Happy Feet Two (2011) – directed by George Miller
Seema and I took the kids to see Tintin today, but alas it was sold out. My son was a quite disappointed as he was really looking forward to it … and to be honest so was I. So we ended up seeing Happy Feet Two. Unfortunately the whole experience was a little unpleasant; a rushed lunch, the hustle and bustle of a rush hour multiplex, the stress of sitting in the wrong seat and having their rightful owners turn up (yes that was my fault), and finally paying for a movie I didn’t really want to see in the first place. Surely things could only go up from here I thought. They didn’t.
Following on from its predecessor, Happy Feet Two sees Mumbles (Elijah Wood), now grown up and with a son, struggle to save his fellow penguins who have become trapped in a large icy walled canyon due to global warming. Unrelated side action takes place via two krill characters (voiced by Matt Damon and Brad Pitt) who offer nothing in the way of progressing the plot. In fact, I was left wondering if somehow the producers snared last-minute contracts from the two stars and somehow had to write them in. It really felt like a weak attempt at comic relief, laced with existential semantics that lent a mild philosophical tone to the film, all of which would go way over most children’s heads. The comedic voice talents from Robin Williams and Hank Azaria supplied a bit more punch but were left to flounder in a sea of pointless minor characters that stifled the film’s endeavour for humour … or an interesting plot.
On a positive note, there were some impressive environments that captured the visual essence of snow and ice. This was surprising, more so because I’ve always found that the Happy Feet franchise (and the Ice Age franchise for that matter) lacked the visual variation that we’ve become accustomed to with other animated titles. I know, it’s a little difficult to get much environmental variation when your film is set in the bleakness of a snowscape such as Antarctica. But the flip side is that this should enhance the focus of its characters, not to mention the savings made on the CGI budget. In this instance, the cynic in me got the impression that the producers were more concerned with the latter.
On the whole, I found Happy Feet Two a boring film. I tried to see the film through my trusty child-like goggles that so successfully shrouded my adult cynicism with recent titles such as Up, Tangled, and Despicable Me. However, Happy Feet Two left my goggles all fogged up and disjointed. A few chuckles from my kids, but even they didn’t come out talking about the film, which is a sure sign their minds have moved on to more interesting topics. Currently, it seems that there are better options out there … I’m hoping Tintin will be one of them.