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Live killers Radio's Review of Balto II: Wolf Quest

rated it: posted: Jun 06, 2010
Reviews: 4 | Newcomer
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(P.S. Spoils ahead)

Balto 2 : Wolf Quest, has a distinct honor when it comes to any animated film that has been made. The reason is…for being controversial, not in the same way that you think of when the word controversial comes to mind, in this case Wolf Quest is a splitting debate when it comes to Balto Fans. Some point out the good points that films has and others will say that it was a weak achievement to the film it was trying to following.

As a fan myself, I will say that the film did have a few strong points to it and it could have been a very welcome addition to the Balto name. But a Marjory of things in the movie where not thought-up fully, making a lot of elements pointless, out of place, or just coming out of no where.

Making a sequel to the first Balto film, would have been like making a sequel to Gone With The Wind. Everything in the first film from the music, the characters, the story, everything was made with so much quietly to detail creatively and by taking the time to make every scene just as important as the next one, it give Balto such a neo & mature type of style, that it took the old cliché that is use in animated films and redefined it from that point on.

So I would at lest give some crated to the people that where working on Wolf Quest, even if a majority of straight-to-video sequels don’t mach the same level that the original did, but I would think that out of a handful of animated films, Balto would be one of that we would have like to see a sequel to just out of curiosity. But with the final film that we have it could have been better, there’s more that works against it then helps it, even with the few good ideas that film has, as a whole it’s a very empty cluster together type of experience, even if you see this as a Balto fan or not. Before I go more into detail, the story must be explain first.

In the world of Balto time has gone by, Balto & Jenna have pups and every pup looks more like Jenna except for one and that is Aleu who looks for like Balto. When the pups are given away, every pup finds a person but Aleu, since she looks and acts more like her wolf side then her husky side. Balto & Jenna worry about this, but believe that one day she will fine a place to be. Time goes by once again, Alue now a young-adult still has found no place with a human and spends her days in the wild. When she comes face to face with a hunter, she thinks that the hunter wants her like a friend, but Balto comes in and saves Aleu from the hunter. It’s here where Balto tell Alue that’s she’s part wolf and most likely be look at as a wolf forever. So Alue decides to not waist time and goes off into the wild to find a place where she belongs. Balto must then go after Alue and find her, but along the way they will both find out what it means to be a wolf….or so we thought.

I’ll start off by saying that, the good ideas for the story where very strong ideas, if they where more well thought out, then it would have made the film better to understand and to make the Wolf Quest idea reach it’s goals.

The idea to have both Balto & Aleu go on this journey through-out the Alaskan wilderness while finding out what it means to be a wolf and to find some meaning for being one for both of them is a grand idea to come up with. In fact, in terms of a Balto story-line this would be the most logical step to do right after the first film. Now I will say that there motivations for going off into the wild is weak, but it gives the opportunity to show more of the place they live in and not shown from a sled-dog point of view.

By going through the vast country of Alaska, we can understand that the elements of the wild will bring out actions & ideas of a wolf, going through situations that only a wolf could do, what are the good & bad sides and what you learn from them, and in the end, to show others why it is important to be a wolf and to have them on this earth. Having the magical elements to bring this out was both a good & bad thing, more on the bad side later. It was trying to stay conceited with the wildlife world that surrounded it & what makes it come to life and how animals have there important parts to play as well, and since native elements are present in Alaska, it’s under stainable where the writer wanted to take the story, out of the white cold snow and into the colorful spirited power wild-country.

After thinking about this idea, this brought up a idea with-in the main story idea. The story of both Balto and Aleu trying to find out something about themselves, shows us two faces of the same coin, but with different means. Aleu is the young wolf, who knows that she didn’t have a great past to talk about, and like all young people at one time in there life say, what is my future going to turn out to be ? So she goes out looking for answers to her questions. When it comes to Balto, at this point he is living in his future that has made him a hero, made him have a family, and has nothing else to prove to himself. But yet, he has no idea what his past was like and it was a good idea to search for those missing pieces, but not too much information, because one of the things that makes Balto interesting, is his unknown past. This was a great way for both characters to intertwined and for both to come full-circle. This would prove to be most effected at the end of the film, it would make Balto & Alue closer as a family and show that won’t so different from each other from the start. If this idea was spoken about on screen much detail as possible, then it would have made a great way to close the film.

I like how Maurice LaMarche presented Balto in this. Since it is years later Balto would sound much older and LaMaurice hit it right on the spot. You can also tell that he did is homework since he keeps the rough-like loner tone of Balto in mind, which was one Vidal element that Kevin Bacon did give to Balto.

I will also say that the back-grounds are well made and really stand out from the average DTV setting that we always see.

With all that said, now comes the bad part of the film, which happens to be the rest of the film. Without spending a lot of time on this, I’ll point out the major problem that hurt Wolf Quest.

First the characters….

Now one of bigest mistakes that the film did, was to have the other main characters from the first film in this film and do nothing. Now we all know that every person in the first film had a part to play no matter who they where, but the film takes the four most important characters next to Balto, and make them stand there and say lines. We only see them for the first time at the beginning of the film, but once Balto goes off to look for Alue, no one gets the idea to help out Balto in any way. Now its understandable on one hand not to have the other characters in the main story, because it’s played as Balto & Alue’s story, fair enough. But to have the very same characters that where shown ¾ of the time in first film and play big roles to Balto and have them just sit there with nothing to do, then why have them there in the first place?

Balto’s actions at times makes me question how he deals with them. A few times in the film, Balto has these dreams that happens to be the work of the magician elements to bring up the past in Balto’s mind. Balto knows that this something important, but at no time did he go off to find any type of answers to this, this just makes Balto look uncaring & lazy. In fact, when any important happens, Balto doesn’t want to be a part of it at all, just sit there and let time fly by. I know he’s old, but not that old.

If there’s any big flaw with Alue I would have to point to Lacey Chabert who plays Alue. Alue is a young-adult and we can tell because of her reasons for leaving, but Chabert makes Alue sound like a 11 year old and that takes away any believe that Alue shows any type of mature changing in any way. I don’t understand why at the end, the movie makes Alue look like she became the strong-will leader, since she really didn’t do anything that brought out this trade in the movie and it’s hard to believe that she just finds out what it means because her situation calls for it.

Story elements/pacing….

Like I’ve been saying, there are magical elements that come in the forms of animals, they are there to be the keys that unlock both the past & wolf sides to Balto and Alue. But when the sprites show themselves they don’t really do anything. All they do is say or do something that has nothing to do with the stuff that Balto & Alue are asking questions to. We see things like ravens, wolfs with glowing eyes, and others that don’t give a clear expiation for being there, other then to be just masteries, but once they come there gone just like that, (case & point the fight with the bear).

When Balto & Alue meet the wolf pack, it feels like they just walked on to a another movie set and add on more characters that happen to just pop out of no where. This whole idea of the wolf pack is not the best idea to have for Balto and Alue’s quest of self-discovery. It feels like the two happen to walk into there area, said there Hi’s and Hellos, and said to themselves “ask no questions, just roll with it”.

Even if the wolfs are there to be some help for there quest and to understand more about what it means to be a wolf, is meaning less since the wolfs act just like the sprites, standing there and give no real information to help us understand.

Then comes the films Achilles' heel, the ending.

When the wolf pack is in trouble and have no one to lead them to the new land, Alue then realities that she must be the leader and knows it’s for the best. Now here is my question…how dose Alue know she is fit and ready to be a leader, she goes on and on in this movie not knowing anything about her self, and just out of no where she feels to take on the role of leadership. This is where you that the movie is trying to end as soon as it can and forgets what Alue was doing this whole time. In fact, if this is the case with Alue then where does Balto fit into this ? If Alue found this out right on the spot, then what was the reason for Balto looking for Alue? Having Balto in here then is kind of pointless.

But the thing that seals the films fate is right after when Alue leaves. Balto sees a raven that has been with him all this time and then right there, it shows itself to be Balto’s mother in sprite. Now I don’t submit to this idea of it being his mom, but she says nothing that Balto doesn’t already know and then Balto walks off screen and we look at the sky…and we end here.

Now some might note a theme going on there and I’ve already point out a few times. The ultimate problem with Wolf Quest is that it a story that sets up interesting questions & ideas…but never are these answered in any way. It like if the writer just said to himself “you know what, they don’t need to found out anything, lets make them come all the way there for nothing”. Some might say that this is not a bad thing, it just makes things more mysteries then they where before. Well then look at it like this, say this is a mystery story and we have to find out who the killer is and from the very start and thought out the story we are told “found out who the killer is”.

Once we come to the end and think we found the guy, we found nothing at all and the killer is still lose. When I saw Wolf Quest for the first time I know it would be my last, and seeing that no one or nothing at all got resolved, the ending to Wolf Quest had the words rip-off written all over it.

If anything Wolf Quest is good example of a good idea gone to waist and no matter what you put into it, with the story idea, it proves that the film will still fail no matter what. But something good did happen out of Wolf Quest and that was Wings of Change, which it went back to the style of the first film and who’s ideas where handle with more care and attention.

Wolf Quest may had look good on paper, but in the end it missed the point.

animated cartoon Balto II: Wolf Quest © Universal
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Balto II: Wolf Quest
2.68 stars / 17 ratings
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