Tuesday, 24 April 2012

HAPPY FEET TWO - a TOTS100 film blogger review

tots100 parent bloggers film club

I do remember watching Happy Feet (which my mum claims is one of her favourite films) but don't remember much about it other than it was something to do with dancing penguins. I had intended to re-watch the original before sitting down to the sequel but time simply did not allow.

Happy Feet Two very definitely had dancing penguins!

Like many people, I was spellbound by the wonderful David Attenborough series Frozen Planet. In many ways, Happy Feet Two had the same effect on me. The animation was utterly spectacular from the vast frozen landscapes to the intricately detailed animal characters.

I found it quite amazing that while the penguins performed beautifully choreographed dance routines (including some very cool street dance moves) they still retained their essential penguin qualities - completely believable. The one possible exception to this was the main character from the original, Mumble, voiced by Elijah Wood, who I felt moved more like a meerkat than a penguin (but my kids assured me that this was to do with being dropped when he was an egg or some such thing). Mumble still had his baby feathers rather than the distinctive emperor penguin plumage but he was in an adult relationship and was father to a chick. This puzzled me but again my children had an explanation that was rooted in the earlier dropping incident. (I really wish I had had time to re watch that movie!)

Mumbles' chick, Erik,  deserves a few words in this review. I think he was supposed to be adorably cute. I think he was supposed to be inspirational in that he had to struggle to find his way in the world and triumph. In fact, I found him extremely annoying and when he had his prolonged solo singing moment to try and convince the Elephant seal to help his 'hero' of a father (persistent and resourceful, yes,  but I never really felt the heroism) to save the Emperor penguin population from certain death, I wanted to rip my own ears off.

There were some moments of absolute brilliance in this film but I did find myself at times wanting to fast forward. Both my littles ones fell asleep!

The underlying theme of the film is the effect of global warming on the polar ice caps. The collapse of a huge iceberg results in the Emperor penguin colony becoming trapped in an ice valley with no access to the sea for food. It is left to Mumble, Erik and various friends to overcome the odds and save the colony.

The best part of the film, for me, was the sub plot of Bill and Will the Krill, voiced by Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, who break free from the krill swarm to discover what lies beyond. The animators did a breathtaking job of depicting life in the swarm and life beyond from a krill perspective. My favourite quote of the movie, shortly before the big climax was when Bill asks Will why he thinks the penguins dance. Bill the Krill unexpectedly replies that it might provide "momentary release from the existential terror of existence"

My favourite, laugh out loud, jump off the sofa cheering moment was when the Elephant seals, animated to enhance their extraordinary power and bulk, mobilise to the tune of Rawhide. Genius.

This is not a film that would make it into my top ten must watch children's movies, which is a shame because it has a lot to commend it. Somehow,  it just didn't hang together to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

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