Movie Review: Fantasia/2000

by David Sokol
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fantasia/2000

  • MPAA Rating: G
  • Running Time: 74 minutes

A star-studded new take on the classic.

Beginning with the first strains of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (ta ta ta taaa!), the movie starts out with a bang and whimsical eye-popping animation accompanying what is one of the best-known pieces of music ever written. F2K, like Fantasia itself, fuses music and exciting visuals in a way that's sure to inspire your kids to appreciate and enjoy the classics. Like sophisticated, beautifully drawn music videos, the various pieces heard and shown here are visually engaging and full of detail sure to inspire kids and their patents to want to watch again and again. And to listen to other music together. There's a very contemporary vibe, with various pieces introduced by such luminaries as Steve Martin, Bette Midler, and Quincy Jones, and they give it a warm, comfortable feel. In her introduction to one of the segments, Angela Lansbury explains that Walt Disney once described the art of animation "as a voyage of discovery into the world of color, sound, and motion." F2K is another first-class example of what Walt was talking about, and why this, like all of the best Disney animation, is truly a family experience.

Kids Will Like:

Kids will really like the vibrant music and a lot of the gorgeous action-filled animation, whether it's the dancing abstract shapes in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or the elegant and graceful swimming (and flying!) whales in Respighi's Pines of Rome or the very urban world of the Big Apple that comes alive in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Here, from construction workers building skyscrapers to young girls in their dance class to skaters in Rockefeller Center, the city is captured in all its bustle. Kids will be entranced by the colors (lots of blues) and the energy. And they'll love the now-famous Carnival of the Animals segment where, in brilliant hues, animators attempt to answer the age-old question, "What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos?" And dating back to the original Fantasia, Mickey Mouse, as the frisky Sorcerer's Apprentice, will again charm kids with his bewitching act. Mickey's pal Donald Duck gets his own starring role in one of the new segments as an assistant working on Noah's Ark, and kids will get a chuckle watching and listening to Mickey as he tries to summon an undecipherable Donald before his Pomp and Circumstance spotlight begins. Then, Mr. Duck shows why he's a superstar, summoning creatures great and small onto the ark.

Parents Will Like:

They'll be floored by the astounding Disney animation with its incredible colors and staggering attention to details (check out the shadows and glowing rays of light). As with the original Fantasia, it's a blast to listen to great music and watch splendid visual interpretations. And the movie's various segments and very different musical compositions are tied together with informative, up-beat introductions from celebs ranging from Steve Martin and Quincy Jones to Angela Lansbury and Penn and Teller.

Heads Up:

There are some scenes suggesting mild violence, such as one in which the scheming, big-headed Jack-in-the-Box jealously wants to harm a much smaller wooden soldier in the Steadfast Tin Soldier segment. With his bayonet, though, the soldier prevails and wins the heart of a delicate ballerina. Comedians Penn and Teller then stage a trick in which, for a brief second, it looks like Teller is cutting off his hand with a small axe. But it's brief and Penn calmly explains that all "stage magic" is "a fraud, a hoax, a sham." Teller then cuts off a lock of Penn's ponytail. It's all in good fun and Penn goes on to introduce Mickey and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. The final piece, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, is introduced as a mythical story of "life, death, and renewal." Early on, with a loud, frightening crash, a magical shape-shifting sprite disturbs a huge, dark spirit that erupts, burning the earth as far as the eye can see. Watching the fierce, destructive fire could be frightening to young viewers, as is watching the good sprite run for her life. After the firestorm, she is found and revived by a huge, graceful elk, and she gives new life and beauty to the once-charred land.

Own It?

Most likely. Great visuals, timeless music, and A-list hosts tying it all together make Fantasia/2000 a viewing experience the family will enjoy again and again. Like a favorite musical CD, it gets better with repeated plays, and kids will be eager to watch more than once. Mine sure were! For older kids and adults who love classical (and jazz) and innovative animation, the classy bonus features make this an even tastier treat.

 

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