Pocahontas II
Rating -

Animated (US); 1998; Not Rated; 72 Minutes

Irene Bedard: Pocahontas
Donal Gibson: John Smith
Linda Hunt: Grandmother Willow
Russel Means: Powhattan
David Ogden Stiers: Ratcliffe
Jean Stapleton: Mrs. Jenkins
Billy Zane: John Rolfe

Directed by Tom Ellery and Bradley Raymond; Screenwritten by Allen Estrin, Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus

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Written by DAVID KEYES

"Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World" is an above-average Disney sequel. It is a sequel with enough things going for it to get a three-star rating instead of two-and-a-half, the standard for such direct-to-video releases. The approach is an accurate one to the story of Pocahontas, and the music, animation and characters best suit such a low-budget animated feature, which, by the way, is probably the best animated of the television department's career.

Normally, I'd refuse to review such a sequel, but this attention must be paid here, because the original "Pocahontas" movie was not that great. Usually, a Disney sequel jumps back a step or two from its predecessors, as it did with "Aladdin." "Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World" does not--it stays at the same level of the original, by creating entertaining and colorful new characters which have usually been the best things about Disney animated movies.

But, like the first, it has problems, and I gather these problems could not have been prevented. In a way to tell an accurate story of Pocahontas and her sails to the new world for peace, things need to be told precisely in order to appreciate them completely. Disney doesn't do this often, because such stories are to be aimed at children, and must be somewhat modified to fit their young viewing eyes. "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" is a perfect example of that--not only did Disney modify the story, but they improved on it. When they modified "Pocahontas," however, they molded it into an unfinished-type way, ending just where Pocahontas waves good-bye to John Smith as he sails back to England.

I had heard of Pocahontas going to England, and I expected such a journey to occur in the first film. This just did not happen, and the movie felt curiously unfinished. "Pocahontas II" DOES relieve that anticipation by setting her off to England, but by this point, I knew the rest of the Pocahontas story, and knew that when she sailed back to America, she changed her name to Rebecca, married John Rolfe, and had a family. This did not happen in "Pocahontas II," and so it, too, seems unfinished. I imagine the studios will make a "Pocahontas III" in the next year or so to finish up the story, but by this point, I just might be sick of seeing these films, for fear that they will leave out part of the story there as well.

It's okay to modify stories, but it's not okay to cut them off like they did in the "Pocahontas" films. They should be finished, since they are based on history rather than myth. But such a story is so long that if the movie did support the whole story, it would have been four hours long. So, you can see shy such a film cannot have this problem prevented.

But nonetheless, "Pocahontas II" is watchable. I doubt children will care about the story, no matter how unfinished it is, but for adults, who felt outraged at the original film's ending, you can skip seeing the sequel. After all, you'll probably get the same reaction.

1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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