1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #38-39: Fantasia 2000 & Dinosaur

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #38-39: Fantasia 2000 & Dinosaur

Disney Movie Review: 38-39/52 - Fantasia 2000 & Dinosaur
When the new millennium began in 2000, Disney animation celebrated in a major way by releasing three animated feature films in that year alone. The first two features in 2000 were Fantasia 2000 and Dinosaur. These films are strikingly different in quality but neither of them managed to make much of an impression when they were released.

Fantasia 2000 is the continuation of Walt Disney’s idea that Fantasia be updated and continued consistently. Though it took 60 years for the idea to be continued, Fantasia 2000 proved that it could definitely be done. Just like Fantasia, this film features eight animated pieces set to orchestral music. The effect is beautiful and showcases some of the most beautiful animation of this period. 

The seven pieces include some highs and some lows. The only piece that I don’t enjoy at all is “The Steadfast Tin Solider,” which never succeeded in capturing my interest or imagination. The rest of the film is very impressively done. There is a stunning mix of traditional and computer animation throughout most of it, starting with the beautiful “Pines of Rome” segment starring flying whales. The techniques used here provide a consistent sense of awe. The lighting and shadows are incredible.

My favorite segment in Fantasia 2000 is “Rhapsody in Blue,” inspired by the art of Al Hirschfeld, who also inspired the design of the Genie in Aladdin. “Rhapsody in Blue” is a magnificent display of outstanding character animation, impeccable storytelling, and magnificent music. The colors that abound in this piece are amazing and the designs of everything leap off the screen. “Rhapsody in Blue” is the most fun and enjoyable part of an already enjoyable film.

The rest of Fantasia 2000 is packed with fun segments like “Carnival of the Animals” featuring a flamingo with a yo-yo or “Pomp and Circumstance” starring Donald Duck in the story of Noah’s Ark. The most powerful sequence in the film, by far, is the finale, “The Firebird.” It is gorgeously animated and spectacularly epic. It ends Fantasia 2000 on a very high note. 

While Fantasia 2000 may not be as influential as Fantasia, I still find it to be just as strong of a film. While it lacks the narrative of my favorite Disney features, it still has the power and the humor and the fun. Fantasia 2000 is a delight.

And then there’s Dinosaur, one of the weakest Disney animated features ever made. While it is a visually stunning film, it lacks any sort of charm, storytelling prowess, or appeal present in most previous films. Really, the only thing to enjoy in this film is the spectacularly realistic computer animation. The dinosaurs truly look real. The use of actual, real-life backgrounds and props help to enhance this realism even more.

The characters are terrible. None of them make any impression. Even the great Pearl Bailey, who provides the voice of one of the dinosaurs, fails to be anything but boring. The film tries too hard to make its characters “modern” with attempted snappy dialogue—it fails miserably. One has to wonder if the film would have worked better as a silent film with no dialogue. I certainly think it would have, but I don’t think anyone would have seen it.

The only other bright spot of Dinosaur is the musical score. It is wonderful at times and provides some really great tracks to accentuate the excitement of living in the time of dinosaurs. It’s a major shame that the rest of the film couldn’t hold that same level of excitement. For a movie about dinosaurs, Dinosaur is nothing but boring, predictable, and plain. But it’s still better than The Black Cauldron

Fantasia 2000 - 3/5 Yo-yoing Flamingos

Dinosaur - 1/5 Leaping Lemurs

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