Some years ago,
Disney decided it was going to raid its film vaults to
make sequels to some of its animated classics. There
wasn't a great need by the public for sequels to
"Cinderella," or "Lady and the Tramp." Disney "geeks"
weren't clamoring to find out what happened happily ever
after. Disney saw its own need to broaden its brand name
and characters. They produced a number of these sequels
since the debut of "The Return of Jafar" in 1994. As
much as many Disney "geeks" probably cried, Disney
laughed itself all the way to the vault...the bank
vault. Even direct-to-DVD movies like "Tarzan and Jane"
and "Atlantis II: Milo's Return" sold enough copies to
eager parents looking for something to keep little
Sierra and little Zack happy for an hour-and-a-half. It
proved that Disney could sell anything to the
Which brings us to "101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure," again available on DVD.
There's nothing wrong with making sequels, I suppose. Disney owns the "Dalmatians" property and has done quite well exploiting in live action films and a television series. Making a direct-to-DVD sequel to one of its most successful movies seems like a no-brainer. Yet, for the viewers and fans of the original "101 Dalmatians" feature film, wasn't making the film into a mediocre live-action movie enough? The original film told its story, we loved the characters, and that was it. No need for any follow ups.
Apparently, Disney didn't listen to those voices in the wind saying, "Enough sequels!" So here we have 2003's "101 Dalmatians: Patch's London Adventure." This sequel isn't as bad as some of the Disney sequels have been. The movie starts off with a delightful title sequence and a bouncy score that actually sticks with you after the movie's over. The animation repeats most of the same look as the original, though the animation is brighter and more clean. The character of Patch (voiced by Bobby Lockwood) is charming, while Susan Blakeslee does a credible job in recreating the voice of Cruella De Vil.
What is lacking in this sequel is a good story with humor and occasional slapstick conflict that was in the original. Instead of centering the story around all of the Dalmatians, Part II centers around Patch, an obscure puppy from the litter who like TV. During a move to the countryside, he gets lost in London and meets his TV hero, Thunderbolt. Meanwhile, Cruella is going through a crisis of her own and meets an artist who wants to use her as his muse. The actual action in the whole movie doesn't pick up until about 45-minutes into the running time, by which the audience (i.e. kids) has gone outside to play.
As in some of the other Disney sequels to their animated classics, the story trudges along with very little humor and action. Though the original film wasn't strong in the story department, it more than made it up in humorous episodes involving Cruella. This animated sequel has none of Cruella's mean spirit. Instead, the story has her moping around thinking of happier times in her life. This has been a trend in the Disney sequels, and it's not understood why. One of the evil stepsisters in "Cinderella II: Dreams Come True" is depressed because she can't find true love. Since when do we care about the evil stepsister? Baloo mopes around the jungle thinking of the happy times with Mogli in "The Jungle Book 2." Baloo's a hip, fun, free spirited bear! He's no supposed to be too sad. In the "Dalmatians" world, Cruella is supposed to be downright evil. Here in this animated sequel, she's a water downed kitten with no claws. No fun.
This is the second release of "101 Dalmatians II," and I'm sure it'll still sell a number of copies. It is one of the better direct-to-DVD releases from the Disney studio. Is it worth picking up for the first time? Depends on if your kids really want it.
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © WDHE. All rights reserved.
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