Hey guys, Its Criticalcanine21. One of the biggest names in animation is Don Bluth. He is an animator who worked at Disney and later with Steven Spielburg and 20th Century Fox. He has made what many consider some of the best animated films like The Secret Of Nimh, An American Tale, and The Land Before Time. Later in his career, his films were liked a lot less but one of the most popular of his films is Anastasia. I will admit I watched this film a lot as a kid and I find a lot of people still love this film. It has become so popular that it is getting a musical soon. With all that said, does it hold up?
The film is about the royal Rominov family who are cursed by their former confidant Rasputin. His curse brings about communism and the apparent death of the family except the grandmother and Anastasia. (Ain’t history by animated film such fun) Years later, the girl named Anya Played by Meg Ryan has lost most of her memory with her only clue being a necklace saying together in Paris. Meanwhile 2 con men played by John Cusack and Kelsey Grammer plan on pulling of a con by finding a girl to pose as the former princess so they can get the reward money. They find Anya and find out she bears a striking resemblance to the russian princess. The 2 convince her to pose as Anastasia by telling her they believe she is the princess and they take her to Paris to meet the former Emperess who is heartbroken over so many trying to pose as her granddaughter. Meanwhile, Rasputin played by Christopher Lloyd and his bat sidekick played by Hank Azaria try to kill Anastasia.
Lets start with the good stuff. Don Bluth’s animation is always beautiful and this is no different. The color scheme is great, the cgi makes the palace look great, and the film feels big. The music is catchy with some nice tunes like Journey To The Past and In The Dark Of The Night. The story has been done a bit before in video games like Shadow The Hedgehog and Bayonetta but I think it could be a decent story. The problems are that the film feels like a Disney paint by numbers. Even with Bluth’s crazier stuff, you at least felt it was original and while its not as painful as Thumbelina it still feels like its trying so hard to be the next Beauty And The Beast or Little Mermaid. The villain is decently voice acted but looks and feels like a russian Jafar knock off. The bat sidekick sounds like a mix of that In Soviet Russia joke voice and Tommy Wiseau. Kelsey Grammer’s accent is really bad and not in a funny way. In some scenes, he can even be kinda hard to understand cause it sounds like he has a mouthful of peanut butter. The 2 romantic leads don’t have much chemistry and aren’t acted very well. The singing voices for them are good but it doesn’t sound like the actors. Jim Cummings does a stellar job doing the villain song and the others do great too but the romantic lead’s voices don’t sound like their speaking voices. I like that they got real singers for these parts, (I wish Beauty And The Beast did that for most of its roles) but it just sounds off when you compare how they talk and how they sing. Really, the script is the biggest problem. Its an awful script with so many predictable lines and moments like the obnoxious times Anya and Dimitri argue when you know they will get together at the end even though they know each other for 3 days, the by the numbers villain and comedy relief, the predictable plot you can see from a mile away, the large amount of plot holes like why does the villain not control someone to shoot Anastasia or have his demons throw her off a cliff, the liar revealed scene which is not as bad as other ones like it but its so dumb, and the fact that sometimes the lyrics to the songs seem weird. In the 1st song, they talk about the rumors that Anastasia is alive but say to keep it quiet but the cops glare at them. There are a couple other moments in the big princess I want song which seems like it fits better where it is in the musical than where it is in the movie. The musical honestly seems better than this by a mile. It has a more realistic villain, no bat comedy relief, you even have her get frightened by things like a truck honking which makes sense considering what happens. Its not perfect but it at least seems good. I get why people like it. They like Disney like films, there is nostalgia for it clearly, the music is good, and its not terrible. Its just a dull, predictable, paint by numbers film trying to be a Disney film which is so frustrating considering with Don Bluth working on it and this story which just needs a rewrite could have been great. I wouldn’t mind seeing a remake of it surprisingly if they can do it right. But until the musical comes out, we have this. If you like it, thats fine. I liked it too when I was younger but I don’t think it holds up well. By the way, the real Anastasia was killed with her family. (childhood ruined)