Saturday, September 22, 2012

D52 - Week 38 - Fantasia 2000

Kevin's Piece
Remember watching the original Fantasia back in the third week of January? It kinda seems like forever ago. Now trying to imagine the gap being 59 years, now that's something else. I went back to my Fantasia post and was surprised at how little I had to say about it. I did write shorter reviews earlier in the year, and there's not much to say about less plotty features, but it was just over two hours long. Then you have Fantasia 2000, at...75 minutes? Huh. And yet - and Amanda will disagree with me - I found I enjoyed it more. Fantasia did have many great segments, but for me the only one that really stands out in my recollection is The Sorceror's Apprentice...which is in Fantasia 2000 as well anyway! Speaking of which, geez. I thought we were past the recycled animation era. The Sorceror's Apprentice from Fantasia 2000 blatantly copies so many animation sequences directly from The Sorceror's Apprentice from Fantasia! But seriously, it's an interesting choice to include that in the 2000 version. Similar to how I found Finding Nemo 3D a worthwhile additional experience even after having seen it many times on home video, I would've liked to have experienced The Sorceror's Apprentice in full theatrical sound. er, The Sorceror's Apprentice the short, not the Nicolas Cage movie. I mean, not to judge the Nic Cage one. For all I know its music might be quite good too.
As for the new segments, while not every piece is a home-run, the ones that are, are hit out of the park and into the stratosphere. The Rhapsody in Blue cartoon actually reminds me of Looney Tunes, but if they were done to a perfect Disney polish. If there's anything wrong with it, it's that the animation is timed so well with the music, that I'm distracted by my amazement at how well it's timed with the music. The Steadfast Tin Soldier has got the right idea with working around then-CGI's limitations through stylization. The Carnival of The  Animals is short but sweet. My favorite's gotta be Donald Noah's Ark. I get a kick out of Donald's reaction to the other ducks on the ships. It's about time a Disney character has directly acknowledged the strangeness of Disney toon species, even, especially because it was done as a fleeting gag. It even leaves more questions unanswered, like were Mickey and Minnie and Goofy somewhere on that ark and...well my point is it's a great philosophical piece.
The other pieces...are very pleasant to watch and listen to, but...what else can I say? Space whales and Mother Earth Stag.

Favorite character: It's great to see Donald in a D52 role again, and not flirting with human ladies.
Least necessary characters: I'm unclear: What exactly were the other soldiers off doing when the steadfast one was fighting for his girl?
Overall: Maybe it's because I'm partial to funny toons over terribly classy ones, but I'll take the eye-and-ear candy of Fantasia 2000 over the refined palate plates of Fantasia any day.

Amanda's opus

Fantasia 2000 to me had so much more potential in planning than what was used in the final movie.  I'm not saying it was bad, because it wasn't, but it plays out more like a cheesy clip show than polished, carefully planned movie piece.

Kevin was right when he said I'd disagree with him, but I think it's entirely based in the idea of education.  I always felt that the original Fantasia was a way to not only entertain audiences, but to educate them in some of the older finer musical culture of the world and to do so with a spoonful of sugar that is visual stimulation.  Let us consider the opening sequences in which there is no story and the music doesn't evoke concrete ideas.  I felt that stylistically the original enhanced the idea of surrealism and abstraction through the use of unusual and infrequently used media within the context of animation.  I noticed how the brush marks made me think of chalk drawings, pastels, oil paints and anything other than pencil to paper animation.  And yet despite all the details that I noticed, I was never distracted from the music that inspired the design and I could hum a few bars if you asked me.  In the more recent film opening sequence, I felt distracted by the visuals rather than feeling that they complimented the music.  It was almost too concrete and I couldn't think about just the music and the colors; I was distracted by thoughts like "those triangles look like butterflies... oh I guess that's what they're going for." and "Is that a waterfall?  So we're in the forest?" As a result, I can't tell you the first song nor can I hum a few bars.

I can't say I'm a fan of the celebrity introductions either.  I almost feel like the filmmakers believed that if they didn't have celebrities that the film wouldn't be interesting enough and that's just plain insulting to my intelligence. 

When it comes to each musical sequence, standing alone they are all very nice, but all together there's just too much story for my taste.  It makes this feature feel more like a package film than a night at the orchestra.  While I understand bringing back The Sorcerer's Apprentice and introducing Donald's Pomp and Circumstance as the two big story pieces, I feel overwhelmed when being presented with The Steadfast Soldier, The Rhapsody in Blue's New Yorkers wishing for Happiness, The Naughty Flamingo, Green Goddess fights Fire, and Whales go to Heaven.  The original Fantasia only gave story to The Sorcerer's Apprentice and all the other musical sequences had a very vague theme at best and for my taste, that's a good thing because the music which let's not forget came first and was the inspiration never takes a backseat. 

Now once again, let me say that none of the sequences were bad!  Each one stands alone and each one would be a very entertaining short with which to present before any other movie, but because they are each so strong on their own, they feel as if they are clashing within this one film.

Favorite Character: I miss The Soundtrack... but I'll pick The Flamingo with his Yo-Yo.  It's short, and it's a good laugh.
Least Necessary Character: All the Celebrities.  I just don't see what was so wrong with a stoic narrator.  He wasn't distracting and he wasn't trying to get a joke in and upstage everyone.
Overall: It's still good.  There's a lot of beautiful animation and there's a lot of beautiful music and I just wish they could get along better instead of trying to play King of the Hill.  It's still worth a watch and I hope very much that they come out with another Fantasia eventually because I really do enjoy a night at the Orchestra.

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