Revisiting movies that are parts of sets
Despite the fact that Fantasia 2000 runs on the same idea as the original Fantasia, it really comes off as being a wholly different film, a product of a different era in artistic style, with the exception of the classic "Sorcerer's Apprentice" from the original Fantasia that comes back to be included in this second, shorter collection.
Some dialogue from the interstitial sequences in Fantasia introduce the first piece, "Symphony No. 5 in C minor-I. Allegro con brio" by Ludwig van Beethoven, a rather popular and famous piece and done in an abstract battle between light butterflies and dark bats. The second segment is the "Pines of Rome" by Ottorino Respighi and follows a pod of flying whales. George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" is set to an Al Hirschfeld-styled New York and the following "Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major-I. Allegro" by Dmitri Shostakovich goes for a Disneyfied take on the originally dark Hans Christian Anderson's The Steadfast Tin Solder. The brief finale of "The Carnival of the Animals" by Camille Saint-Saëns has a short comic moment where a rogue flamingo has fun with a yo-yo and that's followed by "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Donald Duck has a moment to shine in a take on the Noah's Ark story set to the popular graduation march, "Pomp and Circumstance – Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4" by Edward Elgar and the film closes with Igor Stravinsky's 1919 version of the "Firebird Suite", where a nature sprite awakens the terrifying firebird of the volcano, which aims to consume her work in bringing the forest from winter to life. All this is brought together by celebrity hosted interstitials to introduce the various pieces.
The different segments are hit and miss, but all feature a very modern, engaging visual narrative style that might lack the charm of the original Fantasia, but is certainly more attuned to modern visual storytelling, so despite my tiredness, I didn't fall asleep at all. That said, I did feel that the flying CGI whales were a bit much and fall short of the attempt at capturing the broad sense of grandeur of the "Pines of Rome", the Steadfast Tin Soldier segment far too saccharine and the opening Beethoven piece a little bit too obvious. I thought the "Rhapsody in Blue" component was excellently done in keeping with the spirit of the piece and the yo-yo flamingo was a lot of fun, even if exceptionally brief and perhaps a little goofy next to the other segments. Despite the manipulative irony of Donald Duck's featuring role, I still ended up being moved by it and I thought the "Firebird Suite" was beautifully rendered, even if quite literal an interpretation. The interstitial segments were just a little pat and self-congratulatory; although they did at times provide some information, they weren't all that entertaining.
Like the visual narrative approach, the animation approach here is all contemporary Disney style and ranges from blunt abstraction to CGI whales to beautifully rendered still-hand drawn components, although the aid of technology in constructing many of the new segments is apparent and sometimes makes the art seem a little too clean. Sometimes, the CGI falters, like with the ballerina in The Steadfast Tin Soldier, and it also does seem just a touch soulless, which ends up making the hand-drawn sections seem quite nice. The pacing of the film, especially in keeping it significantly brief at seventy-four minutes is brisk and keeps the attention, but occasionally results in some pieces, like "The Carnival of Animals" feeling far too short. Also, some of the music selections, like Beethoven and Elgar, might have been a little too popular and recognizable, making it difficult to overcome preset conceptions about the music.
Still, despite the misses, I largely enjoyed this thoroughly modern take on the Fantasia idea and its modern visual narrative style and faster pacing should result in a more accessible viewing for modern audiences, especially children. In the glut of animation set to music that exists today, Fantasia 2000 doesn't quite hold the same degree of novelty that the original did, nor does it have the originals refined character and charm, but its energetic modern take does provide moments of fun and a way to appreciate classical music anew in the present day. 7/10.