Friday, July 12, 2013

Movie Review: Pocahontas II - Journey to a New World


Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: The animals are amusing; one of the songs
Cons: Story butchers history and isn't that entertaining
The Bottom Line
No improvement on
Original which was bad
What I expected



Butchering History Again in this Direct to Video Sequel

Since I’ve never been a fan of Disney’s Pocahontas, I never made watching the sequel a priority.  But since Disney combined the two for the recent Blu-Ray release, I decided it was time to give Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World a try.  Yep, it was pretty much what I expected, and that’s not a good thing.

Pocahontas (voiced by Irene Bedard) is trying to figure out her next step in life now that John Smith (Donal Gibson) has returned to England.  As she is contemplating this, she meets the new leader of the Jamestown settlement, John Rolfe (Billy Zane).  He is looking to bring the leader of the Native Americans to England as an emissary to King James (Jim Cummings).  When her father is reluctant to go, Pocahontas volunteers.

What no one knows is that Ratcliffe (David Ogden Stiers) has spread lies about what happened in the first film.  He thinks he’s killed John Smith and convinced King James to take an army to attack Pocahontas’ tribe.  Her presence in London upsets him greatly, and he begins to scheme about how to get her discredited.  Will it work, or will Pocahontas be able to save her people?

Once again, there are issues with the historical accuracy of the piece.  For starters, Pocahontas was married to John Rolfe before she went to England.  And nothing I can find shows a plan to attack her tribe that she thwarted. However, I’m willing to let some of this go as historical fiction and leave it at that.  After all, the plot is interesting enough that I was concerned with how they would resolve things in the last quarter after spending the first three quarters watching the predictable plot complications arise.  On the other hand, the plot does make King James out to be a laughable idiot.  He might have been, but this was something that didn’t sit well with me.

The political correctness of the first movie rears its head again, mainly when Pocahontas goes off about “respecting my culture” at one point.  Hello 90’s buzz phrases.  While there is an uncomfortable scene where Ratcliffe is attempting to provoke her, but since he is using it as pure evil, I’m okay with it.

The problems with the film run much deeper than that, however.  It’s just not that well written.  The dialogue is adequate at best and painful much of the time.  They always go for the obvious line instead of trying to come up with something new.

The songs are bland and forgettable.  Nothing will stay in your head after you’ve finished watching the film.  In fact, you’ll probably want to fast forward most of them.  The one exception is “Where do I Go from here?”  Pocahontas sings this ballad early in the film, and it’s beautiful.  The words aren’t that original, but the music is grand.

This was done by the TV animation department, and it doesn’t show the depth or artistry that the first film had.

And our three animal friends also make the trip with Pocahontas.  They’re still amusing but distract for the overall story.

I will give the voice talent credit.  They do their best to make this movie watchable.  They are always believable.  While Mel Gibson didn’t return to voice John Smith, I liked the fact that they gave that job to his brother Donal.  He does a great job here.

Overall, this movie is typical direct to home video quality all the way around.  If you like the first movie, you might find yourself enjoying Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.  Otherwise, feel free to skip this one.

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