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Fantasia/2000

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rated G

Studio: Disney

Running Time: 74 minutes

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Roy Disney Introduction, Audio Commentary with Roy Disney, James Levine and Don Ernst, Audio Commentary with Segment Directors and Art Directors, "Melody" animated short, "Toot, Whistle, Plunks and Bloom" animated short, "Fantasia/2000" featurette, Collectible Booklet, THX Optimode

 

Disc Specs: THX Certified, 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Digital Transfer, 5.1 Dolby Digital English, 5.1 DTS English, 5.1 Dolby Digital French, English Subtitles, Chapter Search

Walt Disney's original idea for "Fantasia" was to expand on it. Ever time you saw the film, you'd get a new piece. This idea never really went anywhere sadly, but Walt's nephew, Roy, still wanted to continue this idea. In the early 90s, he started to develop "Fantasia Continued" (which is now known as "Fantasia/2000" of course), a set of new pieces with one returning classic favorite (That being "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"). The project was in development forever, but "Fantasia/2000" finally launched on New Year's Day 2000 for a four month engagment in IMAX theaters across the globe (and some began and still are showing after the summer 2000 theatrical engagment ended). The film on IMAX was a tremendous success (I saw it on IMAX and I still believe it is the ONLY TRUE way to expierence the film, it's a very breathtaking), and it had a limited one month engagment in regular theaters across the United States. It wasn't as succesful as the IMAX run, most likely because so many people already dragged themselves to the closest IMAX theater near them months before.

"Fantasia/2000" consists of eight segments. Seven are new, and one is a classic. The film opens with a nice and pretty short one, which is set to Symphony No. 5 by Beethoven. It involves these abstract butterflies (which are basically two triangles) in various colors and chases. It is very nicely done and a good way to open a good film.

After that, the second segment is Respighi's "Pines of Rome", which involves a loveable baby whale and other whales who fly right out of the ocean. The animation on this one is really breathtaking, it seems like a mix of computer and regular hand drawn animation. The detail is wonderful in the animation, and not only "Pines of Rome" is a very good score, the story is also simple and enjoyable. This is probably one of my favorite segments of the movie.

Also another favorite is the marvelous "Rhapsody in Blue" by Gershwin. The animation is inspired by Al Hirschfeld drawings, and deals with the rich, the poor, the young and working in depression-era New York. There is a man who dreams of being a musician, a poor man who yearns for a job and money, a little girl who wants her parents to stop bossing her around and a rich man who wants to be a little bit more free from his wife. But what is best about this sgement is that each story is interconnected.

Based on Hans Christian Anderson's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", comes "Piano Concerto No.2, Allegro, Opus 102". The plot of this one follows a toy soldier who has a little adventure while trying to win the love of a toy ballerina and stop a madman jack-in-the box. The animation in this one flows nicely and has a classic fairy tale look.

The fifth segment, which I really did enjoy and brought a smile to my face, but was REALLY short (I wish it could have been longer) was Saint Sanes "Carnival of the Animales, Finale" . It's choreographed nicely, and involves a fun-loving flamingo who plays with a yo-yo, which distracts and annoys the other flamingos. The animation and color are really nice, but I wish this one could have been a bit longer.

After that is the classic segment, which has gone on to symbolize Fantasia and is probably Mickey Mouse's most famous role. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Dukas (which is rightfully introduced by magic gurus Penn and Teller) tells the classic story of the lazy sorcerer's apprentice, being Mickey, as he takes his master's hat and has the broom do work for him. Of course, there are consequences and everything.

Elgar's "Pomp and Circumastance #1, 2, 3, &4", the famous graduation theme is the topic for a segment involving Noah's Ark, and Donald and Daisy Duck coordinating the animals going on board. This also makes for some wacky comedy, when each think the other is gone for good. Well animated and light-hearted.

The big finale, "Firebird Suite (1919 Version)" by Stravinsky is nice and a marvel to look at. I could tell the ones working on this segment were influenced by the great animation director Hayao Miyazaki and his film Princess Mononoke, because the setting and themes were very similar. It involves the forest and it growing renew and being destroyed. It was good, but I thought it could have been better. The animation is fantastic, though.

Before I even saw the movie, I did hear a lot about the celebrities in the film, who introduce the segments. I felt this made it even more commercial then it already was. But it actually wasn't that bad. It wasn't the best, but it was a lot better then I thought it would turn out to be.

Reactions to the "Fantasia/2000" were mixed. Nearly everyone compared it to the original, and said that this "add-on" was more like a sequel. Some critics gave it lukewarm reviews, others embraced it with much love. The main complaint though was that people felt the animations that went with the music lacked what the original "Fantasia" brought, and how different it was from the first film. I personally loved the movie and was really impressed, it was just so unique and well put together. Though I admit it was a bit different than the original, the passion and feeling was all there in the movie. I also do admit I slightly prefer "Fantasia/2000" over the original. Why? Well, I have to say the pace is much faster, and it does not tend to be boring. Don't get me wrong, I love the original "Fantasia", but you have to admit at some points it does move at a slow pace.

"Fantasia/2000", on the other hand, is flawless, a true reference quality disc. Being transfered directly from digital files, and also THX-Certified, it's truly breathtaking. Colors and hues are accurate, and I couldn't find any oversaturation or bleeding. Shadow and black levels are perfect. Check out "The Pines Of Rome", some of the shots are mesmerizing, it looks pretty real. There is a slight complaint though, I noticed some really, really slight shimmering here and there. However, it's so small and barley noticable, I won't detract anything at all. The film is also anamorphic and benefits from the extra resolution (the aspect ratio is 1.85:1, from when it was in regular theaters). "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" however, is not cropped and keeps the original 1.33:1 ratio, however, it is windowboxed. Great job Disney! Don't forget to use your THX Optimode.

"Fantasia/2000" on the other hand is reference quality with audio. Boasting a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a DTS 5.1 mix, this time around you really do feel like you're trapped in a concert theater and part of this amazing expierence. The dynamic range is all over the place, the .1 LFE is made to good use, and it creates this exciting feeling ("Pines Of Rome", like the video, is also a great way to show off the sound mixes). Also check out when Mickey does his intro, the sounds of him calling are all over the place, giving some great surround and range. I personally prefer the DTS over the Dolby Digital, I felt it was a bit more aggressive and responsive, plus I felt the music had more depth within it. Still, the Dolby Digital is also very good if you watch the movie with that track. Either way, you can't go wrong and you won't be disappointed. A 5.1 Dolby Digital French track is also included (of course, it's only really for the presenters).

The disc begins with a nice introducting from Roy Disney, which you shouldn't simply chapter skip over but watch, as he gives some short insight on this next chapter of the movie. It can also be accessed from the wonderfully animated menus.

Two commentaries are also on the disc. The first is with Roy E. Disney, conductor James Levine and producer Don Ernst. Roy was responsible for bringing "Fantasia/2000" to life, and this track gives all his insights and passion about it. James Levine talks more about the music, and Don Ernst shares his thoughts on production values. Each seem really motivated and have such strong feelings of pride toward the movie, which is good.

The next audio commentary is with the Art Directors and Segment Directors for each piece. So every animation piece you watch, you can hear what the creative forces had to say about their shorts. Most are pretty interesting, and if can get past some of the accents, you'll learn a lot. Though it's hard to give all their thoughts in a mere few minutes, they do a great job of doing so.

Two animated shorts are included on the disc (Disney has been including them with their animated titles as of late, why not release a set?): "Melody" and "Toot, Whistle, Plunks and Bloom", which was nominated for an Oscar. They're a good watch for kids as some musical insight is provided.

Another featurette is included giving more interviews and some additional information on the movie, plus a special commemorative booklet explaining each piece and their music, plus some activities for the kids to do. A nice set of features for a great, beautiful movie.

While thoughts on this movie were mixed, I sure did enjoy it, despite the fact it is a bit different from the original. Disney has delivered some nice features and a wonderful presentation for "Fantasia/2000". If you missed this one in theaters, be sure to check it out and judge for yourself.

(4.5/5, NOT included in final score)

(5/5)

(5/5)

(3/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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