(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Bambi II)
Doug (vo): So I'm not gonna lie. The idea of there being a Bambi II, I surprisingly found...interesting. The reason? I really liked the first one. I think it's a unique, important, even groundbreaking film. It's a movie that lets the art tell a lot of the story. It doesn't have to over-explain, it doesn't have to create a bad guy, it's just a little slice of life. The sequel had an interesting premise, at least from my point of view.
Doug (vo): It takes place literally after Bambi loses his mother. Yeah, spoiler alert. I think most of you know that, though. Bambi's father requests that somebody else looks after him because he's gonna be too busy, but the owl suggests that maybe he should raise him. Thus, the rest of the film is just watching Bambi grow up with his father, who has never been a parent before.
Doug (vo): Again, no complicated stories, no bad guys, just a little chunk of this one life. In some respects, it's exactly what I was looking for. It's kind of what I thought I would get, kind of what I was expecting, and it's well done. On the other hand, though, it is a sequel being made years later to something that was really unique and always just kind of did its own thing. So the idea of trying to recreate it years later does feel a little...off. It's not something you can necessarily blame the film for, it's just kind of what's inevitably gonna happen.
(Scenes focusing on the film's animation are shown)
Doug (vo): The artistry is really good. This movie does everything in its power to recreate the look of the original Bambi, and the feel, and the pacing. And for the most part, it does a really good job. When it has to look like calming winter, it looks like calming winters. When those extreme colors have to come in with the heavy shadows that are somehow red and blue and so forth, they bring that back, too, and it's really effective. The backgrounds are never too crisp either. They're just a little blurred, again, like the original film. But seeing how they're using artists and technology years later, you can tell it doesn't quite feel...I don't want to say authentic, but...a continuation necessarily. You're always aware they're trying to capture the magic and the originality of the first one, and that never, ever leaves.
(The poster for 2010: The Year We Make Contact is shown, as well as the opening image and title for 2001: A Space Odyssey)
Doug (vo): It's kind of like the sequel to 2001. It's not a terrible movie, but the first one was just so incredible and just so amazing that you kind of know you're never gonna recapture it, and that lingers over the entirety of the film. But on top of that, there are some other problems, too. One is there are songs of the time period thrown in, and they are kind of distracting, which...again, not to act like all the songs in the original Bambi were timeless, but these really do kind of take you out of the environment. Not Tarzan-bad or Return to Neverland-bad, but still noticeable.
(The Great Prince is shown in several clips)
Doug (vo): The biggest problem, or maybe I should say "pet peeve", is the father himself, played by Patrick Stewart. Now, Patrick Stewart is a perfect choice. He sounds just like the original actor (Fred Shields), he seems strong and firm, and, yeah. This is a really good actor. But I guess the way I always imagined the father was stern and strict and didn't really laugh that much and didn't really show much vulnerability. He was the leader of the forest, he couldn't show weakness, he had to be tough all the time. So I figured that would translate over into him being a parent. And while that's what they're clearly trying to do, he does show a little too much vulnerability. He plays it more like the confused parent, the fish-out-of-water, not yuck-yuck or anything like that, but clearly, he doesn't know what he's doing. And, of course, eventually, he lets his guard down and he goes play with Bambi and has fun, and then he realizes, "Oh, he was supposed to be stern and strict", and, yeah. It's just kind of that thing. It's not awful, it's just not how I imagined that character. There was so much more mystery and strength to him when he only said one or two things. (An image of the Great Prince in the first movie is briefly shown) When he first sees Bambi in the first one, he just stares down at him and doesn't say a thing. That is so intimidating. I thought that was the father I was going to get. But instead, we get lines like "A prince doesn't whoo-hoo".
Great Prince: Bambi, a prince does not "whoo-hoo".
Doug (vo): "A prince walks tall, a prince doesn't show weakness". It's stuff you imagine the mother from Brave saying. In my opinion, it would've worked a lot better if they show Bambi as a child with his father and the father is strict and stern and doesn't show much humanity, and then you cut to years later when he's older, then he confronts the father about why he was so stern and strict and the effect it had on him. That seems like a time that Bambi would talk about it, but when he cracks at his father because he thinks he's being too mean and he's trying so hard to be everything he wants, it just kind of feels formulaic. And, of course, the father feels hurt, but can't show the emotion, but then he has to see something that Bambi does that proves his worth, and you know it. But again, it's not done bad. It is still just sort of watching Bambi's life, and it's done very similar to how the first film is, a lot of playful moments, a lot of nice artistry, a lot of dark moments, but a lot of nice stuff, too.
(One of the supporting characters, Ronno the deer, is shown in several clips, briefly overlaid with a screenshot of the confrontation with his adult self in the first film)
Doug (vo): Any problems I have are kind of nitpicky. For example, there's this one deer that's kind of a bully, but he's not the villain or anything, he's just kind of a jerky, fragile kid, and I think they're building up that this is the bully that then confronts him years in the future. He even says at the end, "One day, we'll meet up again", and I'm thinking, "You didn't need to make that connection." I liked that this was just a jerky deer. It's the force, it's nature, predators, you just kind of get it.
(The scene about to be described is shown)
Doug (vo): There's also a particularly messed-up scene where one of the hunters in the distance uses a deer call, and it sounds like his mother.
Bambi's mother: Hello. (Echoes) I'm here.
Doug (vo): I didn't know whether I really liked this or found it really silly, but it is kind of disturbing and uncomfortable, but in a good way.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): So overall, it is good. It just can't be the first one like I feel it's trying to be. But I really give credit to the directors and artists and writers for trying to be the first one. They didn't have to. They could've just thrown some direct-to-DVD light animation, "Oh, Bambi and Thumper get in trouble", and just all sorts of bullcrap like that. But they do put in the good pacing, they do put in the character, they do put in the artistry, they do put in the suspenseful moments. In some respects, I didn't want to know what happened to Bambi in-between those years. It's kind of like finding out what happened to Batman after his parents died. You kind of like it being a mystery. But we got Batman Begins that showed everything that happened, and if it's done well, it's done well. This is kind of same thing. If they are gonna show what happens, this is not a bad version of it. I'd say if you like the first film and are a little curious to see if this is a good follow-up, you'll get an actually okay flick. You can tell a lot of effort went in to trying to capture the voice of the first one, and it doesn't go unappreciated. If you like the first movie and are even the littlest bit curious about how this one is, I think you might actually like it okay. Step out into the meadow and take a look.
(The final scene of the movie, showing Bambi and the Great Prince looking at the beauty of the forest, is shown)