Directed By Will Gluck
Starring – James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson
The Plot – The sequel to the 2018 film, “Peter Rabbit”. After the marriage of Bea (Byrne) and Thomas (Gleeson) along with the release of the acclaimed novel based on the adventures of Peter (Corden) and his friends, Peter is feeling like everyone only sees him as rebellious. So, when Bea and Thomas decide to go on a trip, Peter sees this as an opportunity to go on the run.
Rated PG for some rude humor and action
– Seamless animation. Even if a majority of the aspects from the previous film devolve within this soulless sequel, the benefit of computer generated special effects is something that is clearly evident throughout. Blessed with a natural lighting coloring to their character outlines, as well as a deeply emotive series of facial registries, these animals consistently breed believability in the context of each scene or sequence they accommodate, blurring the line between fantasy and reality in a way that maintains animated velocity in a live action setting. Likewise, the movements and weight deposits of the animals are greatly improved to enhance impact in the context of the properties they influence, which serves as a compliment to the direction from Gluck, who mentally outlines what he sees in frame long before we the audience do in execution. If nothing else, it vibrantly brings to life the legendary likenesses of these iconic storybook figures in a way that is every bit faithfully rendered as it is chaotically supercharged to maintain the consistency in energy of each scene.
– Talented ensemble. This is in the realm of both live action and voice deposits, which equally make the most of what little they’re given to shine throughout. Most notably, the addition of David Oyelowo as the film’s primary antagonist is most entertaining, even if the one-dimensional outline of his personality undercuts the originality of this distinctive role in his brief filmography. Clearly evident is David having the time of his life losing himself in the wind of a slapstick family film, allowing the actor the freedom to chew scenery in the context of the scene in ways he hasn’t attained previously elsewhere in keeping with a high brow consistency of films. Likewise, the voice work of Corden once again captivates the enthusiasm and adventurous spirit of the titular character, granting James a transformative quality in demeanor that elevates the character’s innocence ahead of his knack for carnage. Byrne and Gleeson are equally charming, but attentively limited throughout, outlining a yearning for humanity from the previous film that is most noticeably missing in the storytelling direction of this one.
– One sweet scene. Easily my favorite part of the film, and one that impressed me for the way Daisy Ridley was able to distort and enhance the tones of her familiar registry is a sugar rush sequence full of flare and frenzy that is most noticeably missing from the rest of the feature film. The scene is visually ambitious for the way it distorts its cinematography in the context of the character, but beyond that communicates a supercharged disposition within its clutches that would be compared to a chemically influenced hypnosis in an adult encompassing. It’s original in how nothing within these two films feel anything like it, but beyond that it’s satisfying in its exploration of supporting characters who typically play second fiddle to Peter mischievous ways, proving that they too have something equally compelling to indulge in that the audience should be given a chance to experience without force.
– Original essence. One quality that Gluck masters breathlessly in his passionate direction between both films is the transferring quality from page to screen that carries all of the color and clarity that was evident in Beatrix Potter’s collection of time honored novels. On the former, the vibrancy is persistent without feeling overtly flashy or stylistic, etching out a slice of life serenity that intentionally puts the audience at peace in the surrounding countryside. Likewise, the character designs and thematic threads that unravel themselves play handedly towards the lessons of importance that Potter weaved throughout a legacy as a coming of age author, proving a dependency in the audience taking these building blocks of life home with them to disperse on the surrounding world. Gluck is the perpetrator who keeps that legacy alive, proving that he too learned as much as the many legions of children-turned-adults who have clutched Potter’s novels along the way.
– Musical overkill. Similar to where the first movie meandered us with its themes and purposes in a way that mirrored the context of the scene they accompanied, so too does its heavy handed sequel, but in far greater numbers. There are four different storytelling-halting montages throughout this film that are accompanied with the most obvious of intentions. For example, when a character is down about future wishes not quite coming to fruition, they are accompanied overhead by Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. This would be annoying at best by its own, but made even more apparently nagging because, as I said, life halts from around these characters, and suddenly we become treated to a series of music videos whose only intentions feel primed to pad the movie’s run time and rushed sense of scatterbrained storytelling. The tracks themselves are outdated without any sense of cultural relevancy, and the sampled lyrics that are distributed overhead are every bit the on-the-nose variety that lack the quality of ingenuity.
– Uneven pacing. At 84 measly minutes, “Peter Rabbit 2” feels rushed, and nowhere near accommodating to the level of overstuffed material that is dispersed continuously throughout the film. Most of the problem stems in the aspect that none of these respective subplots have enough time to materialize naturally in the spontaneity of life, but more evidently than that it’s the way each of them undercuts the sentimentality enveloping them that is needed to effectively register with the audience, and bring to life the dramatic elements that magnetize the family elements of the plot. The film is so poorly meticulous on the way each subplot transitions from one to the other that I often had difficulty keeping tabs on what has transpired along the way, and where each line up with the general direction towards the film’s climax (Or lackthereof). It’s a film that could’ve easily used another twenty minutes of breath in between the abundance of ideas and exposition that it constantly hurls at the audience. It’s not a boring experience, but one with a deficit of attention towards enriching its own material.
– Scatterbrained. There are no fewer than four respective subplots persisting at any given time throughout this film. None of which work cohesively with the other in tying itself towards the other, and all of which elevate a convoluted circumstance to the experience too packed to feel like one beneficial installment in this franchise. It almost feels like as many as three different films that we will inevitably never see shuffling their way to the focus of this sequel, giving us a disjointed presentation that doesn’t balance the vantage points between human and animal characters in the same way the original did seamlessly. Most importantly, none of the arc’s enhance or mature characters in a way that is most reflective of the time and knowledge earned between films, proving so little of a growth that nearly makes this supporting chapter essentially pointless when you consider it adds nothing of merit to the far superior original movie. With minimal time and maximum story, it’s a recipe for disaster, and one that isn’t the smoothest delivery in terms of compelling storytelling.
– Elementary comedy. As to where the original “Peter Rabbit” offered plenty for adults and children simultaneously on its way to cementing a sweet and sentimental experience, this film feels heavily dedicated to the former of that particular equation. The slapstick in physicality is doubled, the appearance of low brow toilet humor feels unnecessary to this established environment, and the direction of this talented cast reaches for more for the energetically enhanced than required. For the majority, none of these aspects are things that adults compliment on their way to a satisfactory cinematic experience, and even though kids enjoy them, it doesn’t make for the most enjoyable of terms for the other half of the demographic who are forced to take said children. It’s a shame because the original sampled a slice of humanity that carefully toed the median between each dominant side, but here the laughs were minimal for my engagement, undercutting the charisma of these talented characters and ensemble that should be easy to orchestrate.
– Derivative. Adding to the uninspired sense of material stemming from a mostly predictably bland direction for these characters, the likeness of a few overly evidential occasions of other, better children’s movies was virtually inescapable. With spoiling as little as possible, I counted three different ones throughout the film, but the biggest perpetrator is that of a scene where Peter steps in wet concrete that dries a few seconds later, and results in him clanking down the street with concrete blocks attached to his feet. The same thing, beat for beat, happens in 2016’s “Zooptopia”, complete with identical character movements and identical emotions between characters that can only be fully realized in watching them side by side like I did. If the two films were owned by the same company, then I would file it under my ever-growing folder of rotoscoping, but since they’re not, I will just say that the similarities are more than a little alarming.
My Grade: 5/10 or D