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Bambi II Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 February 2006

Bambi II

Walt Disney Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: G
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Alexander Gould
DVD release year: 2006
film rating: Five Stars
sound/picture rating: Five Stars
reviewed by: Mel Odom

“Bambi” is quite possibly the greatest and most fondly remembered movie to ever spring from the fertile mind of Walt Disney. Based on the novel by Felix Salten, the original film told the story of Bambi, a young deer who was the son of the Prince of the Forest, who would one day take his place as the natural leader and protector of the forest creatures.

In the original movie, Bambi’s greatest tragedy was when he lost his mother to hunters. After her death, he was raised by his father, a point that was primarily glossed over quickly in the first movie to move Bambi into the spring when he grew his horns and met Faline, the young deer whom he fell in love with and fought for.

“Bambi II” deals with the aftermath of Bambi’s loss of his mother and his father’s decision to raise him. The story shoehorns nicely into the Bambi mythos, and spins a tale that captures the hearts of younger and older viewers as Bambi learns to stand on his own and teaches his father to laugh and play. Both father and son deal with their loss in their own ways, but it’s when they come together that the story ultimately fulfills expectations and rewards the viewer with simple but strong emotions.

Singing opens Chapter 1, mixed with the voice of Bambi (Alexander Gould) calling plaintively for his mother, who has just been shot by hunters, placing the timeframe of the movie for viewers in seconds and reminding them all of Bambi’s loss. The music streams through the surround sound system in true Disney fashion, powerful and moving as it fills the room. When Owl zips by, the sound of his great wings moves across the screen and is split off between the speakers, moving from left to right. Owl and the Great Prince (voiced by Patrick Stewart) discuss the need to find a new mother for Bambi, but for the moment the Prince agrees to raise the young Prince. Noises of the forest, like the wind blowing and the beaver swimming, surround us and make us feel as though we are in the middle of everything, surrounded by nature.

Chapter 2 opens with a drip that rings through the surround sound system, making the most of the sound, then moves into the young Prince awakening in the forest. At this point, there’s no happiness in Bambi. His father’s distant manner doesn’t help ease the young stag’s anxiety. When Bambi does get up the courage to enjoy the winter wonderland spread around them, the Great Prince sternly admonishes his son that princes don’t “woo-hoo.” As the Prince plows through the snow, he never looks back and never sees the struggles Bambi makes merely to keep up with him.

Thumper appears in Chapter 3 and brings familiar laughter and a lighter touch to the story as he renews his friendship with Bambi. Not wanting to play the responsible brother, Thumper is dodging his sisters and his mother. As always, Thumper’s character is that of a lovable rogue who’s not quite strong enough to escape his mother’s reach.

In Chapter 4, irritated at Bambi’s inability to keep up with him, the Great Prince sends Bambi off with his friends. They go watch the groundhog emerge from his den, and the music and sounds pour from the surround sound system again in a great audible display. Flower the skunk and Faline also rejoin the group here.

Ronno, another young buck, puts in an appearance in Chapter 5, fast becoming Bambi’s archenemy. Since Ronno has already started growing his antlers, he comes across as a teenager to Bambi’s pre-teen mindset, and is at once threatening and a bully. Of course, this sets the stage for one of the best fights in the original movie. Ronno terrorizes the rest of the forest creatures with his story of being chased by Man and the dogs.

In Chapter 6, Bambi dreams of his mother. The music is melancholy and carries the mood and dream sequence perfectly. This is another instance of pure Disney magic, those moments where everything comes together and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts: the storytelling, characters, animation, and music. Later in the chapter, when Bambi sees the dogs and has to run, the thunder and rain lash through surround sound system, incredibly threatening.

Bambi grows aware of his father’s disappointment in Chapter 7 when the Great Prince tells him to stay behind and guard the den. Bambi becomes more determined to earn his father’s love and respect, and feels that the only way to do that is to show the Great Prince how brave he is. Thumper tells Bambi that he has to learn to make a “brave” noise. Unfortunately, Bambi can only bleat like a goat, which the smaller viewers will love. One of the best parts of the movie, which is used over and over again, is when one of the tadpoles learns to growl and scares the other tadpole.

The extra features included on the DVD are a nice addition to the disc, but not outstanding. Older viewers will enjoy the “Making Of” segment and the Trivia Tracks, while younger viewers will have fun playing the game and possibly learning to draw Thumper.

A couple very attractive bonuses on this DVD are that Stewart (of “Star Trek Next Generation” and “X-Men” fame) stars as the voice of the Great Prince, and that the DVD comes equipped with Disney’s relatively new FastPlay programming, which allows viewers to skip right to the movie. When watching the DVD over and over again, which will happen with younger viewers, the trailers for other movies can be skipped with the press of a single button.

At 73 minutes, less than that if the credits aren’t watched through till the end, “Bambi II” is an immensely easy DVD for a family to watch over and over. Collectors will want to add this one to their Disney DVD sets before it goes into the vault for 10 years, and parents with small children will definitely want to pick this one up because it is so kid-friendly.

more details
sound format: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound; DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound; French Language Track
aspect ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen, Enhanced for 16x9 televisions
special features: Backstage Disney: The Legacy Continues – A “Making-Of” Featurette; Bambi’s Trivia Tracks – Fun Facts About “Bambi II”; Games & Activities: Thumper’s Hurry and Scurry Game; Disney Sketch Pad – Disney Animator Andreas Deja Teaches You How To Draw Thumper; English Closed-Captioning
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Pioneer DV-C302D
receiver: RCA RT2280
main speakers: RCA RT2280
center speaker: RCA RT2280
rear speakers: RCA RT2280
subwoofer: RCA RT2280
monitor: 42-inch Toshiba

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