(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World)
Doug (vo): Yeah, because out of all the Disney properties that people seem to love the most, it was Pocahontas. Clearly we needed a sequel to that. Truth be told, I don't know what's more shocking. The fact that they actually made a sequel to this film that was so historically inaccurate and the majority of audiences didn't like, and even many said was the beginning of the downfall of hand-drawn Disney animation, or the fact that...I can't believe I'm saying this...I actually enjoy this one a little bit more than the original? But if you know what I think of the original, that's not saying much. It's still not good. In fact, there are scenes that are downright cringe-worthy to sit through. But again, as I'm finding out with some of these Disney sequels, there was a legitimate talent going in that I have to admire on some levels, sort of.
Doug (vo): The film opens up as stupid as you'd think a movie called Pocahontas II would open up. John Smith is apparently killed by the villain from the last film, Ratcliffe. Somehow, through some very confusing exposition, especially for a kids' film, this means that the white man can go and invade Pocahontas' tribe. But one man named John Rolfe, played by Billy Zane, believes this is unfair. So he pleads with the king to talk to the chief and see if they can work out something between the two. The chief is resistant, though, especially seeing how the settlers on their land are not always the best...ha-ha, just wait until what happens in the future...but Pocahontas, his daughter, offers to go in his place. Rolfe begrudgingly agrees, but thinks there's still some way to turn this into something positive, even if he's not getting the chief himself. Pocahontas is thus introduced to a New World and finds out that if she's gonna make any progress, she has to adapt. Thus, she learns their etiquette, their way of doing things, and, of course, puts on a pretty dress that they can market to all the Disney Princess lines. Let's see, where is it? (Several images of Pocahontas are briefly shown, before showing an image of her in her ball dress) There she is. It's borderline a My Fair Lady story, but keeps just interesting enough that it doesn't become too cliched. And she does a good job winning the people over, showing that they're not all just savages and that they can, in fact, be very intelligent and very peaceful. But when Ratcliffe brings in a bear to torture, as apparently, this was some sort of entertainment in the day...I'm not sure if that's true, but if we allowed bullfighting, I guess anything's possible...Pocahontas stands up for the poor creature, thus driving the king insane for some reason, orders her to be thrown in jail and the attack on her people to begin. And we go right back into stupid territory again, with swordfights, John Smith returning, a romance blooming, even though apparently, the person she fell in love with before doesn't count anymore, even though he was kind of still interested, but not. But it's okay, because her as the capable strong hero is suddenly seen doing very little in terms of saving the day all of a sudden. It gets so stupid.
Doug (vo): There's an immense tragedy with this film because, unlike the first one, I didn't always know where it was going, and the way it was written and the way it was animated and the way it was paced, it was surprisingly kind of engaging. With the first film, I knew every second, every line, every character, what was going to happen. It was so predictable. You knew the exact message, plot, when things were gonna happen. It was just ridiculous. The only thing it really had going for it was a good color scheme and some nice music. Here, the color scheme and music aren't quite as good, obviously with the budget cut, but there is still a lot of artistic merit. Not only is some of the scenery really nice and, by God, I forgot what a good singer the voice actress of Pocahontas (Judy Kuhn) is, but I felt the expressions in this were much stronger than the last one. In fact, a lot of scenes of pointless dialogue are taken out, just replaced by how they look.
(Two scenes about to be mentioned and described are shown)
Doug (vo): Look at this scene where Pocahontas is saying goodbye to her best friend. They barely say a thing, but look at that! Look at the emotion in their faces. It's remarkable. There's another great scene where she first sees the king, and she freezes. They never explain why, they never talk about it, but you just feel the moment. And it's a quiet scene, there's not a lot of in-your-face music, it can actually be very subtle. There's a real conflict between how much of Pocahontas' culture does she give up to adapt, and how much does she hold on to. What does she sacrifice for the greater good? That's 10 times more interesting than what we got in the last film, where you knew from begin to end what was gonna happen.
(Several scenes of Pocahontas exploring London are shown)
Doug (vo): I really hate it how at the end of the last film, she didn't go to the New World, she just stayed with her people, and I thought, "Why? Why are you closing those possibilities? Why are you just keeping things separate?" But in this one, you do see the lands explored. You see how she reacts to things, and it's interesting, and it's charming, and the romance is nice, and this whole side character that's following her around, trying to protect her, he's cool. I like how all the people don't know how to accept her, but they don't immediately shun her, they're just curious, they're unsure, and...I don't know. It just felt more relatable, it felt more interesting. Which is both surprising but also a shame that it started off so terrible and it ends so terrible. I've never seen a movie where the middle was the best part. Again, for what these people had to make and what could've so easily been a phoned-in project, I really felt they were trying. It just...didn't work, whether it be because of notes from Disney or they just made the wrong choices or they didn't think the thing all the way through, but, yeah. To its credit, there were much more moments where I was sucked in with Pocahontas II than I was with the first one.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): So, I guess if you're really interested in checking out, I would probably say just fast-forward to where she's going to the New World and then stop at where they're torturing the bear, because anything outside of that is garbage. But, for some strange reason, the middle part of this movie is actually pretty strong. Okay, it's not perfect, but it's Pocahontas II, I was thoroughly impressed I got anything interesting at all. So, I guess I'm glad some parts of it worked. Hell, actually, a good chunk of it worked. But it still doesn't work as a complete whole, and that does really damage it. The bad scenes aren't just bad, they're embarrassingly bad. If you're curious, it's not creatively bankrupt. Actually, I am glad I saw this movie, or at least the middle anyway, but the rest of the colors of the wind, sadly, aren't blowing me away.
(The final scene of the movie, showing Pocahontas and John Rolfe kissing as their boat sails off into the sunset, is shown)