Plot: Howard Lovecraft was able to evade the dangers of the Frozen Kingdom and return home, but his adventures are far from complete. Once again he is called to protect his father’s journals, but this time around, he has to do so alone. His best friend and bodyguard Spot has been trapped in his astral form, which means he can only do so much to assist Howard. So now he reaches out to his less than stable father, as his mother has been taken prisoner and unless Howard can figure out a solution soon, he could lose his family and more. He happens to going through some wild changes, as he slowly transforms into a fish, so he needs the help of some experts, namely Dr. Henry Armitage. Can Howard unlock the power of the journals and himself in time, or will he lose his family and his best friend?
Entertainment Value: I loved the first Howard Lovecraft movie, as it was so literate and ambitious, though held back by limited resources. In this sequel, the movie seems a little more polished and continues to soak the material in H.P. Lovecraft lore, telling a dark, but engaging narrative. This one has a lot of moving parts and isn’t as simple as most animated films, so you need to pay attention, but the story is quite fun and worth the extra patience. Of course, this is inspired by Lovecraft, so there’s imaginative visuals and monsters to help hold attention, even if the younger viewers are unable to keep up with all the twists and turns. I was glad to see Howard more empowered this time around, as he has to step up with Spot imprisoned, while the scenes with his dad were fun as well, given how goofy his father can be. At the same time, it does run a little slow and heavy on exposition at times, while some previous knowledge of the Lovecraft lore helps a lot as well. The movie does a capable job of filling in the details, but there’s much ground to be covered, so it can be a bit much. But I still think this is a fun, imaginative movie that more than compensates for all the rough edges.
The animation looks a little better this time around, or at least it seems to, with more detail and more fluid movement. No one will mistake this for a Pixar production, but I appreciated the subtle improvements and regardless of the animation issues, it is still a beautiful movie. To see elements of Lovecraft’s lore brought to life in such imaginative and colorful ways is a real pleasure. The basic visual design is consistent with the first movie, but of course, some new creatures arrive and as I said, some of the visuals have been refined a little this time. As for the cast, it is once again an impressive lineup, with Christopher Plummer, Ron Perlman, and Doug Bradley back, while Jeffrey Combs and Mark Hamill add even more talent to the roster here. I found the voice work to be more than capable and in truth, these were just really smart choices, as these actors feel right at home in the Lovecraft realm.