Back when it came out in 1940, “Fantasia” was a masterpiece. In a time when animated adventures were purely of the “Snow White”/”Bambi”/Donald Duck breed, here was a film which dared to do something completely different. While it wasn’t appreciated in its time and flopped at the box-office, much like “Blade Runner” it is considered a true classic of cinema. Sixty years later comes the sequel – a shorter, more stylised new combination of eight pieces with a variety of animation styles. Every person will have a difference of opinion about their favorite pieces. My personal comments are as follows: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: Abstract piece, quite forgettable.
Pines of Rome (The Whales): After a sad and relatively ordinary first half, the last few minutes of this majestic piece features dozens of whales soaring high above the clouds in the film’s most memorable scenes.
Rhapsody in Blue: Good music set to a surprisingly disappointing animated piece about various people in 1930’s New York. Overly long.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: The classic piece has lost a little punch, but is still one of the most memorable pieces of animation in history. Darn good bassoon tune too.
Carnival of Animals (Flamingo): Short, sharp and fun. A real delight.
Tin Solider: Quite conventional tale, though the animation is good. Forgettable music.
Pomp and Circumstance: Donald Duck Noah’s Ark tale turns out to be pretty good.
The Firebird: A beautifully animated piece about mother nature’s growth, death and rebirth.
In comparison to the original it just doesn’t stack up. Not only were many of the songs in the original far more memorable pieces (Nutcracker Suite, Night on Bald Mountain, Ave Maria) but even the ones which weren’t as well known had thoroughly memorable animation (eg. Greek mythological gardens, crocs & hippos dancing).
Other than maybe the whales, none of the new sequences really stick with one long after they’ve left the cinema. Interspersing the segments with stars is actually a decent idea and while some don’t work, others like Steve Martin provide a nice comic relief while Bette Midler does a great bit about sequences which were heavily considered and rejected.
At a 73 minute running time and on IMAX this is certainly a great flick to take the family too and get a real delight out of, but its not really one to organise a major night around or journey to see. On the normal film screen the impact will probably be even less.