by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
Patrick Stewart as THE GREAT PRINCE
Alexander Gould as BAMBI
Andrea Bowen as FALINE
Anthony Ghannam as RONNO
Directed by: Brian Pimental
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There is a bit of a controversy brewing among fans of the classic Disney animated films. It surrounds the question “To sequel or not to sequel.” Some believe that the classics are forever great and unable to be improved. Those on this side of the fence deplore the sequels to all kinds of Disney films.
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On the other side of the fence, people seem to just want more of the characters they have grown to love. They don’t think a sequel will impact the original – no matter how bad it is. Instead, they would rather have a fresh supply of DVD animation for their kids.
I used to fall on the side of “not to sequel.” Then I had kids. Like so many other aspects of your life, having kids changes everything.
However, I’m not a fan of just any animated sequel that comes down the pike. There have been some real stinkers out there, namely “The Little Mermaid II” and “Mulan II.” However, some of them have been rather sweet or funny (like the “Lion King” sequels) or even comparable to the original (like the “Lilo & Stitch” sequels”).
“Bambi II” doesn’t entirely live up to the original, but how could it? The original “Bambi” was a feat of animation back when it was released in the 1940s, and it holds up to many animated films of today – without the use of fancy CGI and modern photographic techniques.
What made the first “Bambi” so great wasn’t the story, or the characters, or even the animation. It was the heart behind the film. “Bambi” had such passion and love behind it that it is a wonderful film in spite of a meandering story and long musical numbers.
“Bambi II” is given at least some of that care from the Disney studios. I think the filmmakers were forced to use that care. After all, they were making a sequel to the original classic. They couldn’t take the job lightly.
The story follows young Bambi after his mother is shot and he must go into the forest to live with his father. It takes him through the long winter and into the spring, while he’s still a fawn. Like “The Lion King 1 1/2,” most of the film takes place in the interlude of the original, so clearly you know that nothing serious is going to happen to the characters. Otherwise, how would they return in the spring and get twitterpated?
The plot doesn’t have a very strong foundation, considering there isn’t much more to show in development of Bambi outside of the first film. He just saw his mother shot by hunters... how can you top the drama in that?
Instead, the plot takes a softer route, showing the Great Prince (voiced by Patrick Stewart) trying to adjust to raising a fawn. Along the way, Bambi’s friends come out of hibernation to play a little bit, and there’s a rival young buck named Ronno who is vying for Faline’s attention. I imagine that this is the same buck that Bambi fights in the original, but the issue is left for assumption.
I always felt the original “Bambi” was lean on plot and more of an animation calling card for the Disney studios. However, that doesn’t take away from its lovability. My kids love the original, and they are quite fond of the new chapter.
And isn’t that who this film was made for?
The DVD comes with only a few special features. There’s a trivia tack that you can watch with the film, as well as a making-of featurette. Two activities can be found in the special features – a set-top game and a tutorial on how to draw Thumper.
“Bambi II” won’t go down in history like it’s classic original, but it will be enjoyed by kids who are fans of the original. However, Disney has promised to close the vault door on it this spring, with only 70 days in its release, so buy now or forever hold your peace.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound. Family-friendly widescreen (1.78:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.