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"Fantasia 2000"

Written and directed by a slew of people. 
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  1/20/00 


While vacationing in what some might call the "Sunny Havana of the East Coast"--Buffalo, NY--I decided to try and catch "Fantasia 2000" with my kid sisters, Cate "Bill Russell" Bell and Sydney "Cash Cow" Bell, up-and-coming professional basketball stars that double as big-time Disney movie fans.  After all, "Fantasia 2000" is one of the few movies that appeals to kids that I would want to watch, and as opposed to my phat pad in Falls Church, VA, there is an IMAX theatre only 10 minutes from my dad's house.  So, it was all systems go!

"Fantasia 2000" is the sequel to what many of you know--and disagree with--to be my favorite Disney movie of them all, "Fantasia."  I believe that there are two schools of Disney fans:  old skool (enjoy "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Bambi," and my second-favorite Disney movie, "Robin Hood") and new school ("Aladdin," "Beauty and the Beast," "Mulan," etc.).  But even with this broad, sweeping bracketing of the mouse movies, "Fantasia" seemed to be an outlier.  The whole premise of both the original and new versions of "Fantasia" is putting on paper the thoughts of what might occur if this music (classical and jazz pieces) were to come to life.  This allows the animators to make a short story out of, say, "Ride of the Valkyries" and have all the characters move to very set rhythms in truly fantastic settings.  So, if you don't like classical music and you DO like for your animated characters to talk (because they don't in "Fantasia"), the first and second movies may not be for you.

In fact, upon further reflection, I suspect that this is why Disney decided to show this movie in an IMAX format rather than mass-marketed all across the country during the summer.  Think about it:  many cities in the US don't even have an IMAX theater, and if they do, they are not all showing this movie; in DC, there's an IMAX theater at the Air and Space Museum, but the museum could not pick up the movie for its entire four-month run, so Disney said no.  The closest alternative is Baltimore or Richmond!!  This is a little un-Disney to not try and make the most money possible on a first run of one of its movies (no McDonald's tie-ins??)--remember, while Disney may love you, go to Epcot Center and see how much those sodas cost.  See how much they love you then!  Maybe Disney still has plans to release this movie to regular theaters if its four-month trial goes well, but I suspect that Disney is not confident enough in a 70-minute musical involving only classical pieces to show it across the nation.

But, I digress.  "Fantasia 2000" has seven new featurettes--plus one from the first movie, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" piece--set to music and introduced by some A-list performers like Quincy Jones, Steve Martin, and Angela Lansbury.  All were reasonably enjoyable to me except for the second segment, which involved some whales stuck in some icebergs and are eventually flying through the sky; that one was a little slow for me and the musical selection was not doing it!  But, I was quietly sobbing during the Gershwin "Rhapsody in Blue" segment (more a product of the music than of the animation) and the "Life, Death, Renewal" Stravinsky selection at the end of the movie.  Nothing gets me all teary-eyed like good, classical music!  The "Pomp & Circumstance" segment starring Donald Duck was well done also, casting Donald and his love Daisy as Noah and his wife aboard Noah's ark.  It was also very interesting to see the varying animation styles featured throughout the film, although this also brought to my attention how old the first "Fantasia" is because "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" animation is so grainy.  It is sixty years old!

For me, at least, "Fantasia 2000" isn't what it used to be.  I liked the first one more and maybe because I liked the original for its novelty, even when I saw it 15 years ago.  And, it is not very long--70 minutes, and that is with all of those celebrities showing up.  It also didn't help that there was this kid sitting next to me that didn't want to give up the armrest, and (naturally) seemed to be the only kid in the theater that was coughing, talking to her mom, and chewing on popcorn with her mouth open.  Man!

But, I would recommend seeing this one if only because of the IMAX experience.  If you've never seen a movie IMAXed before, this is not a bad place to start.  The sound and the screen are simply amazing.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09