I think that the original Fantasia is one of the great works of 20th Century art. Fantasia 2000, alas, is only so so.
But I can’t explain why.
Sure, there’s lots I could say that would justify my assessment, which is an intuitive one, as such things are. The colors didn’t work in X. The animation was sloppy in Y. Z was too long and had too little action. Things like that, and more sophisticated as well. But I’m not sure that such observations would ACTUALLY CONNECT with whatever’s not going on in Fantasia 2000 that WAS going on in the original Fantasia.
Here’s an extreme example of what’s not going on. I’ve argued that Fantasia had an encyclopedic range of themes and topics, “sampling the space” of life and the cosmos as we know them. Fantasia 2000 doesn’t do that. There’s nothing about microscopic life nor any solar-system wide imagery, as there was in the “Rite of Spring” episode. Nor is there anything with the contemplative grace of the “Ave Maria” episode.
But I don’t think THAT’s the problem. The problem’s with the individual episodes. In too many of them, something fails to click. What? Everything is technically superb. The film was made by superb craftsman, with ample resources (that is, time and $$$) to work their magic. But the magic doesn't astonish.
Except in Eric Goldberg’s visualization of “Rhapsody in Blue,” in which we see the intersecting lives of various New Yorkers. The visual style is quite unlike anything else Disney’s done. But surely it’s not that unlikeness that’s the magic, the difference-from. There’s something positive here that simply works, and works superbly.
And so we’re left with vague abstractions like spirit, or the lack there-of. The original Fantasia was infused with vital spirit in every second of film. Fantasia 2000, not so much.