In “Happy Feet Two,” the sequel to the 2006 animated feature, there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a few tapping penguin flippers. Who cares if global warming is slowly chipping away at the only place the penguins can call home? As long as the director (George Miller, “Mad Max”) can squeeze in a few panoramic shots featuring hundreds of the flightless black-and-white birds shaking their tail feathers, everything will be OK.

Happy Feet Two

At Quality 16 and Rave
Warner Bros.


To a certain extent, there’s nothing wrong with that. Nowhere is it written in stone that every movie must have the perfect combination of story, acting and composition in order to be deemed entertaining. There are multiple instances in “Happy Feet Two” in which the silly, slightly unoriginal dialogue will have audiences chuckling. And there’s no denying the animation is as eye-popping as a $135 million budget can buy.

The place where this second installment lags is its ability to get a point across. Though the original and the sequel are tied together by their anti-pollution morality, the first movie did a much better job of conveying that ethos to its audience.

The plot developments in the first film were strongly rooted in the exploitation of the Antarctic region by human beings. One way the script chose to show this was by separating the main character, Mumble (Elijah Wood, “The Lord of the Rings”), from his loved ones and putting him in a zoo.

In the terror of human captivity, the lovable penguin eventually starts losing his mind until his incessant dancing makes him famous and convinces the captors to release him back into the wild. Small details like Robin Williams’s (“Night at the Museum”) character entangling himself in plastic six-pack rings showed the direct consequences of our pollution.

This time around, Miller throws two somehow-intertwined storylines about krill and penguins at his audience. Though the first half of the movie explores the uneasy relationship between Mumble and his son Erik (Ava Acres, “Weeds”), it all boils down to saving the entire penguin tribe from glaciers collapsing due to global warming.

In the meantime, the audience also watches a completely unrelated story about two krill, Will (Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”) and Bill (Matt Damon, “Contagion”), who set out to discover why they are “one in a krillion” and climb higher up the food chain.

The choice to link two entirely different stories that present morally isolated messages forces the audience to choose which one we care about more, ultimately detracting from the overall quality of this movie. It dilutes the film’s point about global warming.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to see that this franchise is a clear step up from the animated animals usually found preying on little kids’ developing imaginations. Despite this, the film never manages to pack the punch that would have made it a good movie. The message is clear — it’s just not presented in as hard-hitting a manner as in the first one.

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