Disney continues its recent series of direct-to-video sequels to its big-screen animated hits with POCAHONTAS II: JOURNEY TO A NEW WORLD, which is fairly well made by the studio's Japanese and Canadian TV animation units, but suffers from the usual defects of an uncompelling plot and weak
songs that add nothing but extra length to the proceedings.
In colonial Jamestown, the villainous British official Ratcliffe (voice of David Ogden Stiers) tries to arrest Capt. John Smith (voice of Donal Gibson) for treason and Smith falls off a roof and is presumed dead. Later, Smith's lover, the Native American Princess Pocahontas (voice of Irene Bedard)
goes to England to dissuade the king from starting a war with her people. Accompanying Pocahontas is John Rolfe (voice of Billy Zane), a royal emissary who is sympathetic to Pocahontas's cause, and the two find themselves falling for each other.
In England, the king invites Pocahontas to a royal ball on the advice of the scheming Ratcliffe, who has convinced the king that all Indians are savages and plans to show him how uncivilized Pocahontas is. Rolfe teaches Pocahontas to act, dance, and dress like an English lady and she charms the
king at the ball, but Ratcliffe tricks her into attacking him by mistreating a bear in front of her. The king has her locked up, but she's freed by Rolfe and John Smith, who has recently resurfaced. Pocahontas and Rolfe convince the king that Ratcliffe has been lying to him about the Indians's
savagery. The king calls off the British armada and Ratcliffe is arrested. Realizing that she's now in love with Rolfe, Pocahontas bids adieu to Smith, and she returns to Jamestown with Rolfe.
Despite the customary limited motion and sparse backgrounds of the direct-to-video cartoon genre, the animation in POCAHONTAS II: JOURNEY TO A NEW WORLD is a cut above most of its ilk, featuring a nice blend of traditional draftsmanship with judicious use of computer imagery for the action scenes.
The film contains annoying fade-outs every 15 minutes or so (obviously intended for future TV showings), but all of the characters from the original and the depictions of Jamestown and London are well rendered. The story is completely formulaic and unmemorable, however, designed primarily to
appeal to preteen girls with its romantic triangle plot, while the lame songs sprinkled throughout, boasting generically mystical lyrics about the wind, nature, and spirits, only serve to irritate kids by interrupting the action. And though the film is as reverent as the original in its portrayal
of the nobility of Native Americans, it's not quite as stringently PC as its predecessor--using Pocahontas's Indian warrior bodyguard for some cheap comic relief as he clashes with British high society. Most of the original's voice cast members have returned, with the notable exception of Mel
Gibson, who's replaced here by his brother Donal (hey, you get what you pay for), but the new cast does include the ubiquitous Billy Zane, who not only does a creditable English accent, but also belts out some songs as if he were auditioning for the opera.
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: NR
- Review: Disney continues its recent series of direct-to-video sequels to its big-screen animated hits with POCAHONTAS II: JOURNEY TO A NEW WORLD, which is fairly well made by the studio's Japanese and Canadian TV animation units, but suffers from the usual defects… (more)