Plot: What’s it about?
Bartok, the little bat who warmed our hearts in Anastasia, is back! This time the little guy is working as a showman, doing magic tricks and performing for the crowds in the streets. He is a success, people love his act and give him more than a few coins for his efforts. His performances have even garnered the eye of young Price Ivan, a member of the royal family! Bartok will soon learn that he needs more than charm and quick hands to make it, when Prince Ivan is kidnapped. While he’s not the traditional hero, Bartok summons his courage, and sets off in a rescue mission. Along the way, he meets a couple new friends, sings some songs, and learns what it takes to be a true hero.
Bartok the Magnificent is the follow up to the highly successful Anastasia, although I wouldn’t call this a sequel. While Anastasia contained appeal for all ages, this installment is targeted at the younger audience. This movie was brought out in a direct to video fashion, so if you don’t remember it in the theaters, there’s a good reason for it. While some direct to video follow ups tend to fall flat, this one comes across very well. Bartok was my favorite part of Anastasia, and I was happy to see him get this own feature. The animation is good, but lacks the scope of Anastasia. But the movement is still fluid and crisp, and better than average. This high grade animation is due to the involvement of Don Bluth, who co-directed Anastasia as well as co-directing this movie. Bluth is a legend in the field of animation, and this film is a fine addition to his studio’s resume.
While some direct to video titles depend on low-tier talent to provide their acting, Bartok the Magnificent sports a very nice cast, including Bartok’s original voice actor, Hank Azaria. Azaria (Godzilla, Mystery Men) is a very talented voice actor, and he makes Bartok’s wisecracks come across well. I think Azaria will be a sought after name in voice over work for years to come. Tim Curry (Clue, Stephen King’s It) provides his raspy chords as well, giving a fine performance. Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone, Beetlejuice), Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky, Bound), and Kelsey Grammer (Animal Farm, Tv’s Frasier) also lend their voices to characters.
Video: How does it look?
Bartok the Magnificent is presented in the original full frame aspect ratio. This is a direct to video release, so the full frame ratio is correct. The colors are excellent, with bright tones lighting up the screen. While the colors are very vivid, they never bleed or become oversaturated. The contrast levels are also correct, but since shadows aren’t used much aside from spooky effect, the main benefit is sharp darker colors. Animation sometimes has problems with DVD’s compression issues, but this disc has no such ailments.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is very good, but the real active segments are during the “sing along” type songs, which sound excellent. You’ll notice some surround use, but usually with smaller impact audio elements. Dialogue is what counts here, and it comes through with flying colors.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The disc includes trailers for Anastasia and Bartok the Magnificent, as well as three “sing along” songs, and an interactive maze game. Not a bad selection for a kid’s movie.