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DVD ReviewMichel Ocelot's diminuitive Senegalese hero Kirikou returns in this sequel to Kirikou and the Sorceress. Having outwitted the sorceress Karaba (Awa Sene Sarr) by getting water for his village, Kirikou (Pierre Ndoffe Sarr) thinks that he will live in happiness and peace. But as his grandfather (Robert Liensol) recounts, his adventures are just beginning. This picture collects four West African folk tales as the struggles of Kirikou and his village continue against the wicked sorceress.
The story picks up right from the end of the earlier film, as Kirikou directs water to the village's vegetable garden, which quickly thrives from his attention and the water. But one night the garden is utterly destroyed by a wild beast that may have been sent by Karaba to wreak havoc. Kirikou alone is willing to discover the nature of the beast, a massive black hyena, and solve the mystery of why such a meat-eater would disturb their vegetable garden. The second tale shows the village attempting to earn money in order to buy food, after the destruction of their garden. Kirikou hits upon the plan of making pots to sell in the nearby town, and soon everyone is helping out with pottery, which they begin to tote on their heads to the town. But when they run across a water buffalo and decide that it will make a good beast of burden, Kirikou's suspicions and warnings go unheeded.
The third tale is the most adventurous, as Karaba determines that the best way to defeat Kirikou is to lure him out of the village by using his curiosity against him. Odd bird footprints do the trick as Kirikou is soon out of the protection of the village and finds himself surrounded by Karaba's fetish army. In the final tale, he uses that army against Karaba. When the women of the village, including his mother (Marie-Philomène Nga), fall ill, the cure rests with a yellow flower found only near Karaba's compound. Kirikou decides that the best way to save the women is to disguise himself as a fetish and make his way in to retrieve the medicinal flowers.
Once again, the picture has gorgeous design that is harmonious with the West African source materials. Color tends heavily towards brown and yellow, with a turquoise sky that emphasizes the equatorial sun. Ocelot's visuals have a nice combination of naturalism and stylization that serves the subject matter well. Traditional costuming is on display, which means that there's National Geographic-style nudity on display throughout, with bare-breasted women and nude children (including little Kirikou).
Characterization is pretty well demonstrated, with small moments that reveal much. Samples of these include the fiery temper of Karaba as she is outwitted, or Kirikou's childish delight at tasting honey and licking it from his fingers. He also has a nice moment of compassion as he tends to an injured ground squirrel. His speedy movement is almost ridiculous and lends an air of lightness to the proceedings. The wild beast of the title is suitably scary, though it occasionally is reduced to money-saving cycling, which is a little jarring against its otherwise naturalistic movements. But on the whole it's quite masterfully accomplished and an interesting glimpse into traditional Senegalese life. The running time is nearly 25 minutes shorter than the box's claimed 95 minute running time, however.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen transfer is generally attractive, though it appears to be mildly cropped from 1.66:1. Visuals nevertheless generally look balanced and only occasionally a little on the cramped side. Colors are bright and attractive, with nice delineation of different shades of brown. The main issue is some PAL/NTSC ghosting that is visible on rapid motion.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: DD 5.1 and 2.0 stereo tracks of the French audio are included. There's some reasonably good differentiation and directionality, and the music is highly atmospheric, using renowned African musicians to create a textured and evocative aural soundscape. The dialogue is quite clear over the delicate web of music, and is well balanced overall.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: There are no extras of any kind. The English subtitles, presented in white, are frequently quite difficult to read, making the accessibility of the picture without an English track even more difficult.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsAn attractive and more episodic followup to the first Kirikou film, with highly attractive visuals. There are, however, no extras.
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