Happy Feet 2’s review was published in our film criticism column “Animadversion” (IMAGES on SUNDAY, The Dawn Group of Newspapers) on 18th December 2011. This post is the unedited copy. Link to the online copy and images of the newspaper version are at the end of this post.
Cute, Cuddly and Still Determined: Celebrating the Dance of the Penguins – Again
By Farheen Jawaid
Proving that white-gray world of Antarctica is no less breathtaking than the colorful palate of Rio, Happy Feet Two, goes an extra step away from the documentary-approach of the original Happy Feet without losing its original trademarks: the family drama, dazzling song and dance numbers, stunning acrobatics and cinematography (which go hand in hand) or the environmental commentary.
Elijah Wood returns as the Emperor Penguin Mumble, now with his roles reversed as the papa penguin, he is seen as an aggravator by his youngling Erik (Ava Acres). Erik is in the same predicament as his father Mumble was in the first Happy Feet, but with his role reversed – he can’t dance, as his father couldn’t sing. Erik runs off with his friends when he embarrasses himself in front of the emperor penguin population, and then as fate would have it, the penguin population gets trapped when an iceberg seals them with no food or exit.
And so, Mumble, Erik and his friends’ try to save them in the rest of the movie between musical numbers and sweeping camera work. In between the main arc, a hilarious side story of the tiny shrimp-like Krills voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon keeps popping up – and it really works, like the squirrel skits in Ice Age.
Besides Elijah Wood, Robin Williams returns in two roles (Ramon a smaller accented Adele penguin and the multi-coloured sweater wearing Lovelace). Hank Azaria voices the supposedly flying penguin The Mighty Sven while Sofia Vergara plays Carmen, the shining star to Ramon.
Replacing Brittany Murphy is Pink as the new timbre Gloria, while the exceptional dance numbers are performed by professional dancers captured by motion capture technology.
The cinematography by David Peers and David Dulac never sits still as it sweeps and anchors penguins and then orbits around them while they break in to songs or as they slide in snow or dodge perils in the water.
Director George Miller, who also wrote with Gary Eck, Warren Coleman, Paul Livingston, prevails in delivering an entertaining story with a social message. The film, like the original, celebrates being different while standing up for oneself; it however also introduces us to the notion to not fall in love with the idea of being different so that you can’t see what really is in front of you and in yourself. All of this done without hammering on one point, even the songs don’t outstay their welcome. In the end Happy Feet Two shows it is happiness to have two happy feet then one.
The published version online is:
The hardcopy print looks like this: