MGM Studios DVD presents
All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996)
"Look at this mess, Itch. Trash. Exhaust fumes. Graffiti. We are home!"- Charlie (Charlie Sheen)
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Sheena Easton, Dom DeLuise
Other Stars: Ernest Borgnine, George Hearn, Bebe Neuwirth, Adam Wylie
Director: Paul Sabella, Larry Leker
MPAA Rating: G for (some violence and intense scenes)
Run Time: 01h:22m:47s
Release Date: 2001-03-06
DVD ReviewIn the late 1970s, Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, and John Pomeroy were animators working for the Disney Company. When they were told that there pitch for a cartoon based on the novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. was too dark for children's fare, the three left the company to form their own studio. Soon after, 20 members of the Disney team followed. The Secret of N.I.M.H. was released to theaters in 1982, and though it didn't make a large impact in financial terms, it proved director Bluth a talent to watch in the field; his decidedly non-Disney approach stood out all the more considering the slump Disney was in following The Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound, both of which garnered lackluster reviews and were poorly received by audiences.Over the next decade, Bluth continued his quest to provide an alternative to the Empire of the Mouse, directing several more well regarded features (often with partner Goldman), including An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and, in 1989, All Dogs Go to Heaven, before hitting a creative slump that lasted throughout the '90s (save Anastasia, though my affection for that film probably goes beyond its merits). Their final real success, All Dogs Go to Heaven, is classic Bluth, with an inspirational story undercut with a level of violence, menace, and darkness surprising in children's animation. Though only a minor hit at the box office, the film certainly is worthy of the director's name.So it makes sense that, when looking to revitalize their animation studio in the 1990s, MGM turned to the Bluth catalogue for inspiration, producing sequels of some of his most popular films (much the way Universal did with The Land Before Time, which has been "blessed" with seven sequels to date), creating The Secret of NIMH 2 and All Dogs Go to Heaven 2.The latter is basically a partial retread of the first film. The story again focuses on misfit dog Charlie Barkin (Sheen) and his sidekick Itchy (DeLouise), who are both in heaven after the events of the last movie. Unfortunately, so is the villain, Carface (Ernest Borgnine), because really, all dogs go to heaven. When Carface tries to steal the magical Gabriel's Horn, it falls to earth, and Charlie and Itchy are sent back once again to retrieve it. Red, a satanic cat (I hate that the cat is always the bad guy... though, come to think of it, if an animal is going to be evil, the cat is the more likely culprit than the dog, but still...), tempts Charlie with a collar that will return him to a flesh and blood body, providing he gives up the horn, the blowing of which will make all the dogs fall from heaven to hell (and the Don Bluth creepiness factor remains). Once again, Charlie also falls in love with a sexy setter (Easton), and helps a poor orphan find a family.I quite liked the original elements of the story, and I actually find the central plot more compelling than the that of the original. Cat prejudice aside, the entire Gabriel's Horn conceit, and how it plays out, works very well (while providing a valuable lesson about doing what's right verses pleasing yourself). Unfortunately, the story is bogged down by the orphan subplot, which is basically copied verbatim from the original and not handled half as well.The great Bluth character designs remain, but the animation isn't nearly as impressive as it was in the first film, no doubt owing to the much lower budget. And co-director Paul Sabella, who produced The Smurfs, rarely travels beyond the creative limits of that rather mundane TV show. The voice acting is decent, though, and surprisingly enough, most of cast from the forebearer has returned, save the late Vic Tayback as Carface and Burt Reynolds as Charlie. All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 has its fair share of good ideas and entertaining conflicts. I could have done without the unnecessary musical interludes and the recycled elements from the first film, but as far as sequels go (especially sequels produced 7 years later), this ain't bad (though I did downgrade the score a notch for the orphan factor).
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - P&S|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: This disc was produced in the days when MGM included pan & scan on most of their "Movie Time" DVD line. Thanks goodness they've turned it around in the last year. Aside from the hateful cropping of the original 1.85:1 image, this still is a rather poor picture. Colors look really washed out and grimy. Film grain is sometimes very obvious. I noticed some line jitter, artifacting, and aliasing, and blacks aren't as deep as they should be.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
|DS 2.0||French, Spanish||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: Hey, a magical 5.1 track that sounds like 2.0! Dialogue is always understandable, but not really anchored well in the center channel, with some bleed through to the mains that results in unnatural ADR. The front soundstage handles the brunt of the action, and is fairly constricted. The music doesn't have much dynamic range, though the sound effects are fine, with limited directionality. This gets the job done, but doesn't impress.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: Just the trailer. Major demerits for not including an English subtitle stream. Boo, MGM of the past. Yay, MGM of today.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsWhile not as all-around enjoyable or effective as the original, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 is actually worth your family's valuable togetherness time, providing you can stand the saccharin elements recycled from the first film. Just keep an eye on your cat during the movie.
Joel Cunningham 2002-02-13