Bambi II may be a pointless midquel, but its focus is interesting; the relationship between Bambi and his father, the Great Prince of the Forest. It keeps that focus for the most part, and that's where the good stuff in the film lies. That, and the climax, which, despite there being little to no stakes, is well executed.
The film has a rather odd idea to start right after Bambi's mother gets shot. In one way it makes perfect sense, since the Great Prince does take Bambi away into the happiest transition of all time. Yet, starting an already pointless semi follow up to one of Disney's most treasured masterpieces, and using one of the most poignant scenes, seems rather, not in poor taste, but strange.
This is a filler movie. Not only is it filling the gap in the original by showing Bambi's childhood and pre adolescence, but it sports pointless scenes with Thumper and his annoying sisters. There's scenes where Thumper teaches Bambi to roar and act brave to impress his father, and, other than one instance where Bambi has an amusing altercation with a porcupine, it just feels like it was placed for cute scenes involving nostalgic characters. The original movie had cute scenes, too, but they used them to their advantage. There was this charm about them. Also, Thumper is useless and irritating here. The callback to the scene where his mother tells him off is out of place, and word for word taken from the meadow scene in Bambi.
The film is not without merit. There is a scene where Bambi has a dream about his mother. This scene has little effect, given that the dialogue is ripped straight from The Land Before Time, but the scene directly after is, for the most part, handled very well. In an earlier scene, Ronno, who was in the original movie Bambi's rival for Faline's love, tells the young animals about Man using a call that sounds like deer to trick them. The film cleverly uses this, and, to my surprise, an effective scene comes from it; I knew Bambi wasn't going to die, but the poor little thing was so convinced that the call was his mother. The emotions in that moment were handled rather well. Except when Bambi froze. That looked so stiff, it was funny.
Patrick Stewart was a fantastic choice to play the Great Prince. His performance was understated and strong. The character was likable, too, despite knowing exactly how his arc was going to play out. It was satisfying, and you wanted to see him get together with his son. When the new doe appears to give Bambi a new home, I felt sorry for both of them. Yes, it was formulaic and cliché, but in a selfish way, it worked. Bambi and his father do develop a nice, believable friendship. It's nice to see.
The climax is very good. The foster mother's dialogue paralleling Bambi's mother's, while Bambi stood frozen, was a clever moment in the screenplay: when Bambi runs, you can tell he won't let what happen to his beloved mother happen to this doe. The animation in this scene is the best in the movie, and when Bambi kicked the dog off the cliff, I thought, good! Survival of the fittest. Of course there was no stakes. The cop out death was stupid, but the Great Prince's reaction made up for it. That was a touching, effective moment... until Thumper cried obnoxiously.
The animation ranged from okay to good enough. The lighting was great, when it was used. There was awful, cringeworthy sound effects in some scenes, and the songs were awful. The score was nice enough, especially the strings when Bambi says goodbye to the Great Prince. I did like that they implemented the theme from the original without overdoing it.
I suppose the question is, if Bambi II is a worthy sequel? The answer is, no, not really, and it does try to be. It does, however, show the development of a worthy relationship. That, alone, is worth recommending the film for. I'd say, skip the scenes other than those with Bambi and his father, and the climax. Right there, is a decent enough novella to attach to the original tale. The heart is in the right place, and it shows... at the right moments.
P.S. I do love the quote by Thumper; "If you're scared, just be scarier than what's scaring you!" I have it on my wall.