Happy Feet Two

It's time to 'get our fluffy on'

News that this big-budget follow-up to 'Happy Feet' has failed to make a splash in the States might fill you with foreboding, but we think that this bold, bright and brilliantly original Antarctic adventure has plenty to offer all the family. And probably a few surprised intellectuals.

The hype…
It's been 5 years since 'Happy Feet' tap-danced its way into the hearts of audiences, and all the way to Oscar glory. Now the sequel is here, and, we're told, it's time to 'get our fluffy on'. We can't wait.

The story…
Down in the Antarctic, emperor penguins Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Pink) have overcome the adventures of their past and have been blessed with a son of their own - Erik (Ava Acres).

But like his father, Erik isn't in tune with all the other penguins. He's not a fan of the dance craze his father brought to Emperor Land, and isn't much of a talker either. Soon he decides to leave his homeland and join the Adele penguins.

While he's there, he encounters a charismatic 'penguin' named Sven (Hank Azaria). The wily chap has the penguins in his thrall, and promises to deliver them all from their problems. He might be held to that too, because a huge iceberg is making some unexpected change to the landscape.

Meanwhile a rogue krill (yes, seriously) named Will (Brad Pitt) and his friend Bill (Matt Damon) set out to prove that even the most tiny creature can adapt and reach the top of the food chain. But what difference can a tiny krill make?

The breakdown…
In order to fill the void left by Mumble's coming-of-age and the loss of his eponymous 'happy feet' from the narrative, we're treated to a whole host of character stories from across the natural world.

The impending peril provided by the killer iceberg drives the plot to a large extent, but it is a series of smaller dramas that capture the attention. Sven's lonely story of how he lost his colony and ended up in Adele Land is the source of much comedy and amusement for the kids as he wows with many a song and dance number, aided by the comedy talents of Lovelace (Robin Williams).

The journey of young Erik is the cutesy element, which prevents the necessary fluffiness and the 'awww' factor. But more than that, there are elements that pack an emotional punch, look out in particular for a powerfully-delivered musical number that stuns with its intensity.

Meanwhile the adults are treated to a delightfully intellectual journey of a pair of gay, existentialist krill. Bill and Will tie together the environmental elements of the plot, but also deliver a brilliant twist on the 'little man vs the world' storyline, packed with belly-laughs and eye-popping moments of stunning animation.

The whole lot is, predictably, underpinned by show-stopping musical numbers that span almost every genre imaginable and crescendo in intensity to the film's finale - which is a force of animation and emotion the likes of which is rarely seen.

When you look back on it, perhaps these disparate elements don't add up to the kind of wholly satisfying journey you'd expect from the follow-up to 'Happy Feet'; but while you watch it, this film is one heck of a ride.

The verdict…
It lacks the coherence of its predecessor, but 'Happy Feet Two' more than matches it on originality, stunning visuals and toe-tapping musical numbers.

Rating: 3.5/5

'Happy Feet Two' is due to be released in the UK on 2 December. Certificate: PG.