Fantasia 2000

on December 17, 1999 by Annlee Ellingson
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At a scant 75 minutes, "Fantasia 2000" fails to live up to more than its 60-year-old predecessor's two-hour running time. Modeled after the original's multi-part structure, the millennium edition opens with a piece from the Baroque period, or, in Disney speak, music that neither tells a story nor conjures up specific images. The brilliance of the original opener was that it began with images of violin bows bouncing on strings and built its motifs from there, emulating the experience of sitting in an orchestra audience and letting your mind wander. Here, Beethoven's Fifth is dishonored by random shapes, images and colors that don't flow from one scene to the next, setting a disappointing tone.
   Subsequent segments fare better--when they're not disrupted by unfunny, unnecessary celebrity intros--such as the beautifully rendered, surreal whales who dance to "Pines of Rome"; the Al Hirschfeld-inspired "Rhapsody in Blue"; the sprite "Carnival of the Animals" that answers the age-old question of "What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos"; a revisionist history of Noah's Ark starring Donald Duck to "Pomp and Circumstance"; and a "Bambi"/"Night on Bald Mountain" hybrid accompanied by "Firebird Suite."
   The "Steadfast Tin Soldier" tale set to a Shostakovich piano concerto is, unfortunately, "Toy Story 2's" ugly stepsister. And "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," the only piece salvaged from the original, looks grainy in comparison, but then it wouldn't be kosher to cut Mickey. Directed by Pixote Hunt, Hendel Butoy, Eric Goldberg, James Alger, Francis Glebas, Gaetan Brizzi and Paul Brizzi. Produced by Donald W. Ernst. A Buena Vista release. Animated. Rated G. Running time: 75 min
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