C.C. : The Swan Princess
Nothing says beauty like a bird that can snap your finger off.
The Swan Princess (1995)
Directed By: Richard Rich
Starring: Michelle Nicastro, Howard McGillin, Jack Palance, John Cleese, Steven Wright, Sandy Duncan, Steve Vinovich, Dakin Mathews, Mark Harelik, Joel McKinnon Miller
"Uhhh, Odette? Your reflection is a little...ah, whatever."
We all know that Don Bluth, creator of The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail, was a Disney animator who left the company to make his own films. But have we all forgotten the OTHER ex-Disney animator who went on to make his own films? That's right, I'm talking about Richard Rich, a Mormon animator who was well-known at Disney for creating The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron.
Much like Bluth, Rich eventually left Disney to pursue his own career in animated films.His first film was 1995's The Swan Princess, which is considered to be Rich's magnum opus, seeing that he pratically made most of his career making movies about swans.
"Alright, who's next to be executed?"
Why on Earth would you want to make movies about SWANS? True, they're a symbol of beauty and grace...if you consider a bird hissing at you, biting your finger off oreven your own face to be graceful. Despite the idea of making a vicious animal with "grace", The Swan Princess is still an entertaining animated film with top-notch animation and some good songs sprinkled along.
"MY GOD, THE TRANSFORMATION BURNS MY EYES!"
"Ugh, I don't think this new crown will suit me."
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Loosely based on the Swan Lake story, Princess Odette (Nicastro) has been turned into a swan by the evil Rothbart (Palance). She's held captive at a enchanted lake with friends Jean-Bob the frog (Cleese), Speed the turtle (Wright), and Puffin the bird (Vinovich). It's up to Prince Derek (McGillin) to save Odette and defeat Rothbart from ruling over the kingdom.
WHAT'S BAD ABOUT IT?
In every Disney rip-off, they usually have a good balance of lame romantic relationships and goofy comedy. In this movie, the comedy actually outweighs the romance for the most part. I like comedy and all, but there's so much zaniness and a lot of zany characters in this movie, it's hard to take this movie seriously most of the time.
"At last, a daughter! With her at my side, I SHALL RULE THE WORLD!"
Nearly everyone has well-done animation, but the one character that should have the BEST animation is the main comedy relief, Jean-Bob the frog. The problem is is that it pales in comparision with the other characters. It feels flat and low-budgeted.
WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT IT?
Easily the best song in the film is the first one, "This Is My Idea". All the singing voices are nice to listen to, and the lyrics move the story and character development along pretty well, plus it's pretty catchy. The other songs are good, but aren't anything special.
"...Now go away, turtle, before I taunt you a second time!"
This film sort of breaks the cliche of love at first sight in a Disney cartoon. Usually in a Disney film, preferably the early ones like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, the romantic relationship is flat and don't develop a whole lot. In this one, the princess actually feels like that she can be more than just a pretty face and asks the prince what else he likes her for....and all the prince can say is:
"What else is there?"
If this review were a video review, I would totally add "wah-wah" music, complete with a sympathy shrug.
The villian of this movie, the evil Rothbart, is certainly an improvement from the villian of another Disney rip-off I reviewed, Quest For Camelot. Though his design isn't as great as Ruber's, he's more fun, considering that he's voiced by the great Jack Palance. The best thing about this villian is that he imitates the one-hand pushup that Palance did at the 1992 Academy Awards. Awesome!
The sole reason why Odette should marry Rothbart. Can Derek do that? HMMM?
"C'mon, Derek! Let's shove fire ants down Odette's throat! THAT'LL make her leave!"
The main reason why The Swan Princess works is that the film worked on Disney films, and he knows how the formula goes. Though the character personalities are pratically the same as any other Disney rip-off and it's too cartoony to be one, the animation is great, the story is pretty compelling, and it's romance plot is given more meat.
Up next: Get ready for some mediocre Jean Claude Van-Damme action...