Matching the Cars franchise, film for film, Warner Bros.’ Happy Feet returns too with another outing in the icy arctic as the dancing penguins regroup for a sequel no-one was particularly clamouring for.
Such a lack of anticipation was well placed by the general public, and right from the work go nothing really happens in the story. Picking up as Mumbles’ (Wood) penguin colony launch into an redundant dance routine, his son Erik (Acres) wanders off, his two left feet making him feel lost amongst the legions of superstar dancers. Alongside a couple of friends, Erik stumbles into another colony far across the ice, meaning a lengthy trek back when his father at last catches up with the three runaways. But they return to find their home in massive danger as with a glacier closing in, their fellow penguins lie trapped in a wide gorge; the only way out? Well, dancing of course.
If you hadn’t picked up by now, Happy Feet Two is massively uninspiring stuff. The villain of the movie is a glacier, and that says more about the capacity for excitement in the plot than this review ever could.
The glacier and Erik’s worrisome walk bring about a story arc very similar to the equally boring Alpha And Omega; in that, a pair of wolves find themselves separated from their pack, making the arduous journey back to save their friends and family from a live or death situation. It’s the same here too, but never are you on the edge of your seat, never thrown headfirst into the narrative or captivated by the plight of our little black and white friends.
Dancing is a bizarre and ineffectual quirk to the main plot but never is its importance to the colony explained nor taken advantage of to be entertaining. The choreography is boring, the songs clichéd and everything about it so utterly drab.
Instead you might hope the visuals bring flair, but while animation is generally nice, against the snowy white backdrop, any bright colours are dulled by the ineffectual 3D making the whole film feel even more dreary and unspectacular.
With little else to rouse your attention, it falls on the voice cast to save Happy Feet Two, but sadly they only contribute further to the film’s downfall. Elijah Wood’s performance is passive and wimpy though it would be unfair to signal him out for being particularly frail. Hank Azaria’s day-saving hero Sven is a laughable Swedish stereotype that stirs up everything but laughs and Brad Pitt and Matt Damon should have known better than to accept roles of Will and Bill the krills, whose side adventures are less than an obvious copy of nut-obsessed Scrat in the Ice Age movies.
In a year when a Cars movie is again Pixar’s disappointing output, the chance was there for Warner Bros. to again clean up as the best animated movie of the year. It’s fair to say they missed that chance. That the first film made a big profit was something of a miracle, that the sequel has already been a huge box office bomb should come as no surprise, especially given the lacklustre production it turned into.