fantasia 2000 blu ray 


By Bill Kallay

"Fantasia/2000" is sometimes brilliant, and sometimes ordinary.   

"Fantasia/2000" is now available on Blu-ray. It is part of a 4-disc set that includes "Fantasia" That review is here.

The original concept for "Fantasia" was that it could be changed over the years. New segments would be animated and old ones would be taken out. The film didn't do as well as Walt Disney had hoped, and those plans were scrapped. His nephew, Roy E. Disney, resurrected the plans and finally helped bring his uncle's vision back to the screen. The result was "Fantasia/2000."

The film is set up pretty much like its predessor. The audience is invited to a concert of music and fantastic animation. At times, the film is so awe inspiring, you wonder why the rest of the film falters. As much as the original polarized audiences, the sequel fails to grab the viewer. It's an uneven road the audience takes. The original film, falted for sometimes slow segements, still managed to ellicit an emotional reaction. This film only does it, but not until the very end.

In the original film, Deems Taylor did a credable job in introducing the audience to each film segment. In the sequel, it was decided to allow different movie stars to do the introductions. Quite honestly, this was a mistake and they nearly completely took me out of the film. They were given saracastic lines of dialogue and they treat both the original film's material and the new film's material with indifference. The comedy from some of the actors is not funny. The only classy people doing the introductions are Angela Landsbury and James Earl Jones.

The segments greatly vary.

"Symphony No. 5" by Beethoven mimics the "Toccata and Fugue" segment in the original. The animation is excellent, but like its predessor, doesn't really register with me and honestly it slows down the film's pacing from the beginning.

"Pines of Rome" by Respighi is a noble attempt at great animation, and for the most part, it works well. The issue I have with it is that the animation and story don't seem to match the music. The music is so majestic and regal, the sight of a cute whale and its parents requires whimsical music.

"Rhapsody in Blue" (George Gershwin) is a fine segment. The animation by Eric Goldberg in totally in tune with Gershwin's masterpiece. The story fits fine with the jazzy, contempory American score. I've always admired Goldberg's choice of mimimalist lines and basic backgrounds.

"Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102" (Shostakovich) is an unusual segment. I'm not sure if I like it or dislike it, because the storyline is so basic. It could be that I don't really care for piano music by itself. I'm more a bombastic full orchestra guy. But the toy soldier and porcelin ballerina love story doesn't work for me.

"Carnival of the Animals, Finale" (Saint-Saëns) is a cute little short featuring flamingos, but it's not very memorable beyond the few minutes you watch it.

"Pomp and Circumstance - Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4" (Elgar) no doubt instantly makes audiences think of a graduation ceremony. The choice of this music falls on Michael Eisner. Not that it's a bad choice of music, but it's like using "Jingle Bells" to underscore an animated segment. Been there, done that. What redeems this segment is the re-introduction of Donald Duck back to the big screen. Playing Noah's helper, Donald is just simply fun to watch. At the end, there is actually a bit of emotion involved.

"Firebird Suite - 1919 Version" (Stravinsky) is the film's strongest segment. If there was a piece of animation that held true to the spirit of the original film, this is it. The wood sprite that comes to life is beautifully animated and Stravinsky's composition fits this entire segment perfectly well. Watching this, it's hard not to fall in love with the stunning (and very Disneyesque) backgrounds, story, and animation. I only wish the previous minutes of the film were this grand and this brilliant. The animation here is as good as any done in the first "Golden Age" of Disney.    

The Blu-ray picture quality is stunning. The film was made digitally, so there is no grain and no film texture to be seen. Even "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment from the 1940 version, and the introductions, have been cleaned up to match the new film's look. I saw "Fantasia/2000" in the IMAX version. It was very sharp and clean and that's exhibited here. The actor introductions were soft and grainy in appearance on the IMAX screen. It always seemed odd that once it was decided to show the film that way, that Disney just didn't pony up the money to film those segments in IMAX. And "Apprentice" was very grainy blown up to the large format. But you'll see no grain here.

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is excellent. There are some very powerful orchestral "booms," especially during the "Firebird Suite" segment. They're enough to make you jump out of your seat.        

I'm grateful that Roy E. Disney apparently pushed the animation division to finally bring "Fantasia" into the new century. It's not a perfect experiment, but at least it tries.                   

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: © Disney. All rights reserved.


Not quite the masterpiece "Fantasia" was, but it has its merits

Director: Various

Cast: Steve Martin, Bette Midler, Eric Goldberg

Not enough extras included but "Destino" is included; DVD also copy included


Picture: Excellent
Sound: Excellent

Aspect Ratio (1.33:1 and 1.78:1)


November 30, 2010

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