Here are classical pieces of music set to animation from the Walt Disney studios, beginning with an abstract work which depicts the sun breaking through the clouds and shining onto the ocean below. Then a flock of triangles soars into view, avoiding the beams of light and the splashes of water until they are almost dispersed by the force of nature all around them. This is accompanied by the strains of Beethoven's Fifth, and so follow further cartoons in a continuation of the Fantasia project started back in the nineteen-forties...
Yet for some reason, Fantasia 2000 didn't capture the imagination of the public as its predecessor had done and made little impact on the consciousness at large. Although you could argue that the original took a long while to really earn its reputation as something other than the too highbrow for the masses, too lowbrow for the intelligensia work that it was initially considered to be (and still is in some quarters), and its embracing by the youth of the sixties went some way to making it seen as something worth the attention.
Whether that would happen to its sequel was a moot point, because perhaps the novelty had worn off by this point. Certainly the opening two segments, the abstract one and an insufferably cutesy effort with flying whales around the Arctic do not bode well for the rest of the film, but then it begins to settle with some truly excellent animation. Of course, you do have to put up with the comedy introductions to each segment, with the likes of Steve Martin, Bette Midler and James Earl Jones falling a little flat with some mediocre routines.
Not to worry, though as these bits are short and easily glossed over, so it's about the time of the Rhapsody in Blue that you're thinking this is all too precious for words when you realise actually, this is pretty good. That section is drawn in the style of cartoonist Al Hirschfeld and depicts some vintage characters all troubled by not living the lives they want - one is an aspiring drummer unsatisfied with life as a construction worker, another wants a job, then there's the clumsy little girl who is forced into various activities by her overbearing mother. When they all realise they'd rather be ice skating, it's there when the film comes together and becomes quite charming.
Mickey Mouse's Sorceror's Apprentice is the only part from the original to make a reappearance, which is always good to see even if it does seem to be included to fill up some time, and Donald Duck gets his own starring role in the Noah's Ark section set to Pomp and Curcumstance, which British viewers will be distracted by their memories of The Last Night of the Proms. This is a sentimental misstep, and the finale which shows a nature spirit being terrorised by a volcano is also pretty blah, but you are by this stage caught up in the idea, helped by some earlier examples of excellence such as the Steadfast Tin Soldier, a computer generated fairy tale. So if Fantasia 2000 will always be in the shadow of its predecessor, it does have some worthwhile moments.