"Sequel" isn't exactly the right word for it. Bambi II is actually set in the middle of the original movie, shortly after the death of you-know-who. (Do I need spoiler warnings about what happens in a nearly seventy-year-old classic?) At first, Bambi's father -- The Great Prince -- is certain having to look after the entire forest will make it awfully tough to give his son the attention he needs, and he tries to have a doe found who'll raise Bambi as her own. It's turning out to be kind of a grueling winter, and with food so scarce, there isn't a family of deer with enough extra to take Bambi in. Grudgingly, The Great Prince agrees for at least the rest of the winter to take Bambi under his wing...or hoof, I guess. You know what I mean. At first, the two really can't relate. The Great Prince is regal, aloof, and has to shoulder the burden of looking out for every critter for miles and miles; he's kind of forgotten what it's like to be a kid, and he alternates between sternly spelling out the rules of princehood and trying to keep his son out of the way as he carries out his duties. The Great Prince is trying his best to set a good example but isn't exactly the most affectionate father in the forest. Bambi just wants to impress his pop, but
I know what you're thinking. Is this a story that desperately needed to be told? No. Is it as good as the original Bambi? Of course not. After all, it's not tough to argue that Bambi stands strong as the greatest of all the classic Disney animated films. That said, even with as leery as I was when I first popped the disc out of the case, I wound up really, really, really liking Bambi II. This is clearly the work of an immensely talented group of artists with a deep, abiding love for Bambi who set out to honor it as best they could. For one, it's a very, very character-focused movie, and it doesn't get distracted by any sort of overbearing plot. Bambi II feels like such a natural extension of the original film, building off what made the first one so great. Because I already know and love these characters -- and because Bambi II has clearly taken great pains to reproduce them as perfectly as possible -- it's so easy for me to lose myself in the movie, and I mean that as the highest compliment possible. The craftsmanship is also wonderful straight across the board. The backgrounds have the same breathtakingly gorgeous handpainted look to them as the original Bambi. The animation is fluid, expressive, and terrifically polished...nothing about the look of Bambi II would lead you to think that it went straight to video on these shores. Bambi II wisely doesn't aim for a moment as devastating as the original movie, but it still stirs some pretty powerful emotions at times, particularly when it comes to the father/son relationship between The Great Prince and Bambi. Geez, and it sure doesn't hurt to have a colossal talent like Patrick Stewart fielding the voice of Bambi's father. I really can't say enough good things about Bambi II, and if you're like me and shrugged it off when the movie first came out on DVD a few years back, this new Blu-ray release gives you a chance to see what you've been missing. Highly Recommended.
Bambi II is kind of a knockout on Blu-ray. Culled directly from the original digital source files, the linework is consistently crisp and clean, and its palette is lush and vibrant. It really shouldn't come as any surprise that this Blu-ray disc easily outclasses the DVD release, but if you'd like a comparison just the same, click on any of the thumbnails below to get a better look:
The aliasing from the DVD is nowhere to be found in high-def, and this Blu-ray release doesn't suffer from any artificial sharpening, clunky noise reduction, or hiccups in the compression either. Bambi II is presented at its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and has been encoded with AVC. The movie and its extras arrive on Blu-ray on a dual-layer disc. This two-disc set also includes an anamorphic widescreen DVD.
I'll admit to being
Bambi II also features Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French and Spanish. Subtitles are offered in English (SDH), Spanish, and French.
If you missed it mentioned earlier, the second disc in Bambi II is a standard definition DVD. Bambi II comes packaged in a shiny, embossed slipcase.
The Final Word
I have to say that I was kind of uncomfortable with the idea of a sequel to Bambi, and I wasn't sure what to expect as I started tearing open the shrinkwrap. I'm thrilled to say that Bambi II is wonderful, though. Beautifully animated, stirringly emotional, and clearly trying to honor the memory of one of Disney's most enduring films, Bambi II is a very worthy followup to a classic we all know and love. Highly Recommended.