A few words about . . . Lilo & Stitch 2

The film: Tarzan and Lilo & Stitch are some of my favorite Disney animated films from recent years, so it’s unfortunate that the Mouse House has seen fit to milk these two franchises for all they’re worth (sad to think that with Disney there are no stand-alone “films” – just beginnings of franchises). Neither of the Tarzan direct-to-video efforts ever caught my interest, but I love Lilo & Stitch enough to be lured back into their world time and again (never watched the TV series, though).

Disney’s first return to that particular well, Stitch! The Movie, was so profoundly immature and flat-out boring that I actually apologized to my wife for wasting 70 minutes of her life. Everything that I loved about the original movie had been dumbed-down and commoditized such that it resembled every other half-baked and bland Disney direct-to-video and TV cartoon product out there. Now there’s Lilo & Stitch 2, and while it still doesn’t recapture the magic of the first movie, it’s decent enough to merit a viewing from all you Stitch fans out there. The film wisely acts as if the prior Stitch! The Movie never existed (yet), which means it isn’t hamstrung by the bloated and contrived scenario of that flick. There’s more “ohana” stuff, and both Lilo and Stitch undergo crises which reveal themselves to be roughly parallel journeys at the end of the movie. There is a degree of the Idiot Plot in this one, though – readers of Roger Ebert’s reviews will note that the Idiot Plot is where the story requires all of its characters to be stupid and not say the one thing that would solve their dilemma because, hey, then there’d be no movie. So there’s a bit of that. In addition, the writers don’t do too much to expand on the wonderful universe brought to life in the first movie, which means more Elvis references, more fish-out-of-water sequences with the various aliens, and a tacked-on subplot dealing with David and Nani’s maybe-relationship. It’s nothing too eye-rolling, though, and the animators work hard to replicate the animation style of the first film. As a direct-to-video product, Lilo & Stitch 2 is far better than just about anything that has come from its TV animation studio since The Return of Jafar way back when.Image quality: Very nice. The beautiful watercolor backgrounds and tropical hues make the movie’s image a feast for the eyes. Objects on the screen were consistently in focus with appropriate detail and no discernible edge enhancement.

Sound quality: Here’s a stunner – Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 tracks! (Still waiting for DTS on that interminably delayed Lilo & Stitch Special Edition, Disney!) Naturally, I chose the DTS track, and it offered an above-average experience. While the LFE never really reached the wall-shaking lows of the first movie, it was decent enough when certain scenes merited it. The biggest surprise of this track, however, was all the directional dialogue in the mix. As the camera moves ahead of characters in the foreground, their voices carry on from the surround channels – a realistic but surprising element to be found in this of all movies! Nicely done.Overall: If you loved the original, you owe it to yourself to check out Lilo & Stitch 2. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s worth owning, but it’s a nice, harmless diversion if you’re tired of dealing with all the mucky entertainment out there. If you didn’t care much for the first movie, though, you can easily skip it.

Rated: PG for some mild action. Stitch wreaks a little mild havoc, displays a bad attitude, and occasionally lashes out against Lilo, although it’s not wholly intentional.

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