Bambi II (2006) FILM REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
Posted 6th November, 2018
In this midquel to “Bambi”, we begin right after Bambi’s mother was shot, as his father, the great prince (wonderfully voiced by a nuanced Patrick Stewart), takes him in, and we focus on the relationship between the fawn & stag. At first, the great prince is reluctant to bond with his son, because he’s so stubborn and serious, but Bambi’s adorable youthful energy charms the stag out of his stuffiness.
I thought that the first “Bambi” movie was okay at best (click here to read my review of it), most of it’s appeal comes from the amazing animal animation and seasonal atmospheres, while it’s story & characters lack anything special. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it didn’t connect with me personally on any emotional level, giving me a very hollow feeling of dissatisfaction, and I’d even call it one of the more overrated Disney films. All power to anyone who resonates with it’s simplicity, that’s totally cool for you, I just found it to be too bland to share most people’s sentiments.
Like the first film, “Bambi II” is clogged up with lots of sickly sweet scenes of animals being cute, which may entertain very small children, but everyone else might be bored to tears by them. A lot of the film has the same storytelling weight as a Saturday morning cartoon too, with Bambi trying to woo a token female love interest, while also dealing with a generic bully who picks on him.
It’s this low stakes padding that stops the film from being a bigger improvement on the original, because while I love cute baby animals, there’s only so much saccharine coated nothingness I can sit through, especially when these scenes are no more creative than a formulaic average cartoon on TV. If you love tiny critters with children’s voices acting all innocent, then maybe you’ll really enjoy these scenes, but they dragged the film down for me.
However, unlike most Disney sequels, “Bambi II” exists for a reason, it has the necessary purposes of exploring Bambi’s grief over his mother, and showing Bambi bonding with his royal father. It always bothered me that the first film brushed off Bambi’s mother’s death so easily, which is why I enjoyed watching Bambi finally getting to address her passing, because it’s all brilliantly handled. Not only do we see Bambi realistically struggling to accept her death (not to mention, his father’s grief is amazingly subtle), but there’s also a beautiful dream sequence that teaches death to kids in very good taste, by telling the important truths of saying goodbye to a loved one, and I commend DisneyToon for their efforts here.
Bambi’s relationship with his father is where the movie shines the most, as there’s a fascinating mystery to the great prince’s subdued nobility, making his interactions with his energetic curious son very charming. I wouldn’t say that the great prince is a bad father, you can tell that he cares about Bambi, he’s just having to keep up his public persona, not out of arrogance, but because he has to show the herd that he’s a strong level headed leader. It’s quite adorable seeing the great prince shake off his sternness when playing with Bambi, it’s a funny change in character that warms my heart, and I loved seeing his softer playful side come out.
The animation never reaches the same artistic level as the original, which I will admit is a very high bar to reach, considering that the first film was animated by Disney animation gods, but that’s not to say that this new generation of animators don’t try, because I have to admit that this is the most beautiful looking Disney sequel (remember, I’ve seen them all), it’s so damn pretty compared to all those television budget quickies.
The filmmakers clearly studied the lighting, colours, and aesthetics of the original, because they do a great job recapturing the essence of what made Bambi visually captivating. The character animation can also be downright stunning too, I was really impressed by the little touches, especially from the enigmatic great prince, who actually shows more facial emotion than he thinks.
“Bambi II” might not be a wildly huge improvement on it’s predecessor, but it at least gives me more to get invested in emotionally, and I’d even say that it’s one of the better straight to video Disney sequels out there. I do wish that the relationship between Bambi and his dad was a bigger focus, with the boring cutesy baby animal scenes maybe being replaced with more father-son development, yet what we got, was still more substantial than most straight to video sequels pumped out by Disney.
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