1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #33: Pocahontas

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #33: Pocahontas

Disney Movie Review: 33/52 - Pocahontas

Ryan Dosier - After coming off of a major high with three ultra successes in a row, Disney animation studios released Pocahontas in 1995. While by no means a bad film and by every means a visual stunner, Pocahontas never even comes close to matching the success or enjoyability of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. By comparison, Pocahontas feels rushed in its weak story and not as well fleshed out as its predecessors.
The animation in the film is as dynamic and stunning as it has always been for Disney. The strong presence of the hand of Glen Keane can be felt throughout the film, guiding it as he animates the incredibly realistic Pocahontas, leading the style for the rest of the animators. Much of Pocahontas is the most realistic-looking Disney animated feature thanks to character designs like this. 

Pocahontas may be ridiculously inaccurate historically, but the treatment of Native American culture is handled with respect, dignity, and even admiration. This doesn’t make up for the weak storytelling in the film, but it is still nice to see. Unfortunately the characters don’t stand out at all. Pocahontas and John Smith are boring and hard to root for. We have no reason to really care for either of them.

The film’s villain, Governor Ratcliffe, is the only truly successful character in Pocahontas. He is funny, over-bearing, and truly dastardly. Thanks to his large stature and hoity-toity nature, Ratcliffe stands out among Disney villains as not ultra powerful, but smart and conniving—similar to Scar in The Lion King. Ratcliffe is a good character that deserves a better film.

The supporting characters, Meeko the raccoon, Flit the hummingbird, Grandmother Willow, etc. are all fun and helpful to Pocahontas but none of them are memorable. They are especially unmemorable when compared to the previous three animated films. They are no Lumiere or Timon or Genie.

The music, once again from Alan Menken, is exciting and wonderful for the most part. There are a few songs that don’t really stand out, but songs like “Colors of the Wind,” “Mine, Mine, Mine,” and “Savages” are all excellent. “Colors of the Wind” is, of course, the strongest song in the film. The colors are breathtaking, the animation is outstanding, and it is the clear highlight of Pocahontas. 

Overall, Pocahontas is a real misstep in the Disney animation catalogue. It is enjoyable and beautiful, but it will never be considered a masterpiece or an excellent film. The strong music, awesome Disney animation, and impeccable design make Pocahontas worth watching, but if you’re expecting another masterpiece, look elsewhere.

2.5/5 Blue Corn Moons

1 comment:

  1. Pocahontas is VERY underrated and underappreciated. I think that it IS a masterpiece for what it is and is by no means a misstep. And Pocahontas & John Smith (who are not boring and are actually better and more complex and developed characters than the previous prince and princess-type characters) are one of the best Disney romantic couples ever.