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George Miller
Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Sofía Vergara, Pink, Common, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Hugo Weaving, Lombardo Boyar, Johnny A. Sanchez
Writing Credits:
George Miller (and characters), Gary Eck, Warren Coleman (and characters), Paul Livingston, John Collee (characters), Judy Morris (characters)

Every step counts.

The sequel to Happy Feet, the Academy Award®-winning animated smash hit, Happy Feet Two returns audiences to the magnificent landscape of Antarctica. Mumble, The Master of Tap, has a problem because his tiny son, Erik, is choreo-phobic. Reluctant to dance, Erik runs away and encounters The Mighty Sven - a penguin who can fly! Mumble has no hope of competing with this charismatic new role model. But things get worse when the world is shaken by powerful forces. Erik learns of his father's "guts and grit" as Mumble brings together the penguin nations and all manner of fabulous creatures - from tiny Krill to giant Elephant Seals - to put things right.

Box Office:
$130 million.
Opening Weekend
$21.237 million on 3606 screens.
Domestic Gross
$63.859 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 3/13/2012

Happy Feet Two Movie App Second Screen
• “Helping Penguins and Pals” Featurette
• “How to Draw a Penguin” Featurette
&bull: “Running with Boadicea” Featurette
• “The Amazing Voices of Happy Feet Two” Featurette
• Looney Tunes Short
• “Pink’s New Song” Featurette
• Three Sing-Alongs
• DVD/Digital Copy
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Happy Feet Two [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 1, 2012)

A few years back, penguins were all the cinematic rage. 2005’s March of the Penguins became one of the most successful documentaries ever, and 2006’s Happy Feet made nearly $200 million in the US.

Recent efforts in the same vein haven’t seen such pleasant returns. Even with Jim Carrey in tow, summer 2011’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins only scared up a mediocre $68 million, and fall 2011’s Happy Feet Two clocked in with an even weaker $63 million – or less than one-third the original film’s earnings.

I found the first Feet to offer a wholly lackluster experience but still figured I’d give the sequel a look. Hey, I liked Home Alone 2 more than the original, so why not give Two a shot?

In the first flick, Mumble the penguin (voiced by Elijah Wood) showed his feathery friends that they could dance. As this one starts, we find that penguins are allowed – and indeed expected – to be dancing fools, but this hits a snag when Mumble’s son Erik (Ava Acres) lacks the talent and/or inclination to show his steps.

Though Mumble tries to teach Erik that it’s okay to be different, the youngster flees. Along with pals Atticus (Benjamin Flores, Jr.) and Boadicea (Meibh Campbell), they chase after Ramon (Robin Williams), an adult outcast. Along the way, they meet The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria), a penguin with the gift of flight, and Erik finds himself dazzled by this winged celebrity.

Mumble eventually catches up with Erik, but his youngster resists the orders to return home. He eventually agrees but Mumble and the kids find themselves confronted with a different environment, as seismic shifts literally alter the landscape. Mumble needs to traverse this whole new world to bring the kids back home.

After I watched Two, I looked back at my review for the original film – and became really tempted to simply cut and paste my comments about it. I didn’t do so because a) that’s too lazy even for me, and b) both films didn’t become truly identical. Some differences definitely popped up between the pair.

But they still have a lot in common and feel awfully similar. The main similarity – and problem – stems from the looseness of plot. The first flick lacked much of a narrative; instead, it came across as a random conglomeration of sequences that served a vague theme.

That continues with Two, and it often threatens to simply rehash the same concept from the first one. We get an awful lot of “it’s okay to be different” in both, though Two goes down more of a “coping with change” tone; that’s a minor difference, but it’s enough to make the sequel veer off in alternate directions.

But only mildly, as Two really does just want to give the same “follow your dream/do what you feel like/be yourself” attitude that we’ve seen in skatey-eight zillion other stories. And those messages are good ones, but they don’t allow the film to ever feel fresh – especially since they so clearly echo what we saw in the first film.

Two loses additional points due to its inherent lack of originality. While Feet came with a much-used theme, at least it provided potential fun/cleverness from the sight of the dancing penguins. The sequel can’t generate anything novel, however; it works in the same world and fails to do much to differentiate itself from its predecessor.

I guess it attempts a new thread via two krill named Will (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Matt Damon). I don’t know how the filmmakers attracted such talent to those fairly minor roles, but they’re wasted on the superfluous parts. Though they occasionally show up in penguin-oriented scenes, for the most part the krill exist on their own – and they feel separate from the rest of the film. In truth, they often come across like characters in their own little movie; they don’t blend with the rest of the flick in a smooth sense and usually lack much purpose beyond whatever fun comes from the presence of two “A”-level stars as their voices.

The film features a lot of other talent as well, though no one as currently big as Pitt and Damon. Williams revives his dual roles from the first movie, though we hear less of him in the sequel; he narrated Happy Feet and was omnipresent there, while he pops up less frequently here.

We also find “names” like Wood, Azaria, Alecia “Pink” Moore, Sofia Vergara, and Hugo Weaving, most of whom are fine. None of them do much to stand out from the crowd – indeed, Moore is dull as dishwater in the part she inherited from the late Brittany Murphy – but I can’t say any of them do anything to actively harm the movie.

Unfortunately, the flick shoots itself in the foot with its blandness and rehashed feel. Is Two a terrible movie? No, I’ve definitely seen less entertaining animated adventures – we find the occasional fun moment and/or laugh here – but it’s just as forgettable and lackluster as the original.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-

Happy Feet Two appears in an aspect ratio of approximately :1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Across the board, the flick looked excellent.

Sharpness remained terrific at all times. No issues with softness occurred, as the film was always tight and precise; even the widest shots showed great precision. Jagged edges failed to appear, and I noticed no edge haloes or artifacts of any sort; a little shimmering occurred when we saw a guitar amp, though. Of course, the presentation lacked print flaws; it was clean and fresh.

Colors appeared strong. With its Antarctic setting, cold blues tended to dominate, but other hues popped up as well, especially via the bold orange-reds of the krill scenes. All the tones worked wonderfully and delivered rich colors. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed clear and appropriately opaque. This was an impressive picture.

Note that the movie appeared in a 3D presentation on the big screen, and I thought it came out as surprisingly dimensional even in its 2D incarnation. This was especially true during the early krill scenes, as they almost looked 3D. I was quite surprised at the depth the photography boasted on my 2D screen.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it bolstered the material. With its mix of action sequences, the flick delivered a good sense of space and used the five channels well. This meant a lively soundfield much of the time, and quieter scenes demonstrated nice involvement as well. All the elements combined to create an engaging, believable setting.

Audio quality was always strong. Speech sounded warm and natural, while music was consistently dynamic and full. Effects showed good clarity and accuracy, with fine low-end response. Though not quite as strong as the picture, the audio worked well.

When we shift to the Blu-ray’s extras, we find a Happy Feet Two Movie App Second Screen. As described on the packaging, this lets you “sync your app to the Blu-ray for a truly interactive experience including sing-alongs, dancing penguins and more!”

I don’t review materials that don’t appear on the disc itself, so I skipped this. However, I’d hoped that the “Second Screen” would still offer some benefits; for instance, a similarly-titled feature on Real Steel provided a good picture-in-picture program even if you didn’t bother to sync it with anything. Alas, if you run this one on its own, you’ll just see 58 minutes of the movie; it comes with no bonus materials.

A few featurettes follow. Helping Penguins and Pals goes for 11 minutes, 52 seconds and provides a mix of actor Benjamin 'Lil P-Nut' Flores, Jr. and a narrator; it also tosses in some comments from Aquarium of the Pacific presentation manager Lori Perkins, Aquarium of the Pacific blue whale research coordinator Kera Mathes, Aquarium of the Pacific Jerry Schubel and marine mammal biologist Monica DeAngelis . They discuss the Antarctic, its indigenous life and related elements. Though aimed at kids, “Helping” provides a pretty good look at its subjects and will likely be informative for most adults, too. It can be preachy – and a little P-Nut goes a long way – but it’s still a decent to good show.

During the four-minute, 59-second How to Draw a Penguin, we get a lesson from storyboard and concept artist Tim McEwen. As implied by the title, we learn how to sketch Erik here. It’s a fun little instructional piece.

Running with Boadicea fills three minutes, 10 seconds with comments from McEwen, animation director Rob Coleman, and director George Miller. They tell us a little about the Bo character and we see an early piece of rough animation that shows her in action. Nothing much of interest appears in this forgettable clip.

We take a look at the cast via the four-minute, 51-second The Amazing Voices of Happy Feet Two. It contains notes from Miller, Flores and actors Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Alecia “Pink” Moore, Hank Azaria, Matt Damon, and Common. We hear a little about their performances and characters in this light and fluffy piece. While it never becomes especially informative, it’s fun to see the actors work in the studio.

Pink’s New Song runs one minute, 56 seconds and offers remarks from Moore. She discusses her role and the song she did for the movie. Nothing more than promotional blather shows up here.

Three Sing-Alongs pop up as well. We can croon along with “The Mighty Sven”, “Bridge of Light” and “Papa Oom Mow Mow”. I’ve never quite understood the appeal of DVD/BD sing-alongs since the discs come with subtitle options – why not just activate those if you choose to belt out the various tunes? Anyway, though these sing-alongs seem pointless to me, they’re harmless.

We wind up with a new Looney Tunes Short. I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Cat goes for three minutes, 49 seconds as it shows the standard Tweety Bird/Sylvester antics. Actually, it offers a short remake of an old cartoon; it melds new CG animation with decades-old vocals from Mel Blanc and June Foray. That’s an unusual choice and it adds some intrigue to this reasonably enjoyable short.

The disc opens with an ad for Happy Feet Two: The Video Game. No trailer for Two pops up here.

A second platter provides both a digital copy of Two for use on computers or digital portable gadgets as well as a DVD copy of the film. This lacks the Blu-ray’s extras.

I can’t say I cared much for the original Happy Feet, and nothing about Happy Feet Two improved on its model. While it contained an occasional moment of entertainment, much of the time it plodded along with a generally dull feel. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio but comes with mediocre supplements. Maybe Happy Feet fans will enjoy this aimless sequel, but it did little for me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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