Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998)

Rating:

USA. 1998.

Crew

Directors – Tom Ellery & Bradley Raymond, Screenplay – Allan Estrin, Flip Kobler & Cindy Marcus, Music – Lennie Niehaus, Songs/Lyrics – Marty Danzer & Larry Grossman, Supervising Animation Director – Kazuyoshi Takeuchi, Production Design – Dennis Greco. Production Company – Disney

Voices

Irene Bedard (Pocahontas), Billy Zane (John Rolfe), David Ogden Stiers (Ratcliffe), Donal Gibson (John Smith), Jim Cummings (King James), Jean Stapleton (Mrs Jenkins), Russell Means (Chief Powhatan), Linda Hunt (Grandmother Willow), Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas: Singing Voice)


Plot

While being pursued by former governor Ratcliffe, John Smith falls and is presumed dead. Ratcliffe urges King James to use force in dealing with the American natives. In trying to decide what to do, King James sends John Rolfe to America with orders to return with the Indian chief. In Virginia, Rolfe encounters Pocahontas who decides to return with Rolfe as the appointed ambassador. Her pet animals join her as stowaways. Once in England, Ratcliffe urges the King to regard Pocahontas as a savage and declare war on America. Ratcliffe persuades King James to bet everything on whether Pocahontas will be able to demonstrate class or embarrass herself at the hunt ball. It is up to Rolfe to show Pocahontas how to become a society lady.


Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World is one of an exceedingly cynically motivated attempts upon Disney’s part in the 1990s and 2000s to spin off sequels to their modern and classic animated films. This sequel to Pocahontas (1995) is perhaps even more laughably blatant in its attempts to milk everything possible from an original in that it is not only a sequel to an animated film but also a sequel to a film that was based on an historic incident. Whereas the original was based on an historic incident (albeit loosely), the sequel has to ignore history and fairly much create a complete work of fiction. There is some historical basis to Pocahontas II – there was a John Rolfe and Pocahontas did travel to England where she became the toast of society. However, the historical truth varies so widely from what is depicted here that Pocahontas II can only be regarded as a work of fiction. In actuality, the British made Pocahontas a prisoner in 1612 and held her for over a year. She was only granted release when she agreed to marry English tobacco merchant John Rolfe. Rolfe made her adopt an English name Rebecca and took her to England where she toured British society as his wife.

The surprise in such a worthless genre as the Disney made-for-video animated sequel is that Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World is quite good. Unlike these other direct-to-video sequels, care and attention has been placed into the animation. The confrontations between Indians and settlers are well staged and there is visual grandness in the contrasts between Pocahontas and the snowy landscapes. Where Pocahontas II works best is the story. In fact, one is even prepared to take the heretical step of saying that Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World is a better film than the original Pocahontas. For one, it dumps the wishy-washy New Age, Green-conscious attitude that dragged the first film down. The first story was a mere meeting between two cultures and was dramatically slim. Pocahontas II has a more interesting and substantial story of an outsider trying to make their way in an alien culture, a premise it succeeds in bouncing off with much more humour, dramatic flourish and originality than the first film did. Pocahontas is once again drawn with an assertive moral certainty and the usual line-up of cute, cuddly animal sidekicks are well employed.


Trailer here


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