Fantasia 2000 is, as its title suggests, the 2000 sequel to Disney’s classic musical experience film, Fantasia. The original Fantasia was never intended to be a singular film, as its segments were meant to be replaced and rearranged during different runs. Audiences could see some new material as well as returning favorites, making Fantasia a different experience every time. Luckily, that plan fell through, so Fantasia was allowed to endure as a more definitive classic in the Disney canon.
This would, of course, eventually lead Disney to produce an all-out sequel instead. It would end up being delayed a bit, as Fantasia 2000 was released six decades after the original.
Fantasia 2000 continues the same setup as the original film, with various animated segments bringing classical pieces of music to life. Pines of Rome, for example, is expressed through flying whales in the arctic, while Rhapsody in Blue depicts the lives of various citizens of New York City as 1930s cartoons.
Most of the animated segments work just fine, and they are all lovingly animated. Though some lack the extra oomph of others, with The Carnival of Animals, Finale (which depicts a flamingo troubling his flock with a yo-yo) feeling lackluster with its brief running time and unfulfilling of its fun premise.
An overall downside to the movie is that it is nearly a full hour shorter than the original Fantasia, but it has just as many animated segments, and the live-action introductions in between feel longer than those in the 1940 original. By making this sequel shorter but including more filler, it makes the entire “Fantasia experience” feel diluted.
It also doesn’t help that this “filler” mainly consists of celebrity cameos, as opposed to the conductors introducing the segments like the original movie. Some of these introductions – like those of Steve Martin and Penn & Teller – are entertaining in their own right, but something about all the cameos makes it feel like Disney was just showing off their budget. It feels more commercial and less earnest than the original.
In keeping with the original vision of Fantasia, one of the segments from the first film returns. Naturally, Disney decided to reuse The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, as it stars Mickey Mouse. It’s a fun segment in both films, but given the movie’s already short running time, you kind of wish Disney had cooked up an additional new segment to squeeze in the film instead.
Donald Duck gets his own portion of the film with Pomp and Circumstance, in which he plays a role in the story of Noah’s Ark. It serves to compliment Mickey’s role in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and while not one of the more powerful Fantasia segments, it nonetheless adds some extra fun to the package.
Fantasia 2000 follows suit of the original film by saving its best segment for last. In this instance the final chapter is Firebird Suite, which displays gorgeous animation and fantastic imagery of nature, destruction and rebirth. Other segments of note are the aforementioned Rhapsody in Blue and Shostakovich’s Piano Concert No. 2, which retells the story of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Steadfast Toy Soldier.
Overall, Fantasia 2000 is a solidly entertaining addition to the Disney canon that should delight most audiences, no matter their age. But it does suffer from being in the shadow of its predecessor. Fantasia 2000’s segments are less consistent than those of the original, and its short running time leaves a lot to be desired. It’s fun, but Fantasia 2000 falls short on being the same level of experience as its predecessor.