Fantasia 2000 (1999)

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Released 29-Nov-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Introduction-Roy Disney
Featurette-"Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom"
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 71:30
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring James Levine
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Itzhak Perlman
Steve Martin
Quincy Jones
Bette Midler
James Earl Jones
Penn and Teller
Angela Lansbury
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Danish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Greek Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Hebrew
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Fantasia was originally conceived by Walt Disney as a constantly evolving musical fantasy. Each time you went to see it at the cinema, it would have incorporated new pieces and dropped out old pieces. Like many an idea from the man, it went by the wayside but was obviously not forgotten. No doubt with an eye to the end of the millennium, the idea was revived by the gurus at Disney and the result is Fantasia 2000. One cannot but help get the feeling from this effort that it may not be too long before we see the next instalment in the concept, not that I have any strong objections to such an event if the quality is as good as we have seen here. The concept here is pretty much identical to that of the original film, with the only substantive changes being the introductions to the pieces being not from one person, but a different person or persons for each piece. The execution of the concept however reflects the fact that there is sixty years between the two films and quality-wise this is an enormous improvement in execution.

   The film once again has no plot per se, and the collection of music that the animation is interpreting is:

   The sole holdover from the original Fantasia is of course its most famous piece, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which if my imagination is not playing tricks on me looks better here than it did in the original film. The use of that segment even extends to the retention of the short piece between Leopold Stokowski and Mickey Mouse that segues into a piece between James Levine and Mickey Mouse.

    The execution of sight and sound here is not as sublime as in the original film, for the simple reason that modern orchestras and conductors are just not in the same class as those of the 1940s and 1950s. Still, amongst American orchestras, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra still ranks as one of the very best. However, my opinions of James Levine, its conductor, are not printable in public. Suffice it to say that amongst the recent classical recordings to emerge from a certain record label of international renown, his are some of the worst interpretations of the respective pieces of music that I have ever heard.

    The executed animation in the film however certainly draws no complaints here at all. Indeed, some of this is utterly superb and two pieces in particular are quite amazing. Ottorino Respighi's famed The Pines Of Rome is accompanied by animation of whales and this is not only utterly different in interpretation for the music but brilliant animation in its own right. This could well be destined to be the standout segment from the film. The other segment is for Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite, the animation being an interpretation of the renewal of life. Wonderful animation indeed.

    Whilst I find it utterly presumptuous of Disney to emblazon the front cover with the word Classic, the film certainly has the potential to become one. A superb blending of sight and sound, although I would have thought that they could have come up with a bit more than just over an hour's entertainment after sixty years. After all, the original film managed not much short of two hours. Still, perhaps they are holding back stuff for say Fantasia 2010? I would not bet against it happening.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    There is no greater difference between the original film and this effort than in how the transfer looks. This displays just about everything that is right about modern digital technology. The transfer is pretty well razor sharp throughout and is detailed as could be. This is no sixty year old film and it really cannot be compared to the original Fantasia in any other way but as a film. The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced. The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment is presented within the widescreen aspect in a letterboxed 1.33:1 ratio, so that black bars appear at both sides of the picture.

    The opening few minutes of the film tell you everything about what this transfer is going to deliver. Beautifully sharp and detailed images, with plenty of clarity abound. This really is a visual delight to see, despite the rather disparate animation styles on offer here. Wonderfully clear throughout, there is no hint of grain or low level noise at all in the transfer. The only lapse in the whole thing is obviously the sixty year old The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment, but even this is hardly disgraced at all, and as I suggested earlier seems to look a lot better than in the original film.

    Matching the beautiful transfer are some gorgeous colours that really have a whole life to them that demonstrates Disney animation at its best. However, even the live action introduction segments are superbly coloured and have a stunning purity of tone. The whole transfer is blessed with a wide ranging vibrancy to it that is unlikely to disappoint anyone. Apart from the slight problems with the inherent oversaturation in The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of the film, there is no problem at at all with oversaturation nor colour bleed as far as I could see.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There was just the odd problem with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, mostly some minor aliasing - most notably during the Rhapsody In Blue segment, whose animation style tends to highlight such problems. There are no problems in the transfer with film artefacts.

    This is a single layer, single sided DVD so there is no layer change to be troubled with.

    There are only three subtitle options on the DVD with two of them being English and English for the Hearing Impaired. They are very good, although obviously they don't have a lot of dialogue to deal with.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Danish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a Greek Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I once again proved my cultural bias, as well as my lack of foreign language skills, by sticking with the English default soundtrack here.

    What little dialogue there is in the film has come up very well in the transfer, and presents no problems. There are no problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    Once again nothing needs to be said about the music score, which is comprised of some great classical music performed by a good orchestra. Potentially another classic film soundtrack from the Disney studios.

    There is nothing at all wrong with the soundtrack here at all. It is nice and open, has plenty of activity in the front surround channels and enough in the rear surround channels to keep them honest. It is not especially great out of the bass channel, but when called upon it was not found wanting. I really cannot recall anything at all wrong with the soundtrack, and I certainly made no notes about it, so nothing more need be said.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Considering the recent nature of the film and the loads of extras on the Region 1 version of the DVD, this has to be considered a monumental disappointment. No, actually, it should be considered a travesty.

Menu

    They look very good, but the lack of any enhancement apart from the 16x9 kind diminishes the effect somewhat.

Introduction - Roy Disney

    This plays automatically after the language selection when you fire up the DVD, and gets a repeat mention in the bonus materials menu. Sadly lacking any time information encoded, I am guessing that this is about four minutes long and provides a little detail of the background of the original film and its intent, as an introduction to the film itself. Hardly essential stuff but I welcome its inclusion if for no other reason than it provides a bit of filler to a grotesquely under-utilized DVD. The presentation is a letterboxed 1.33:1 aspect ratio in a 1.85:1 frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and 16x9 enhancement.

Featurette - Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom

    Annoyingly also without time information encoded, this runs approximately eleven minutes. The connection to the film is not especially apparent first up, but it is an apt inclusion. This did walk away with the 1953 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, so it is not entirely without artistic merit either. However, given the age of the short, I would have thought this a far more apt inclusion on the DVD for the original Fantasia. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and has Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Unfortunately it is very poorly mastered and just every movement in the film results in quite noticeable aliasing. There are a fair sprinkling of film artefacts too, and this really is a disappointment that detracts from the package.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Once again, it would appear that the Region 4 release is nothing like that provided in Region 1. The Region 4 release apparently misses out on:     Personally, I feel inclined to send this DVD back to Disney Australia demanding my money back, I am that outraged at the travesty of a DVD we have been given. There is not a cats chance in hell that I would recommend the Region 4 version to you unless you have an unmodified player - and even then I would urge you to boycott the DVD in protest of the shoddy treatment dished out to Region 4 consumers with this travesty of a release.

Summary

    Fantasia 2000 is a good update of the concept, given a wonderful presentation on DVD in all respects apart from the appalling lack of extras. I am not disputing the merits of the film, although another forty minutes of programming would not have gone astray, but the merits of the DVD itself are non-existent. Avoid buying the Region 4 release and go with the Region 1 release if it is at all possible. It does not help that they cannot spell Quincy Jones' name correctly either.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, December 10, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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