Movie Review: Happy Feet Two
Rating: PG (for some rude humor and mild peril)
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: November 18, 2011
Directed by: George Miller, Gary Eck & David Peers (Co-Directors)
Genre: Animated, Musical/Performing Arts, Family, Sequel
Stars: 3 out of 5
It is ironic that a thoroughly enjoyable movie like "Happy Feet Two" will never get its due because of unnecessary but unavoidable comparisons with the 2006 movie "Happy Feet."
In the sequel, Mumbles (Elijah Wood) is now married to Gloria (Pink), and they have a son named Erik (Ava Acres). Mumbles struggles to be a good father to Erik, who, like all young sons, does not think much of his father and his words of wisdom. Erik cannot dance, and this, rather ironically, makes him a misfit just like his father once was. After a funny dancing mishap, Erik treks across to Adélie-Land in search of his destiny. Accompanying him are friends Bo, Atticus, and unlucky at love Ramon (Robin Williams).
Erik meets Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria gives a thoroughly enjoyable performance) who has his community under his spell with his witty motivational speeches and antics. After a few well-choreographed song and dance sequences, the focus shifts back to the father-son relationship. Mumbles tracks down Erik and the gang accompanies Mumbles back to Emperor Penguin land, where they find a huge iceberg threatening the existence of the community.
Mumbles tries to save the day by obtaining assistance of Adélie penguins and, unsurprisingly, getting all the penguins to keep on dancing. The initial attempts to break the iceberg backfire and the father-son duo travel to the elephant seal land to get all the help they can find.
Mumbles finally gains the respect of young Erik, who sings to convince an entire herd of elephant seals to throw in their lot with the penguins. Mighty Sven turns out to be something less ordinary than a rare penguin and suffers the ire of his community before redeeming himself at a crucial point.
Ramon finally woos his love by showing his willingness to sacrifice his life just to be with his ladylove. The Emperor penguins show courage in the face of an attack by flying predators with the help of wise advice provided by Noah, the Elder. Erik realizes his true potential and understands that Mumbles has been right all along.
The movie ends in a thrilling 3D climax, which is a fantastic visual treat for the audience. The climax highlights the importance of unity among all living beings. The movie indicates that no person is too small or too insignificant to make a difference. The climax ends on a happy note with lots of hidden messages for the young and impressionable among the audience. From the effects of global warming to the importance of unity, George Miller makes it a point to send out a large number of messages in this movie.
No "Happy Feet Two" review will be complete without a special mention of two microscopic krill named Will (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Matt Damon). Will believes that he is one in a krillion and wishes to move out of the swarm to find his true purpose in life. Bill tags along to make sure Will doesn't get into trouble. Will is horrified to discover his position at the bottom of the food chain and decides to eat a real creature to upgrade his position. Bill's saner voice prevails at the end and the krill join their swarm again to do their bit to save the penguin community.
The friendship and chemistry between Pitt and Damon works well. The dry and witty humor combined with the irreverence provides much-needed comic relief in the movie. These two krills quibble throughout the movie and do a good job of pumping up the humor-meter just as the film begins to drag a little.
Happily, the krill are not used for comic relief alone. Their size and Will's existential crisis are a metaphor for the ordinary and defenseless individual trying to change things for the better. The krill-swarm plays an important role in saving the penguins, and this forms one of the many clever metaphorical messages in the film.
The director avoids straying into the unknown. The movie can be described as predictable or boring depending on the expectations of the viewer. The cinematography is refreshing and Miller's reputation for being detail oriented is clearly visible on the screen. The animations look fresh, and the effects impress, although the movie could have offered more in terms of 3D imagery.
It is difficult to complain about the cast of actors offering their voices for the characters in the movie. The large number of subplots makes the screen play look chaotic. This is not a big deal as the movie offers enough in terms of fun and entertainment to keep viewers amused until the very end.