HAPPY FEET TWO 3D
Mumble's (Elijah Wood) son, Erik (Ava Acres), is struggling to realize his talents in the Emperor Penguin world. Meanwhile, Mumble and his family and friends discover a new threat to their home -- one that will take everyone working together to save them.
Review by Louise Keller:
While it is hard to repeat the phenomenal success of George Miller's 2006 Oscar-winning Happy Feet, that broke the ice technically and literally, this exuberant, brightly coloured, uplifting 3D sequel comes close. All the ingredients we expect have been crammed into a fast-paced spectacle of an animation with singing, dancing penguins, a big-scale adventure with an eco-friendly theme and a moral that reinforces self belief and that it's okay to be different. If there's a quibble, it's because the storyline tries to incorporate too much with too many new characters that distract from the main event. Once again, the occasional integration of humans destroys some of the cinematic magic of a creature-filled icy wonderland. Nonetheless, youngsters and their families will be captivated by the show and the superb techno-whizzery never ceases to amaze.
After a rousing song and rap-dance routine on the stunning backdrop of Antarctica, the cutest little penguin chick Erik (Ava Acres) makes a fool of himself trying to feel the beat and runs away, with his Emperor Penguin dad Mumbles (Elijah Wood) in pursuit. The tsunami and subsequent shift in the glacial landscape that makes prisoners of the thousands of penguins is the trigger for the narrative, requiring imagination and the recruitment of other species to help save them.
Robin Williams and Hank Azaria provide much of the humour with their funny voices and kooky characters, while Richard Carter, as the broad-Aussie accented elephant seal is a formidable addition. The mish-mash of accents is not necessarily successful and tends to detract from the reality rather than complement it. Considerable screen time is given to two tiny pink crustacean characters voiced by Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, whose Bill and Will Krill are caught on the wave of change in a bid to move up the food chain. Visually, the krills are exquisite, with delicately described glistening features, although some may find their shrill quibbling and repeated clichés a tad irritating. I must admit I laughed at lines like 'One small step for krill'; 'there are plenty more krill in the sea'; 'the carnivore is over'. Damon and Pitt are very good.
The use of music is mostly inspired, although the little chick belting out the aria from Tosca is a miscalculation. At times I felt the filmmakers were trying too hard and instead of allowing light and shade to colour our emotions, it's all a bit too frenetic with Mighty Sven (Azaria), the Swedish puffin in full hyperactive mode and non-stop action. Mumble's best friend Ramon (Williams in good form), always the ladies' man is a hoot.
Technically, the film is a happy treat and the 3D really enhances the experience. Miller has another hit on his feet ... er, hands. My feet were tapping throughout and while my heart didn't feel a glow, Happy Feet 2 is a happy experience and one that audiences will embrace.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
More feet, more songs, more music, more characters ... more everything really, but less of story than the original. The heart of the film is scattered about, but it fails to connect as satisfactorily as before. Not for lack of trying, mind you; the assembled team does a remarkable job of breathing life into the animated penguins, and showering us with cinematic magic - above and below the icy water.
We get whizzing, heart stopping chases and giant slides down the snow, The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria) a strange, flying penguin from Sweden, and the all-Australian Brian the Beachmaster (Richard Carter), a huge elephant seal who plays a major role in the rescue of thousands of penguins who had been cut off by a massive iceberg incident. The use of 3D is restrained and well chosen.
There is a subplot concerning two feisty krills (Brad Pitt, Matt Damon) and a playful romance (or wishful thinking) between Ramon (Robin Williams) and Carmen (Sofia Vergara), in this multicultural colony, where penguins from Latino and Black American cultures co-exist. And speaking of Robin Williams, he also voices the overweight, multi-coloured Lovelace, who has survived a nasty oil spill, among other human-induced degradations. But at least it was humans who saved him.
The cute factor rating remains high, with furry young penguin pups, a couple of bug eyed krills and saucer eyed seal pups joining the line-up. Comedy is scattered around, but so is drama, as the penguins cut off by a glacier face the threat of starvation. There is nothing too scary for youngsters, although some scenes might require consoling cuddles.
As for the music, it's almost non-stop. George Miller has filled the film with music to make our feet happy, mostly with uptempo-contempo material. But he's also borrowed from the classics and in one audacious juxtapose, we are tearjerked (not too successfully) by the tragic aria E Lucevan Le Stelle from Tosca (sung by little Erik no less, with more relevant lyrics), and slipped straight into the classic Rawhide theme.
Yet for all these laudable, clever and technically outstanding elements, the film leaves us feeling that more is less ...
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HAPPY FEET TWO 3D (G)
VOICES: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Pink, Ava Acres, Common, Sofia Vergara, Magda Szubanski, Hugo Weaving, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Hank Azaria, Anthony LaPaglia,
PRODUCER: George Miller
DIRECTOR: George Miller
SCRIPT: George Miller, Warren Coleman, Gary Eck, Paul Livingston
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Dulac, David Peers
MUSIC: John Powell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Nelson
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2011
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.