Steve Martin: You know, Fantasia was meant to be a perpetual work in progress. Every time you went to see it, you’d experience some new pieces along with some old familiar favorites. But that idea fell by the wayside, until now.
59 years after the original we finally got a sequel to the beautiful 1940 Fantasia known as Fantasia 2000. The original movie set standards in animation and storytelling that were difficult to surpass. And sadly this movie wasn’t able to surpass those standards. However, it is far from horrible. The good aspects of this movie truly shine but there are some misses in the process.
Much like the original did the combination of classical music with Disney animation composes the movie. The movie opens with a similar formula by using Symphony No. 5 by using abstract but beautiful imagery to describe how one might visualize listening to the song. However, it seems to have a very inconsistent sense of direction as while doing this it also seems it’s trying to tell a story about these butterflies being pursued by bats all the while. There are also times where the music and this story don’t match up.
Pines of Rome is probably the best of the segments. The CG on the humpback whales is fantastic and truly gives a great deal of weight to the story. And the narrative knows how to build itself up in a splendid fashion. This segment along with Rhapsody in Blue, Piano Concerto No. 2 Allegro, Opus 102, and Firebird Suite brilliantly combine traditional animation with new styles.
It does, however, feel that the movie tried to be more kid-friendly. And this shows in some of the segments including The Carnival of the Animals and Pomp and Circumstance. Both feel like something that were meant to be more of Disney cartoon shorts than something in a Fantasia movie. But the latter in particular can get funny at times. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is also replayed and is always fun and it makes sense considering it was how the whole idea began.
The live-action segments are expanded significantly in comparison to the original. In the original, it was mostly just Deems Taylor giving background information prior to each segment. And he delivered it in a manner that felt like he was talking to the audience on their level whether it was kids or adults. Here you have Steve Martin who seems a lot focused on making unfunny jokes.
There are also celebrity cameos introducing the segments. And while they are good actors they really feel out of place with the rest of the movie.
On the whole, the movie is hit-or-miss. However, the stuff that shines truly shines and none of the animated segments are bad on their own. They just don’t hold up to the standards that the predecessor set. On the whole, I’d recommend it for a Fantasia fan.