Anastasia Movie Review

Anastasia is an animated movie by 20th Century Fox back in 1997. This was when Disney still had a rival in 2D animation. I believe Anastasia is available on Netflix, but I have this on Bluray.

 

Character

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Anastasia “Anya” Nikolaevna is a daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. She survived the Russian Revolution and has amnesia, because why not.

 

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Dimitri is a con man that was also in the palace during the Russian Revolution. He is now a con man that is trying to get a price for her return from Anastasia’s grandmother. He and Vlad convinces Anya that she is royalty along with Vlad, his partner.

 

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Grigori Rasputin is the antagonist of film. His magic somehow sparked the Russian Revolution and fall of the Romanovs.

 

Story

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The story starts off with Rasputin casting a spell to spark the Russian Revolution, I think. During the revolution, most of the Romanovs die off, leaving Anastasia as the only survivor, along with a pendant that says to meet in Paris. Anastasia escapes the the revolution but somehow has Amnesia.

 

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Fast forward… like a decade. Dimitri is trying to find a girl to pose as the long lost princess Anastasia. Here he meets Anya, the real deal, and convinces her that she may be the real deal. Now the gang heads to Paris to meet Anastasia’s grandmother.

Oh, and Anastasia’s return to the old palace somehow brings Rasputin’s ghost to return from limbo. He thinks he is in purgatory because Anastasia is not dead, so he plots to kill her.

 

the Bad

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What was even the point of Rasputin as the villain? In the whole film, he did only two actual things of importance. He cause the crash at the train and the ending. Sure he possessed Anya in the ship, but that did literally nothing. His intervention slowed them down by couple of hours. And his appearance at the end seems like it was an after thought, the story ended then the writers were like, “oh shit, there was a villain in the story?!”. I mean…. I get it. This is a kid’s movie, it needs a supernatural villain. But I think the studio could have come up with a more interesting villain.

Just so you know, this is my only real problem with the movie, the rest is more or less nick pick.

 

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Some character designs really clash with the main characters. The biggest stand out was the lady at the orphanage (shown above). She looked so out of place, especially next to Anya who looks closer to an actual person. And the orphanage lady and Rasputin were only people like this. In FFIX, there is enough visual consistency among all characters, be it in details and style to where I can see Zidane (a handsome young man), Vivi (darkness with lights for eyes), and Queen Brahme (borderline Dragon Ball character) make sense to exist in the same universe. I am not saying characters should look the same, but they should look like they can exist in the same universe, or it will be like Super Smash Brothers where Snake from Metal Gear is punching Yoshi, a cartoon dinosaur.

 

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The movie does show some age. Some of the 3D effects just do not hold up, I think some of the 3D assets like the ship and vehicles noticeably low resolution and the frame rate really drops in the movie. The 2D animated scenes flows like silk, but when a 3D asset comes in everything staggers. The fact that the frame rate drop is noticeable is the real problem.

 

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Some facial animation is really awkward. One thing I learned from years of drawing is more detail that is added on the face, so fragile the line between good and “oh shit, I f*cked up” gets. Some of the faces in the movie were… pretty funny, and I don’t think they were meant to be. There is like one too many lines.

 

the Good

Most of the songs are not too shabby, but I have to give credit where credit is due, I am in love with the song “Once Upon a December.” This is the song when Anya first enters the old palace to get hint of her past. Although, I feel like the movie used its best song too early in the movie.

 

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One thing I immediately noticed was the background art, they are quite beautiful. They are filled with intricate details, but at the same time never take over the characters. They are gorgeous but they do not distract away from the story, which is opposite of 5cm Per Second.

 

Verdict

  • Will I see it again? Sure, not because this is a superb film, but because this does bring me back some memories of renting this at the local video rental place.
  • Do I recommend it? It’s okay. It is not great, but I don’t think there is anything so awful about it. For me, there is the nostalgia factor, but if you don’t have that…. well it is like a stereotypical Disney film.

 

Final Thoughts

Rewatching this movie after so many years was overall a great experience. I found a lot of things I didn’t notice before, but also seeing the art in this movie was pretty nice. Knowing more of actual history, and how complicated Russian history is, I am not commenting on that.

As you can see, apart from Rasputin, rest of my issues are small. But I can’t ignore how unnecessary Rasputin is as a villain. The whole point of the movie is Anya going to France to meet her grandmother, and Rasputin makes almost no impact on this, maybe he delayed this by an hour, I don’t think the heroes noticed he was there until the end of the film. Why not create a more compelling villain? Like maybe a person that just hates the Romanovs (like Rasputin) and is directly intervening with the heroes (unlike Rasputin). Or a rival con group that tries to out Anastasia Anya, kind of like Little Mermaid’s ending. I don’t know, just not this. If you took all of Rasputin’s parts out, the movie would still be the same.

Apart from that, this was a nice visit to the past.

Hope you liked it!

Gihoon

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