The Disneyathon Part 15: Post Disney Renaissance

Link to Previous Part: The Disneyathon Part 14: The End of The Disney Renaissance

The Disney Renaissance is behind us and now Disney is in a weird place where animation is changing and everyone is over what made the last decade so good. So this era will probably be a mix of some great to forgettable to out right terrible films, but it should be interesting no matter what.

Lastly, I was alive when all of these movies were released so not in this part because it would have been a pointless exercise, but later on I’ll be able to share what it was like seeing some of these movies at the cinema.

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This again!

We’re nearing the end of the 20th century and in honour of that we get a movie that nobody except the people at Walt Disney Animated wanted.

Way back in Part 2 I mentioned my strong distaste for Fantasia so obviously I was not looking forward to watching this reimagined version of it. Just like in the original Fantasia the animation is synced with a live orchestra, like we’re at a concert. To my surprise this release is way shorter than the original Fantasia which I was absolutely thankful for as the concert moved at such a brisk pace.

Instead of a boring composer introducing each sequence now we have a different celebrity for each section making it more tolerable to sit through as the celebrities add a unique spin to each introduction. I would still prefer to skip the introductions altogether, but if they have to be there I prefer this approach.

But what about the sequences themselves? To my surprise there are some really good ones along with your typically average ones. While still mostly classical I did like that this new film was open to other genres of music, giving some sequences a unique feel. Rhapsody in Blue is a good example as it has the most unique art style out of all the shorts and it’s tuned with some catchy jazz music.

Let’s talk about animation as Disney dips it’s baby toes into 3D animation and boy does it not hold up! The one with the flying whales is probably the worst one out of the lot. (Besides that stupid one with the flamingos with the yo-yo.) This is to do with the 3D models of the whales looking quite bad, especially the grown-up whales. Not the worst of 1999, but not great either.

The 2D animation is where they excel as it still looks amazing. The best use of it is in the final short, The Firebird, which was amazing! I was mesmorised by the incredible design of the Firebird and it was a great finale to this film. There isn’t too much to add – there were two great ones, two bad ones and everything else was okay. I’m obviously excluding the short they brought over from the original Fantasia. I don’t understand why it was in here as it felt like I was watching a terrible clip show.

Fantasia 2000 as a whole was a much easier movie to sit through than the original. I’m still not a fan of the whole concept, but I’m not disappointed that they tried their hand at resurrecting this idea. I’m giving it a 5/10.

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Oh great.

Here it is, Disney’s first movie for the 21st century and IT SUCKS!

I hadn’t seen the movie before now, but I do remember being drawn in by the cool poster but for some reason never picking it up. I was quite surprised to learn that this is still one of the most forgotten Disney movies as nobody talks about it despite it being the fifth highest grossing movie of that year. Maybe one day Disney’s Dinosaur might spawn a cult following like The Black Cauldron or Song of the South has, but yeah count me out!

This is one of the most generically boring movies I have ever seen. It doesn’t take much thought to figure out the exact sequence of events before they happen. There is nothing to surprise you or give you a reason to care for these flat stereotypical characters. The Dinosaur (I refuse to call him by his real name!) is a saint! He’s Moses sent from heaven to guide these boring annoying dinosaurs to the promised land and read out the ten commandants on how to be perfect like him.

The Dinosaur’s relationship with the supposedly girl dinosaur uses all the clichés from a bad romantic comedy. The Dinosaur’s lemur monkey family were a waste of space and you can’t tell them apart, except that orange one which I could not stand! Jerkasaurus dinosaur had zero redeeming qualities, he was just a jerk because Disney have forgotten how to write three-dimensional characters. I guess the most interesting character was the other Jerkasaurus who finally saw The Dinosaur’s  good nature. Unfortunately he died before they had a chance to diverge from the generic plot formula. Oh no, we can’t let that happen!!

Enough about them, let’s talk about the animation. I don’t really want to talk about this because it’s quite horrendous but I’m going to anyway. Fantasia 2000 came out six months earlier and it didn’t look as bad as this. They try to use real life backgrounds and add some CGI dinosaurs on top of it and the result is not good. A close up of a dinosaur isn’t that bad during the day and when they are not doing too much. Unfortunately running or splashing doesn’t work well as it looks really choppy. It’s alot worse during dawn and dusk scenes as the sky and characters don’t blend well together. That’s also the part where the meteors come to destroy the dinosaurs. (Except for Jesus, Dinosaur and friends who all survive!) The explosions are so dreadfully bad that they belong in some action B-movie. The designs look pretty realistic, but it was a smart choice to make the characters a bit cartoonish as it makes them look less terrible. Again, the only problem with the realism is I can’t tell them apart!

Look, I may sound very harsh, but I do get the sense that the people who made this did try. The technology just wasn’t up to standard back then and the people at Disney wanted to play it safe. I looked into it and apparently the film was going to be alot darker and the meteor was going to kill the dinosaurs including Mr Perfect. Some of that remains in the final product with the opening, but it officially jumps off a cliff when one of those monkey lemurs starts talking and ruins everything!

I don’t think I have seen a movie this bad in the Disneyathon since The Black Cauldron and because of that it gets 3/10. Hopefully the next one is something good and this will just be like a bad dream.

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Oh Yes!

Well, we’re clearly into the Post Renaissance era now as we have Jack Skellington meets the family themes from Dinosaur meets A Goofy Movie and finally meets Looney Tunes because, why not!

The Emperor’s New Groove was a really fun movie, quite reminiscent of The Rescuers as it’s very different to the last couple of Disney movies released.  It’s a full on comedy and it’s even more absurd than Hercules. There are emotional moments but they are only brief which helps to maintain the over the top energy of the film.

This is definitely Disney’s most cartoonish movie yet as it heavily replies on slapstick and it’s exaggerated characters. It’s refreshing and I just went with it so I had an excellent time watching this movie. Kind of like in a good Looney Tunes short the jokes are well timed and the creative way it plays with your expectations is what makes the comedy work so well. The fast pace and how the jokes were delivered kept this movie going, leaving no dull moments.

This small cast is probably the best cast for a Disney movie thus far. Emperor Kuzco is easily the most outstanding main character I have seen in a Disney movie since Ariel. He’s way more self-indulgent than Jack as other people’s concerns are simply an annoyance to him. The main reason Kuzco is such a joy to watch is because of David Spade’s excellent performance and how well written his redemption arc is. Kuzco also plays really well off John Goodman’s character who is basically his complete opposite.

Yzma and Kronk aren’t as great as our main duo. They’re both fun characters, but the late Eartha Kitt is unfortunately overshadowed by Patrick Warburton’s scene stealing performance. Kronk is a very unique villain sidekick as he just soaks up all of the energy in every scene he’s in. This kind of makes his boss feel like a weaker character in comparison as Kronk feels like he was a product of a completely different and way better writing team.

The animation is still great, but a real downgrade compared to Tarzan. The jazzy score added more energy to this very brisk movie. The musical numbers are officially a thing of the past as we only get one Tom Jones song at the start and end of the film, which I guess is better than Phil Collins songs for the whole movie.

Despite it’s few faults The Emperor’s New Groove was a very entertaining movie and is the best so far in this Post Renaissance era. 8½ out of 10. I also recommend looking up Kingdom of the Sun which was the original concept for The Emperor’s New Groove. The short story is The Emperor’s New Groove would have been more like a Renaissance movie, but it was the late 90’s and Disney wanted to change direction and you know what happens next.

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Oooh Pretty!

Here it is, another completely different movie to three years ago. Imagine Indiana Jones crossing over with Disney. Sounds awesome right, but this is early 2000’s Disney remember so it’s probably not going to go too well.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is visually awesome so if I watched this with the mute button on I would probably have a great time. Unfortunately, like Dinosaur, the story is generic and the characters suck! There just isn’t much to say as the best part is the spectacle. The action scenes look really cool, the designs of the characters, the vehicles and Atlantis itself is amazing. The other praise I have is the animation is incredible. Near the end I don’t really have any clue what’s happening, but damn it is gorgeous to look at! I could drool to that!

Story time! The only time I was really into the story was when Stuart Little is explaining his fascination with Atlantis and how he knows where the mystery journal is. It’s a good introduction to our main character, but after that I probably would have fallen asleep if it wasn’t so gorgeous to look at. Milo isn’t that bad, it’s just everyone else. They introduce quite a diverse cast of people to help out on their expedition and none of them are terrible (except that mole dude!) but there just isn’t enough time to develop them so we never form a connection with any of them.

The relationships between Milo and the other characters are all quite rushed, especially with that Atlantean chick which particularly doesn’t work. It comes down to modern romantic comedy terms where you’ve got an average nerdy introverted guy crossing paths with a pinup calendar girl. Her character isn’t terrible, but do you want to know who is? Commander Evil For No Reason Guy is the worst villain since The Horned King! He’s a pretty boring dude until all of a sudden he’s a massive jackass who has no regard for human life. I was kind of looking forward to having no villain, but this guy is a mercenary pretending to be a military commander. His character change is jarring, but how did no one know he was evil? Especially the old guys that Milo praised. With such vast resources to build a highly advanced cool looking submarine no one did a background check on the person responsible for everyone’s safety!

Anyway I always appreciate the effort that goes into these movies. Like somebody actually created a whole made-up language for the Atlanteans which is crazy. It feels wasted though because the story isn’t very good. Excluding the dumb twist baddie, the big secret of how Atlantis functions is very confusing. A giant creature protects the passageway to the underwater city. We learn it’s a machine, proving the Atlanteans are highly advanced. Or at least they used to be, but living under water for thousands of years and never aging makes you forget all of the texts you ever wrote, how to navigate the on switch of your flying vehicle and any memory of building a giant robot underwater monster. To add onto that, they are also dying out, but why is that? Turns out Leonard Nimoy knew all along about these space masks that power their crystals allowing them to survive. The only reason Leonard Nimoy withholds this information is because the penalty is the masks are powered by royalty and the last time that happened it took his wife. So for thousands of years he chose to do nothing and let all his people die while never telling his daughter the truth despite her desperately trying to save her people. A secret well-kept indeed.

Let’s wrap this up. Atlantis is embarrassingly average and the only reason you would remember it is the visuals. Once again it’s another step in a different direction that didn’t quite pay off as it’s mostly serious which only makes the comedy a bit more painful to sit through. I don’t really see myself watching it again unless I want something stunning to look at. 4 or 5 out of 10.

My Official Disneyathon Ranking List

Link to Next Part: The Disneyathon Part 16: The Fall of 2D Animation

4 thoughts on “The Disneyathon Part 15: Post Disney Renaissance

  1. I’ve seen all of those movies. Like you, I wasn’t a fan of the original Fantasia and probably more so now after finding out about that centaur girl that was so freaking racist they removed her from additional versions. I don’t remember that much about Fantasia 2000 other than the animation looking good at the time.

    I haven’t seen Dinosaur in ages, but I’m sure that movie looks bad in hindsight. Pixar was better at 3D animation than Disney, so that’s fair.

    I like Emperor’s New Groove back then and it was pretty funny, but I wonder how I would feel about it now. Did you also know the main character is named after a city in Peru?

    Atlantis…Oh, boy. I thought the movie was okay back then, but I like it even less after finding out that it plagiarized the 90s anime series Nadia: Secret of Blue Water. Seriously, Disney? Although to be fair, Atlantis doesn’t ripoff Nadia as much as The Lion King did with Kimba. Here’s an article about that controversy from a blogger I follow: https://thereviewheap.home.blog/2020/01/29/nadia-the-secret-of-blue-water-fushigi-no-umi-no-nadia-nadia-vs-atlantis/

  2. I don’t think I knew that about The Emperor’s New Groove. Cheers.

    Plagiarism in a Disney film I have seen that pop up a few times in this series, but I don’t really mention it because I’m normally not that knowledgeable on the material been ripped off. If we’re talking about the similarities with the Dreamworks movies then I’ll be sure to point that out.

  3. No problem. The movie is implied to be in a precolonial South American environment (mainly Inca civilization) and the aesthetics while exaggerated are probably closer to Peru compared to other countries centuries ago.

    Yeah, that happened with Atlantis which is crazy. I know both Nadia and Atlantis were rooted in Verne’s 20,000 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but Atlantis had eerie similarities to that anime. I didn’t know if you knew about that. There certainly was dualing going on when Dreamworks was getting their foot in the door of Hollywood. It does annoy me when some Disney fans bash Dreamworks for copying their stuff (also, I’m not a Dreamworks fan), but make excuses for Disney outright stealing things. I can see why you wouldn’t mention it if you weren’t familiar with these controversies, but it’s still something to think about.

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