Monday, October 19, 2015


One of only two feature releases for the short-lived Fox Animation Studios, 1997's Anastasia has the feel of a Disney princess movie while mixing the look and design of a Don Bluth film. Beginning with the fall of the Russian Czar by the evil Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd) and the disappearance of the family's young daughter (voiced as a child by Kirsten Dunst), the story picks up a decade later with an older Anya (Meg Ryan) leaving the orphanage where she was raised to journey into the wilder world searching for a family she scarcely remembers.

Along the way our heroine will encounter a pair of con men (John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer) who attempt to take advantage of Anya's resemblance to the missing princess by training her to be Anastasia (not realizing she is indeed the genuine article). On the way to Paris to present Anya to the Dowager Empress in exile (Angela Lansbury) the group will also have to deal with the undead Rasputin out for vengeance and his cute sidekick Batrok (Hank Azaria).

Despite generally good reviews and a strong showing at the box office (making it the biggest monetary success of any of Bluth's films) the movie wasn't enough to put the studio on the map. Memorable for its strong characters, entertaining villains, and musical numbers ("Journey to the Past," "Once Upon a December," and "A Rumor in St. Petersburg") Anastasia has become more of a cult film than a classic but is certainly worth a look for fans of both Disney's princess movies and Don Bluth's work.

The Blu-ray includes the extras from the 2011 previous release including sing-a-longs, games, a straight-to-video sequel (of sorts) in Bartok the Magnificent, audio commentary by directors Don Bluth and Gary Oldman, a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes, trailers and TV spots, "How to Draw with Don Bluth," and a pair of music videos.

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