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Babe: Pig in the City/B,A

Universal/1998/95m/ANA 1.85, FS 1.33

      The sequel to Babe picks up with the wondrous pig receiving a huge welcome after his victory in the sheep dog championships. Life on the Hoggett farm is thrown into chaos when Farmer Hoggett has an accident. Mrs. Hoggett just can't quite get things on the farm going efficiently and when the bank is about to foreclose, the farmer's wife decides to take Babe to a far away county fair for the appearance money. The flight requires a plane change in a big city airport and that's when Babe: Pig in the City gets going in high gear. It seems nothing Babe is having one miserable string of luck. Waiting in her baggage cage to be picked up, the friendly pig engages a drug dog in conversation that backfires when the sniffer decides to demonstrate how he gets his treats. Babe and Mrs. Hoggett are delayed by drug enforcement agents and miss their connecting flight, leaving them alone in the city. Too late to make the fair, matters are complicated since the next flight back is several days away. Mrs. Hoggett finds her a nearby hotel that is friendly to animals to wait. But there's plenty of trouble ahead in the big city before Babe can save the day with an excellent assist from an acrobatic Mrs. Hoggett.
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Babe leads the wayİUniversal

          Babe's world in this sequel is very artificial, more akin to Lady and the Tramp than the very fine original pig opus. I don’t think it would play as well as it does without having seen the first film. So much depends on knowing Babe's history and character. Babe was a natural part of the farm world that introduced audiences to him. His city existence is very much artificial. His adventures with the abandoned and forlorn animals of the street is often overwrought with pathos and some of the scenes are pretty intense for youngsters. The array of animals that look to Babe as a leader range from orangutans and monkeys to dogs and cats and of course a loyal duck.
     The animal special effects work looks brilliantly effortless. It's hard to believe that these animals aren't chatty away loquaciously. Set design varies in strange combinations of real, cartoon-like computer generations and theme park fantasies. Photography is scrapbook fresh with compositions of great depth. Still, the little details that made Babe so wonderful, like the Greek chorus of mice, are used with tepid effect, almost as if the creators felt an obligation to include them again. I also missed the nice interaction between Babe and Farmer Hoggett. There is no comparable human relationship in Babe: Pig in the City.
     George Miller who co-wrote and produced the first film adds directing duties this time out. Miller keeps the action going fast and furious and emphasizes the slapstick and the saccharine. Some sweetness has been left on the table somewhere on the farm.
     A truly gorgeous DVD with lush, saturated colors, Babe: Pig in the City ranks as a reference to measure other DVDs against. Colors stand out beautifully against one another. The distinct colors of the clothing worn by the monkeys and orangutan and the pink of the poodle stand out against the backgrounds perfectly with absolutely no bleeding. The image is penetratingly sharp without obvious edge enhancement. The smallest details are realized with precision. Much of this Babe is dark visually as well as spiritually and the contrast level are brilliantly executed. Every crevice cast in shadow is easily discernable. The Dolby Digital 5:1 surround sound is very directional. Sounds are located with precise accuracy. Pans from speaker to speaker are seamless. This is a fabulous DVD in every regard.