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Happy Feet Two (2011)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/13/2012

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/13/2012

Buy It 3/13/12 on Blu-ray Combo Pack with UltraViolot Digital Copy and Download to Own

When we talk about directors who have had diverse careers, we often talk about people live Steven Spielberg or Stanley Kubrick or Steven Soderbergh. But what about George Miller? This Australian doctor turned director first made an international splash in 1979 with Mad Max. The follow-up, The Road Warrior, was an even bigger hit in 1981. He then landed a coveted spot alongside other hot directors in Twilight Zone: The Movie. This was followed by Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He turned to black comedy and fantasy with 1987's The Witches of Eastwick. Then, Miller's output began to slow. He made Lorenzo's Oil in 1992 and Babe: Pig in the City in 1998. Eight years later, Miller returned with Happy Feet, an animated film which made nearly $400 million worldwide. Those tap-dancing and singing penguins were a long way from Mad Max. Now, Miller is back with another sequel, Happy Feet Two.

Happy Feet Two picks up some time after the conclusion of the first film. Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) and Gloria (voiced by Alicia Moore (P!nk) (That's how she's listed in the credits.) now have a son named Erik (voiced by Ava Acres). Erik and his friends Atticus (voiced by Benjamin 'Lil P-Nut' Flores, Jr.) and Bo (voiced by Meibh Campbell) wander off to visit another group of penguins and Mumble goes after them. While they are gone, a huge wave hits the area, causing earthquakes. When Mumble finally returns home with the boys, he finds that Emperor Land (where they live) has fallen into the ice and all of the other penguins are trapped. Mumble and the kids must find a way to get them out.

Let's not mince words here -- Happy Feet was a weird movie. We walked into this animated movie and found ourselves confronted by penguins who song contemporary songs and danced, while a not-to-subtle environmental message loomed in the background. Accompanying all of this was the story of Mumble, a penguin who didn't quite fit in and had to find his own voice...or feet. It was truly an odd mix, but you had to admit, you'd never seen anything like it.

Happy Feet Two continues the story of the Mumble and his friends, but this movie is quite different from the first one. If the above synopsis sounds quite thin, that's because it is. Mumble goes to rescue the kids and upon returning home finds his tribe in peril. This comes across as very lean when compared to how convoluted the first film got at times. However, this is only part of the movie -- there are at least three other stories going on. A flying penguin named Sven (voiced by Hank Azaria) has joined the other group of penguins, and they are in awe of his power, turning him into a spiritual guru of sorts. Ramon (voiced by Robin Williams), the sassy rock-hopper from the first movie, returns here, and he's depressed because he can't find love. He even tries to leave the ice at one point. Bill (voiced by Matt Damon) and Will (voiced by Brad Pitt) are two krill who decided to leave their swarm and see what the rest of the ocean is like.

If this makes Happy Feet Two sound likes it's all over the place, you're right. It feels as if Miller & Co. came up with the central idea of Mumble saving his friends, and then added more stories to it in order for the film to be feature length. The problem is that it never comes together. It's great to have Ramon back, as he was the best part of Happy Feet, but he's not in the movie much and he only has two good lines. The whole Sven subplot is very strange and it's vague and eerie as to why Erik becomes obsessed with him. But the weirdest part of Happy Feet Two are the scenes with Will and Bill. Yes, it's great to hear Damon and Pitt cutting loose, but these moments feel as if they came from a totally different movie. They eventually come into contact with the penguins, but it feels forced. In fact, there were times when I wished that the whole movie had been about the Krill.

Well, now that I think about it, the weirdest thing about Happy Feet Two is that it doesn't have as much music as the first film. Yes, there are songs here, and their rendition of "Under Pressure" is infectious, but the movie doesn't focus on music and dancing very much. In the original, the penguins seemed to live to sing, but we don't get that here.

Having seen a lot of low-budget horror movies, I've seen plenty of films where I got the feeling that those involved were simply shooting whatever was available or anything that caught their eye. This was the feeling I got while watching Happy Feet Two, but this is a CG animated movie which took years to make. None of this happened by accident. So why does it feel that way? The animation is excellent, but the story is both too simple and too complicated. It's time for this franchise to dance off-stage.

Happy Feet Two taught me that birds fight birds in Antarctica on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing on grain and no defects from the source material. This is presumably a digital-to-digital transfer, as it looks fantastic. The colors look great and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is nicely detailed and we can see the work which went into creating the feathers and the ice crystals. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.4 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done and show good detail. The surround sound effects come into play during the action-oriented scenes, most notably when Mumble is fleeing from the seal. The avalanche scenes offer nice subwoofer effects which aren't overpowering.

The Happy Feet Two Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Helping Penguins and Pals" (12 minutes) is a mini-documentary which tells us all about Antarctica. Lil' P-Nut helps us to learn about the habitat where penguins live, as well as many penguin facts. In "How to Draw a Penguin" (5 minutes), storyboard Artist Tim McEwen give instructions on how to draw Erik. "Running with Boadicea" (3 minutes) shows how Bo the penguin uses parkour to get across the ice. "The Amazing Voices of Happy Feet Two" (5 minutes) shows Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Hank Azaria, and others in the studio recording their dialogue. "P!nk's New Song" is a 2-minute interview with the singer who talks about the song she wrote for the film. There are also three sing-alongs, as well as a bonus Looney Tunes short.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long