel, but I would recommend waiting for the disk release.

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Consensus: Although Happy Feet Two is an enjoyable family film that boasts beautifully rendered animation and fun musical numbers with the dancing penguins, it lacks the narrative focus of the excellent 2006 Oscar-winner that it follows.  **3/4 (Out of 4)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Brittany davis permalink
    November 21, 2011 7:01 pm

    This movie doesn’t look nearly as good as the first one.

    Like

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