I’ve been watching a whole long list of animated movies, hoping to write two themed posts, so it’s been a while since I’ve been here. Things didn’t go as planned, but oh well!
Firstly, animated sequels to popular Disney films. Generally, they’re not nearly as good as the original. It’s like they passed the characters on to trainees to see what they would do.
I had bad timing when I got Aladdin 2, as Robin Williams had JUST passed away. I know he’s not in the second film, but the Genie is so distinctly his character that you could still feel his presence. Since said character is mostly comprised of imitating famous people, the voice actor (Dan Castellaneta, best known for voicing Homer Simpson) simply got to add Williams to his repertoire. He was adequate, but the plot was so dismal and simple, and the songs so unmemorable, that it really didn’t matter. What DID matter was that this movie finally explained to me how Iago ended up hanging out with Aladdin and company in the animated TV series. I guess it could be considered the pilot for that and be perfectly acceptable, but not as a movie sequel. Personally, I much preferred the third film, Aladdin and the Forty Thieves.
On the other hand, the spinoff sequel to The Emperor’s New Groove, Kronk’s New Groove, was fantastic. We get to follow kind hearted yet clueless former henchman Kronk after Yzma’s downfall. It’s a surprisingly complicated plot with four intertwined storylines – Kronk dealing with Yzma’s attempts at regaining power, his first love, his relationship with the children and elderly of the village, and his deep desire to earn a “thumbs-up” from his stern father. It’s definitely worth watching if you enjoyed the first movie.
Then I got into a few princess movies, specifically The Little Mermaid 2 and Mulan 2. Dismal, especially for the ‘princes,’ because they turn out to be so completely useless that they’re embarrassing.
The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, is the same story, but in reverse. Ariel and Eric’s daughter, Melody, must be kept away from the ocean due to threats made by Ursula’s slightly less threatening sister, Morgana. While King Triton is all too ready to hand over his trident (again!) and Prince Eric gazes stupidly in shock, it’s Ariel who saves her daughter’s life from the sea witch. Twice. And her husband. Probably her father, too, I got distracted. In any case, it can be pointed out that this is a rare Disney movie about the relationship between a mother and her daughter, which is mostly based on frustration and misunderstanding due to vital information being withheld. It’s one thing to decide your daughter should not visit your half of the family because of a death threat, but quite another to decide NOT TO TELL YOUR DAUGHTER THAT THEY EXIST AT ALL. Which must have been doubly confusing because Melody certainly knew about Sebastian.
Mulan 2 also raised my ire. Mulan and Li Shang are engaged after a scant three months of Shang knowing Mulan is actually female. Dragon guardian Mushu is upset about this due to losing his position as her guardian once she marries, and throughout the film is attempting to break them up. Shang stupidly keeps falling for his shenanigans. He was a great, strong male lead in the first movie, but here he’s just a dimwitted, jealous, suspicious, mediocre love interest. Very disappointing. Mulan also seems to have forgotten the first movie, and her heritage, entirely. The entire beginning of the first movie was about her going to a matchmaker, to be set up for an arranged marriage, which was, at that time period and in that country, perfectly normal. Yet, in the second film, she is appalled and shocked to hear about the arranged marriage of the Emperor’s daughters (princesses!) to form a political alliance.
I did enjoy a climatic battle scene towards the end of the film. It was well done, with even the Princesses joining in by throwing rocks, and a very moving conclusion to the fight. It felt like somebody else had written this scene, rather than the Disney interns.
Basically, watch sequels at your own risk. Cute and familiar characters, but the plot and music lacks. At the very least it gives parents an alternative when they’re sick of the same movie being watched over and over and over and over . . ..