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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Bambi II

August 21st, 2011

Bambi II - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack

I recently reviewed Fox and the Hound 2, the midquel to The Fox and the Hound. I found that film to be equal parts bad and unnecessary; however, The Fox and the Hound wasn't exactly a classic to begin with. On the other hand, Bambi is a classic, so Bambi II can fall well short of the original and still be a good movie. Is that the case? Can it beat expectations? Or is it just another unnecessary direct-to-DVD money grab?

The Movie

The film begins almost immediately after the traumatic scene from the first film, Bambi's mom getting killed, with the Great Prince of the Forest, Bambi's father, explaining that his mother can't be with him anymore. Normally does are expected to raise the young, but in this circumstance, The Great Prince has no choice but to take on this task. He's not really suited to raise a small deer and instead tries to teach him how to be a prince, ignoring the usual things young deers would do (like playing with their friends). Likewise, Bambi is not suited to be a majestic prince, being so young and all. He can barely get around the forest, while standing up to hunting dogs is out of the question.

The second main thread in the plot revolves around Bambi and Faline a female deer Bambi has previously met. Bambi gets into a competition with Ronno over Faline's attention. Ronno's a bit older (he has already started growing antlers) and a bit of a bully and a braggart. Bambi does have friends in Thumper and Flower, but they're not a huge help when it comes to fighting an angry porcupine, much less an older deer.

So that's basically the story. It's a coming of age story with Bambi learning how to stand up for himself while trying to win the respect of his father. That's not a lot of plot, but there wasn't a lot of plot in the first film either. Also, not counting the opening and closing credits, the film is just over an hour long, so the film feels even less like a feature-length movie.

It's not a bad movie, especially compared to most direct-to-DVD sequels Disney was pumping out at the time. In fact, it is arguably better than a couple of the original animated films that they made around the same time (Chicken Little and Home on the Range spring to mind). Patrick Stewart is very good as the voice of the Great Prince, while the story of father and son bonding is quite good. Ronno doesn't quite work as a character, meaning that part of the story suffers. There are a few good jokes in the film, most notably the running gag with Thumper hiding from his sisters. Overall I think it will work for younger kids, but most adults will just want to stick with the original Bambi.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD start with "Sing the Day", a deleted song, shown mostly in animatic form. Next up is an 8-minute making of featurette called The Legacy Continues. Bambi's Trivia Track is rather self-explanatory; it's a trivia track that runs during the movie. Disney's Sketch Pad is a four-minute featurette on how to draw Thumper, with a couple of general tips to start. In Thumper's Hurry and Scurry Game, you search for Thumper, who is hiding from his sisters. There are quite a lot of places to search, although by some fluke he was in the first place I checked the first time I played the game.

The only exclusive extra on the Blu-ray is a an interactive game called Friend Owl's Fun Forest Games that teaches simple math. (The Blu-ray also comes with the DVD.) The Blu-ray does look amazing with great colors, deep blacks, strong contrast and solid details. The film mimics the look of the original with water-colored backgrounds and the level of detail in the character design is not as fine as it would be for a full theatrical release, but the transfer here is as good as you could expect. The audio is likewise solid, but not exactly showy. The dialogue is clear while the surround sound speakers are used well, especially with the score. That said, don't expect a lot of directional or dynamic effects.

The Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack does cost $7 more, which is acceptable, but not a substantially better deal.

The Verdict

While a lot of direct-to-DVD Disney sequels were pure cash grabs, Bambi II rises above the pack and if you kids liked the original Bambi, they will likely like this one as well. However, adult fans of the original cartoon should just stick with that one. The DVD and the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack are worth picking up, but neither is really a major bargain over the other.

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