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Fantasia 2000

Rated G
Hosted by Steve Martin, Quincy Jones, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones and more

CineSight Rating ***

This new Disney film revives Walt Disney's vision - an ongoing series of animated musical interpretations. FANTASIA 2000 brings back the classic 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' sequence starring Mickey Mouse, along with seven new pieces.

Of the seven, four are noteworthy: the stirring 'Pines of Rome' is given a startling twist. A family of whales begin a graceful dance at sea amongst majestic icebergs. This leads to an entire ballet of whales, leaping from the water and taking to the air in flight. Good use of computer graphics add a memorable fluidity to the scene.

'The Carnival of the Animals' is a relatively short piece, and the accompanying animation is over before you know what hit you. The vignette involves a maverick among a flock of flamingos. This particular bird loves to yo-yo, despite the disapproval of the rest of the flock. No matter what the group tries, it can't spoil his fun. This is the first time that watercolor has been used in a feature animation, producing some brilliant results.

The respectability of 'Pomp and Circumstance' is shattered by Donald Duck as Noah's assistant. The Hapless hero is responsible for hearding animals on the Ark and then keeping them in some kind of order. As usual, Donald's chaos somehow turns out right in the end, even allowing for a little romance with Daisy Duck.

A climactic finale is provided by 'The Firebird Suite', reminding us of nature's resilience. The firebird, in the form of a volcanic eruption, lays waste to a breathtakingly beautiful valley. However, a sprite overcomes all this desolation by breathing life back into the countryside. Once again, the Disney artists use their now familiar methods of combining traditional cell animation with computer graphics to create an epic quality to the scene.

Sandwiched between all these bright, crisp, slickly produced numbers, Mickey's 'Apprentice' is showing its age. Even though the 1940 sequence has been digitally remastered, its faded, grainy quality and slower animation style are somewhat jarring. However, it is still a beloved classic nontheless.

In all of the sequences, the music is excellent. Provided by well-known conductors and instrumentalists, along with a top-notch orchestra, each piece tells its story or describes its scene perfectly.