Babe: Pig In The City review

This is an altogether darker affair than Babe's first adventure - and deliberately so. Director George Miller felt its predecessor touched on the flipside of farm life (animals get eaten, dogs attack sheep).

But if Babe were to venture into the city, then that must be shown to be an even more dangerous place... As a result, author Dick King-Smith, who wrote the original, wasn't consulted this time round. Instead Miller dreamt up a wish-list of animals to work with and created his own story, sharing the writing credit with Judy Morris and Mark Lamprell.

He also burned $90 million on realising his vision. It's easy to see where the money went: the lavish metropolis sets (the city is a combination of all the world's capitals), huge scenes with immaculately costumed extras and, of course, the animals (799 of them), all staying on the Australian film lot, must have pushed up the bill. There's even a special song sung by Peter Gabriel.

What there isn't, though, is the first pig flick's magic. The story doesn't make sense and Babe doesn't really save the day. He just wanders around the city, trying to do the right thing, but looking like a scared little oinker. And that's another problem: many of the animals look genuinely distressed.

Of course, at times it's difficult to tell the animatronic models from the real critters, but having a pig running around a farm is very different to, say, having an orang-utan dressed in a dinner suit, cradling a goldfish bowl for comfort as its home is smashed to pieces. There are a lot of dressed-up animals here, which makes this Babe more of a circus show than a modernist fairy story.

Older kids may enjoy it but the younger ones will be upset, while the adults entertained the first time round are unlikely to find the same magic. The pig, his animal mates and the human cast do their best, but they're hampered by poor material.

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