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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure
Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure
Paramount // G // March 18, 2003
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Mike Long | posted March 12, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

From the world of sequels that we didn't need comes "Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure". It's been over a half-century since author E.B. White's classic novel "Charlotte's Web" hit shelves, and fascinated readers with its simple tale of a pig named Wilbur, whose life is saved by a spider named Charlotte. In 1973, an animated film (made by several Hanna-Barbera vets) of "Charlotte's Web" was released and did a good job of adapting the book. Since that time, the world has been doing just fine without any contiuation of the story. But, now, "Charlotte's Web 2: The Quickening" comes along to sully Wilbur's good name.

"Charlotte's Web 2: Dead by Dawn" opens a short time after the conclusion of the original story. Wilbur (voiced by David Beron) still lives on the Zuckerman farm, where he shares his pig-pen with three of Charlotte's daughters, Nellie (Amanda Bynes), Joy (Anndi McAfee), and Aranea (Maria Bamford). And, he shares his dinner with Templeton the rat (voiced by Charlie Adler). Wilbur finds a new friend when a little black lamb named Cardigan (voiced by Harrison Chad) is born. The pair become inseperable, to the extent that Cardigan begins to think that he's a pig. But, when Cardigan must leave the farm, Wilbur will stop at nothing to see his friend again.

The overriding theme of "Charlotte's Web" was friendship and loyalty, and these ideas are present in "Charlotte's Web 2: Island of Lost Dreams", but that's where the similarities end. While the story of "Charlotte's Web" is admittedly simple, it also contained a great deal of heart and well-drawn characters. The plot of the sequel is incredibly banal, and even the youngest children will be bored. (Trust me, I have empirical evidence on this.) As with many recent direct-to-video animated features, "Charlotte's Web 2: Judgment Day" tries to hard to be hip, while only coming off as derivative. The look and attitude of the three spider-girls is clearly a rip-off of "The Powerpuff Girls". The relationship between Wilbur and Cardigan could have come straight from "Babe".

The lame story isn't helped by the mediocre at best animation. The art has no real style and could have come from any Saturday morning cartoon. The colors are good, but they only draw attention to the overall lack of detail here. For some reason, Wilbur has been given a ring of fur around his neck that keeps him from looking like the pig from the original film. Also, the Fern here looks nothing like the original. Typically, if an animated film is dull, viewers can hope for good animation to keep them entertained, but that's not the case here.

Video

As "Charlotte's Web 2: The Nightmare Isn't Over" is a direct-to-video family release, it's not surprising that the DVD carries the film in a full-frame format. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors are very good, as the film features many nice green and red hues. The image has a true sense of depth and is well-balanced. It's too bad that the animation isn't better.

Audio

The "Charlotte's Web 2: When Nature Calls" DVD carries a Dolby 2-channel surround audio track. This track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects with no perceivable hissing or defects. The surround sound effects usually occur only during musical cues, but they do add much needed ambiance to the film.

Extras

There are only two extra features on the "Charlotte's Web 2: The Wrath of Khan" DVD, and both will be played only once...I guarantee. The first is the "Meet the Animals Game", which was also featured on the "Hey Arnold! The Movie" DVD. Here, players must match an anmial to its description. The other extra is a coloring game, where youngsters can color a picture using the DVD player remote. While it may not have been very interesting, a brief behind-the-scenes look at the film would have been nice.


As "Charlotte's Web" is one of my all-time favorite stories, I had a great interest in "Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure". However, what I found was a bargain-basement sequel that does nothing to advance the original stories or characters. The DVD offers a very nice transfer, but the extras are pointless. There will be no spiders claiming that this is "Some DVD".
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