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MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 76 minutes
Written by: Peter Sauder
Directed by: Dale Schott
Retail Price: $14.95
Features: Bonus Trailers
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Mono, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, French Subtitles English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (28 Scenes)
Released: April 8th, 2003
Pardon me for getting a little bit sappy here and a bit nostalgic here, but I'm proud to say that I was (mostly) a child of the 1980s. I could spend hours recounting my love of Popples, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many other great character properties, but I'm going to focus on one here: Care Bears. Actually, now that I think about it, I wasn't a major Care Bears fan. I didn't own any of the dolls or any Care Bears-related merchandise (though a comeback is being attempted... I've seen dolls in stores. Will this be as ill-fated as the 2001 Popples rebirth?), but I did watch the television show rather often. I don't think I've ever seen the first movie starring the magical animals. Yet when I think of Care Bears, I still think fondly of them. Why you ask, even if I wasn't a devotee to the cult that they spawned? Well, part of it is mainly nostalgia for such interesting and happy times. But mostly it is because of this movie.
Even though I was REALLY young when this movie came out and didn't see it in theaters, I've seen it many, many times. I'm pretty sure my Dad brought home the video one day for us and the rest is personal history. My sister and I used to watch this movie constantly, for reasons I don't even know why. Probably because we were both young, we both wanted to be entertained and we enjoyed what this movie offered us youngins. We'd just pop it in when we were bored, and we'd sit and follow through with the whole thing. I suppose some kids never get sick of certain videos and could watch them all time (you know, the ones where parents want to shoot themselves after seeing them just once), and for me and my sister, "Care Bears Movie II" was just one of those videos. We'd watch, we'd smile and we wouldn't complain.
When I revisited the film on DVD, it was like going through a time warp. The last time I caught a portion of this movie was in 1994 on The Disney Channel (you know, in the days where they showed random stuff that was for kids and where it wasn't clogged up 24 hours a day with their own series and TV movies aimed for tweens). And yes, my sister did watch too. That was the last time we watched any bit of the movie together. You see, we moved to Los Angeles years and years ago (and later moved back near our old home) and I believe during the shuffle of the move, we lost the original video tape (to my utter disappointment). How I remember that tape... the shiny, cheerful box art (much better than the ugly DVD box!) and the tape itself with the "Magic Window" logo plastered all over it and the same damn block font that was on every other "Magic Window" tape (for those who are too young to remember "Magic Window," it was what the brand RCA/Columbia used to distribute their family videos).
But back to the time warp thing. As cheesy as this is going to sound, rewatching this movie as a whole after all this time was just plain weird, as if I was returning to the past and if I was recapturing the innocent, fun, love-filled days of my youth. Of course it sounds pathetic and sad. Even worse, while rewatching the film, I remembered every single part to the movie, where the song cues came in and all those little details. It was just creepy, as if this movie was some artifact that held a special place in my heart and represented some major part of my childhood.
But enough of my stupid, boring memories. Unless you're under the age of six, chances are you're going to find this movie cheesy as hell. Even though I haven't seen the first film, this "sequel" is pretty much a prequel (Why the hell they didn't retitle the DVD release "Care Bears - Episode 1: The Dark Heart Menace" is beyond me). Basically, most of the Care Bears are babies and they grow up to preach the power of love, caring and sharing. The Care Bears help a young girl named Christy at sleep away camp with very low self esteem feel better about herself and her abilities. But our young protagonist is being manipulated by the evil Dark Heart (in human, "camp champ" form!) to trap our magical friends (in special crystals no less!).
...anyone want to guess what happens?
Even though this film was released theatrically, chances are a new generation (HAHA, PUNNY!) are going to mistake this movie as a worthless, direct-to-video sequel. It wasn't. This movie isn't anywhere near Disney standards, but if you're the right age (or an old sucker like me), it sure can be fun and enjoyable. The story is predictable and grating, but teaches its viewers about confidence and how important it is to be different. The animation is colorful (well it is a happy-happy saga), yet lacks true flow and detail - (it's close to television animation basically (and the words don't always match the mouths). The voice acting certainly works great for this movie, but there are no memorable names and the voices are passable. And then you have songs by Stephen Bishop and Debbie Allen. No, they're not memorable in that Broadway way (unless you've experienced this movie over and over like myself and these songs make you feel all sad inside since they brim with 1980s goodness), but they fit the context of the film perfectly and will make you feel that having root canal is more enjoyable.
It's been at least twelve solid years since I've seen this "Care Bears" sequel (if you even want to call it that) in full, but it was a trip worth retaking for my own purposes. And while I do miss that dirty, worn-down VHS tape, I'm glad to have finally replaced it (even if the DVD's quality isn't much better!) and own this movie once again. It pales in comparison to other "classic" animated films, and yeah, it's not masterful in any sense. Being older and wiser and having experienced much more in the real world and in cinema, I know this movie is pretty bad and is way off in many areas. Still, you can call me crazy, but I will enjoy this movie forever and be entertained by its mediocrity, no matter what. Just seeing it again made me smile. It also unleashed a huge wave of happy memories and nostalgia, making me feel almost as if I was that wee little lad sitting on the couch in the den of my family's old house, with my sister, and just escaping to such a magical, whimsical world all over again. And you know what? It felt nice. Very nice.
"Care Bears II: A New Generation" is presented in 1.33:1 full screen, which apparently was its original theatrical aspect ratio. It's not great, but not nearly as bad I as I expected. The film is filled with scratches, dirt pieces, nicks, blemishes and obviously wasn't cleaned up in any way possible (not that as I was expecting that would happen). It is also pretty grainy, a bit faded and certainly a little soft (not that those buying this DVD will care about all of this). The colors aren't fully saturated, but look good enough to me. And then you have a whole bunch of noise to deal with. Still, it is watchable and I've seen much worse.
The sound isn't directly identified, but I'm pretty sure the track (and only track here) is a two channel English mono track. No 5.1 mix here. Sad to say, the sound quality is pretty lousy and I'm sure no effort to make it sound the best was brought to the DVD mastering process. Nothing here has punch and fidelity is incredibly low. Yeah, you can hear the characters talk, the music in the songs and the sound effects, but nothing will stand out in the slightest bit (the Dark Heart dragon form at the start of the movie doesn't sound scary at all). It's almost as if you're listening to this on a radio with a very tinny speaker. Oh well... I guess hearing the stuff, even if it sounds low and crappy with no boost at all should count for something. Also included are English closed captions, English subtitles, French subtitles and Spanish subtitles.
Of course, nothing of real value. You do get two "bonus trailers" though: one for "Kermit's Swamp Years" and the other advertising other Columbia/Tristar kiddie flicks.
The only people I see buying this DVD are losers like me, those who have fond memories of the 1980s or parents who want to get their kids yet another animated movie. No real extras to speak of, an old audio track and a rather musty transfer doesn't make a good DVD. Yet with that said, the retail price is under 15 dollars and I'm sure you can get it for much less than that. So if you want to treat your kids or relive your childhood, then let me say it is a price well worth paying.