wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?) - Those doubting the potential of 3-D could check out this film on the big screen
Happy Feet 2 is not nearly as charming as the original Happy Feet. In spite of some endearing characters, particularly Bill and Will the krill (voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon), and the superb 3-D experience, the film is a tad too preachy for its own good. With too much packed into it, the film fails to generate that same happy feeling that one got after watching the first film. The witty dialogue and enjoyable animation make sure that the audience is never really bored, but the film falls way short of being a first-rate children’s film because of its jumbled central story.Read more
Watching a tiny little girl reach out in glee at bubbles that are heading towards her is a joy that is special enough. But when this happens inside a darkened cinema hall and the tiny little girl is wearing 3-D glasses, the feeling is quite simply something else.
George Miller’s Happy Feet 2, the sequel to the Academy Award-winning Happy Feet (also directed by Miller) is a fun children’s film that is immensely helped by the 3-D. In fact, not since Avatar has 3-D contributed so much to a film. At last, someone seems to have realized that if you don’t get the feeling that the characters and the action are right in front of you, there really isn’t a point in releasing the film in 3-D.
Apart from the thoroughly enjoyable 3-D experience, the film is quite easily stolen by the Brad Pitt and Matt Damon-voiced characters Bill the Krill and Will the Krill. Though they aren’t the central characters in the film, the interwoven portions featuring these two Krill who ‘swim against the swarm’ are genuinely funny, with quirky and enjoyable animation. Their antics are often reminiscent of the legendary Scrat from the Ice Age series.
The dialogue of the film is goofy and witty, particularly the portions involving Bill and Will. You can’t help but smile when Will rattles on about dancing providing ‘momentary relief from the existential terrors of existence’.
However, the film is majorly let down by its central story about Mumble the Penguin (voiced by Elijah Wood) and his family. Not nearly as charming as the first film, Happy Feet 2 tries to pack in too much into too little time, ultimately making it seem like a mishmash of a number of animation films that have come out of Hollywood.
While there are a host of endearing characters including Ramon, voiced excellently by Robin Williams and Sven, voiced by Hank Azaria, the plot of the film just doesn’t engage you enough to root for the central characters. Like the first film, this too is a musical, and there are a couple of well-crafted musical set pieces that are fun while they last.
At the core of the film is a father-son story that feels quite unexplored. The film would have appealed far more if this core idea was used to anchor the film, instead of having a whole host of sub-plots that just deviate from what had the potential to be a heart-warming tale of a son who grows to respect his father for the man (or penguin) that he is.
What really works against the film is that it packs in too many messages and tries too hard to convey these messages. Thus, the audience is repeatedly subjected to characters coming to terms with and accepting themselves for what they are, to the importance of family, to environmental messages and so on. No surprise then that the film ends up becoming a tad too preachy for its own good.
Ultimately, while the film is a fun watch for children and the 3-D is genuinely thrilling, how one wishes that the makers of the film had chosen to narrate a simpler, cleaner tale that would have genuinely ‘brought out our happy’.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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