This week we watched the 2006 midquel, Bambi II. With the original Bambi releasing in 1942, this is the oldest property Disney ever used as a basis for a sequel. As far as sequels go, it seems like an odd choice. Though the original is considered a beloved film by many Disney fans, it is a quiet, reflective film that hardly seems like good sequel fodder. The simple fact that this received a sequel while such films as Snow White and Pinocchio didn’t only adds to the strangeness of it. Nevertheless, the film was released to home video in the US in early 2006, while releasing theatrically in some markets.
Following other DisneyToon sequels such as Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas and Tarzan II, Bambi II takes place within the original film. After the heartbreaking death of Bambi’s mother, Bambi is forced to adjust to his new life in the care of his father, The Great Prince of the Forest. Patrick Stewart voices him here and does an excellent job, bringing his usual dignified aura to the role. The rest of the voice cast measure up to his performance as well including Alexander Gould (Nemo), as the voice of Bambi and everyone sounds consistent with the actors of the original.
Because it had been years since I had seen Bambi II as a kid, there was little about it that I remembered. I couldn’t even remember whether or not I liked it. Having now seen it again, I am happy to say that this it is one of the best of the DisneyToon sequels. Throughout these many weeks, there have been many ups and downs in terms of quality (sadly, most downs). However, as we have come close to the end of this extravaganza, there have been a few highs such as Lilo & Stitch 2 and Kronk’s New Groove. Bambi II is is also on that list. Tonally, Bambi II feels consistent with the original. Yes, the original was a bit darker and this is a tad more lighthearted, but it still has weight. There is time here to process some of Bambi’s trauma, specifically the death of his mother. We get to explore the relationship between Bambi and his father, which is effective and, honestly, quite powerful. The film is also gorgeous and it is clear that great care was taken to try and match the beauty of the original.
The only thing that is somewhat inconsistent is the music. The main song “There is Life” is wonderful, and fits perfectly within a montage early in the film and again at the end. However, the other song, “First Sign of Spring”, doesn’t work for me. The song itself is fine but feels jarring within the context of the film. In addition to it taking me out of the story, it also dates the movie, which is a shame. Apart from that one minor detail, however, Bambi II manages to be deep, beautiful and somehow still fun, which is not an easy task. For those looking for something to watch, Bambi II is a great choice.
Next week, we will be watching Brother Bear 2. Happy watching!