Capt. John Smith leads a rag-tag band of English sailors & soldiers to the New World to plunder its riches for England (or, more precisely, for Governor Ratcliffe, who comes along for the ride). Meanwhile, in this "New World," Chief Powhatan has pledged his daughter, Pocahontas, to be married to the village's greatest warrior. Pocahontas, however, has other ideas. She has seen a vision of a spinning arrow, a vision she believes tells her change is coming. Her life does indeed change when the English ship lands near her village. Between Ratcliffe, who believes the "savages" are hiding the gold he expected to be plentiful, and Powhatan, who believes these pale newcomers will destroy their land, Smith and Pocahontas have a difficult time preventing all-out war, and saving their love for each other. Written by
Joe Sewell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This movie has some slight flaws, but it is magical.
This is by far the most under-rated Disney movie of all time. Sure it wasn't perfect, but it is MUCH better than a 5.6.
The story is absolutely engrossing. There are so many good and realistic things going on... a man learning about all the little things he has missed in life, an Indian princess striving for adventure and guidance amongst her steady and safe society, and a full-blown war between civilizations who both believe that the other is made of savages. I appreciate that this story is a realistic depiction of war, with two disagreeing sides, neither of which is necessarily right or wrong.
The animation in this movie is absolutely spectacular. And it is spectacular in the best way: with a basis in cinematography. The animation is not only spectacular because of the details in the backgrounds and the characters, but even more so because of how beautifully it is used. Scenes such as when Pocahontas and John meet in the mist are the kind of simple beauty that more movies need. When you hear the song "Listen With Your Heart", you can practically feel the breath of the surrounding forest. Fantastic stuff.
Another big high point is the music. Everyone's heard the show-stopping "Colors of the Wind", but the others are worthy of praise as well. "Steady as the Beating Drum", "Just Around the River Bend", "Savages", "Listen With Your Heart", "Mine, Mine, Mine", and the deleted "If I Never Knew You" ALL fit perfectly. Musically, this movie is on par with Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and just a tick behind "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King".
So if all these things are good, why only an 8? Two words... the ending. Everything leading up to it is so engrossing, and "Savages" builds up such an intense conflict drama, and everything is falling apart. This was the chance for Disney to turn this movie into a classic, and with what had to happen, they easily could have. But they completely failed. After "Savages", the scene that should have been the most intense and dramatic climax in their history ended almost instantly. It was too fast, there was almost no drama like their should have been, and the dialog was awful... captured none of the epic feel that it should have. Such a shame that such a great film was wrecked by such a horribly executed ending.
I also wasn't a fan of the constant distractions of the animal sidekicks, and of course there are the matters of historical accuracy and non-stereotypical depiction of the Indians, but as an avid animation fan I was willing to overlook these issues and give it a chance to be a good film in a non-contexted world. Some may be put off by this, but since when have animated films been historically accurate? So, honestly, those who are put off by things like "People in the dynasty when Mulan lived weren't praying to ancestors yet" should probably not expect to like this movie.
Out-of-context, I give it an 8/10 because everything up till the ending was completely magical, and had some of the best moments in all of Disney history, but the ending fell flat. I still want to watch it over and over again, because the rest of the movie really was fantastic. With a proper dramatic ending, I really do think that it could have been nominated for "Best Picture" like the Disney people thought it would. As is, it's a great entry into the animated classics canon. Definitely recommended even though it falls well short of the greatness achieved by the early 90's films.
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