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Red (Hayden Panettiere), Wolf (Patrick Warburton) and Granny (Glenn Close) are back, and this time they’re on the trail of an evil witch named Verushka (Joan Cusack), who has kidnapped Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler) in order to…you know what? Nobody cares about this. I’m just going to move on with the review.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
I gave the first Hoodwinked! a pretty soft review all those many years ago. I watched the film with my friend’s kids, and they seemed to laugh enough at the jokes for me to assume it was working. I also found a few bits funny as a grown-up, specifically Japeth the mountain goat, who had been cursed to sing everything he wanted to speak (and who once again steals the show). But the animation was hideous, the jokes missed more than they hit, and the concept had been already driven into the ground by the increasingly terrible Shrek films. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is more of the same, and this time a couple of almost clever concepts (the value placed on food is still amusing) and dashes of banter just witty enough to not make me reach for the player’s off button (“chill a pill, and then take one”) aren’t enough for me to overlook the fact that it is just generally a bad, lazy pile of bad pop-culture references spoken by a surprisingly A-list level of voice talent.

I honestly ponder the possibility of the Weinstein Brothers holding incriminating pictures of this cast, because the only major cast members they lost between films were Anne Hathaway and Tom Arnold, who were replaced by two more actors above the film’s grade – Hayden Panettiere and Martin Short. Not to mention the inclusion of Joan Cusack, Amy Poehler and Bill Hader. The other, more likely possibility is that the Weinsteins just threw enough money at these actors to compel them to look the other way concerning the script (or lack thereof). The first film had a low enough budget to give it a bit of a pass, but I’ve seen enough homemade, self-financed CG animation productions to know that price doesn’t make as big of a difference anymore (you can’t get Pixar levels of detail, no, but you can achieve very much). To prove my point I’d like to note that Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and 9 both boast the same $30 million price tag, Igor cost $5 million less, Alpha and Omega cost $10 million less, Battle for Terra cost $26 million less. The average episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an often massively complex, and action heavy series, also costs less than a third of Hoodwinked Too’s unnecessary budget. Considering all these numbers (which I’m basing on wikipedia estimates), and the fact that these often mediocre, but unmistakably better looking features achieved so much, I can only assume that the cast had to have raked in about half the money, and that 99.9999% of what was left went into 3D conversion and bribing theater owners into showing the film.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
This is a clear-cut case of lazy filmmaking, ugly character design, and flat production design. If I didn’t know better I’d assume that this was the animators’ first run, and that rendering hasn’t completed yet. There are lighting effects and textures, but in the case of any other film we’d assume these were temporary. You know, so the investors will have an inkling of what the final product will look like. The character animation is hampered by bad lip-sync and lumpy character designs, but occasionally features enough expressive exaggeration to make me assume some of the animators are actually talented, specifically whoever is responsible for Verushka, the evil witch voiced by Joan Cusack. For some reason the filmmakers aren’t content to stick by the relative strength of their mile-a-minute dialogue, and try to make Hoodwinked Too into a 3D action spectacular. This means everything is framed too tightly, the already detail free backgrounds are blurred, and characters are continuously flying face-first at the audience. The lack of geographic sense, physical weight, or moving backgrounds doesn’t help the team’s aspiration. It’s hard to be excited by a character falling when there’s no real indication of the height they’re falling from.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

Video


Have I mentioned this is a cheap looking, generally ugly animated film? Because my god is this a cheap looking, generally ugly animated film. Hoodwinked Too is so poorly put together the 1080p bump just barely makes a difference over the included DVD copy. The background textures, as mentioned, look incomplete, and the details are blurred in close-up. These stick out against the characters and their costumes, which are almost acceptable in their textural qualities (specifically Wolf’s hair, and Hazel and Gretel’s little outfits), and create some minor edge haloes. The colours are brighter on the Blu-ray, especially the greens and reds, and more sharply set against each other than on the more compression bound DVD, but the use of harsh black as a shading agent (rather than the more common complimentary hue) creates a few messy blends. None of these complaints appear to be the fault of the disc’s compression, but the filmmakers’ shortcuts.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

Audio


Flat writing, flat visuals, might as well go for the hat trick. There’s very little in the way of impressive sound design here, even during the big 3D action sequences. There is one scene where our heroes slide down a metallic beanstalk, which features some effective directional momentum, and another where the three little pigs chase Wolf and shoot mushroom cloud inducing missiles at him, which features some heavy LFE punch, but overall there isn’t much outside the front three channels. The vocal performances are pretty consistent, with the exception of Joan Cusack, whose character occasionally wears a mask. The production accidentally uses the slightly muted ‘mask-on’ effect during her villainous diatribe, which she makes while not wearing the mask. The terrible pop songs that play as Red wanders the city, and while Kirk the Woodsman’s friends attack the pigs impresses with their rear channel back-up vocals, but otherwise Murray Gold’s score mostly only has a stereo presence.

Extras


Special features begin with a series of featurettes under the ‘Voices’ menu, (19:10, SD) which mix interview footage with brief behind the scenes bits. These include ‘Hayden Panettiere as Red’, ‘Patrick Warburton as Wolf’, ‘Heidi Klum as Heidi’, ‘Wayne Newton as Jimmy 10-Strings’ and ‘David Ogden Stiers as Nicky Flippers’. The brief extras also feature three music videos (‘I Can Do it Alone’, ‘You Know It’ and ‘Perfect Two’), two storyboard sequences, a production artwork gallery, trailers, and two teasers for Hoodwinked Too mobile device video games.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

Overall


Hoodwinked! wasn’t a good movie, but Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is almost irredeemably bad. It’s ugly, it isn’t funny beyond a few minor grins raised by the talented mega-cast, it’s terribly written, and it wastes $30 million dollars like few independent animated films in recent memory. Yes, that is significantly cheaper than the average Pixar, Dreamworks or Blue Sky production, but you could make four Waltz with Bashirs, two Persepolises, and one Triplets of Belleville for that money. The more I think about this one the less I like it, so I’ll just leave you with a warning to stay far, far away.

*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.


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