Hey guys! Gerawallstar here, and I am here to review Walt Disneys 33rd animated film Pocahontas, which was released in 1995. This film was the film that caused the decline of not only 2D animation, or the Disney Renaissance, but Disney in general. The reasons being are because during the late 80s/early 90s, Disney was back into the animation realm with hits such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. They were all the biggest critical/financial hits that Disney has ever made, which made Disney enter into the Disney Renaissance starting with The Little Mermaid. Fun fact: Pocahontas was supposed to be the next big hit from Disney, while The Lion King was supposed to be their more experimental film. Ironically, things were opposite between those two films: The Lion King went on to become the highest grossing animated film of all time for nearly two decade until Toy Story 3 in 2010, while Pocahontas would become a critical/financial failure from Disney. Critics trashed the film, and the box office numbers were inferior towards The Lion Kings almost $1billion box office numbers. After seeing the movie, I can see why Pocahontas was a disappointment. Oh, and the Disney Renaissance films and their 2D films would go and dip in quantity and quality after this film, because none of the films after it were successful as the other disney renaissance films before this film, with the exception of Tarzan.
The story is based on the historical event from actual Pocahontas, where it follows a romantic story between Pocahontas and JOHN smith journeying into the new world with the settlers to begin their new lives. On top of that, Pocahontas’s father disapproves their relationship, and wants her to marry her own kind, while John and his kind search for gold. I will admire Disney for taking a brave turn by making a story based on actual historical events. Unfortunately, their version of Pocahontas was not very good at all. The biggest problem with the film that everybody hates is that the story is historically inaccurate, and that the romance is dull. Admittedly, they are right about the story being very inaccurate, and it not being faithful to the actual Pocahontas story. However, this is DISNEY’S Pocahontas, so its obvious that they aren’t going to go THAT darker territory with this film as much as dark as the actual story is. But like I said before, in my opinion, the problem with the story and the movie is that their version of Pocahontas was not told well. The reason being is because the plot is boring, there are so many childish antics between the animals side characters, and the romantic scenes between John Smith and Pocahontas are incredibly dull. Their romance is very weak. This version of Pocahontas feels like it came from, as Nostalgia Critic puts it “After School Specials” where the story is the same story told before and nothing new. As for the implementations of the comic relief animal characters, the movie doesn’t know if they want to tell a mature story, or have a family friendly feel with the characters, making the tone feel very inconsistent. If there are some things that I like about the story, then the things that I do like are the scenes with Grandmother Willow, and the message of Prejudice and acceptance, despite being preachy to death. The story feels very choppy with the inconsistency with its tone and some boring romantic scenes. I give the story five stars.
Despite some ridiculous flaws with the story, the animation on the other hand is phenomenal. The animation is a complete 180 over the so-so story. The visuals are gorgeous, and the colors look amazing. The animation has that realistic flavor to the film that makes it look like you are seeing the historical events. I loved the integration of the CGI elements in the film with the canoes, and the Grandma Willow tree, as well as the designs of the human characters like Pocket and her native American kind. It offers a lot of realism to the film. If theres one flaw I have with the animation, then the problem has to do with the design of Radcliffe and John Smith. As much as I love the realistic facial textures of the characters in the film, Radcliffe and John Smith’s facial designs look very odd to me. The animation is fantastic with the colors and the realistic background/CGI. I give the animation nine stars.
The characters are a mixed bag. They are not that memorable. Let’s start with the main lead Pocahontas. I do not like Pocahontas at all. She is my least favorite Disney Princess. I know I’m being too harsh on her character as there are some people that like her. I just want to say that as much as I loved her independence and playful attitude in the beginning of the film, she is very boring and kind of dull. John Smith is no better either. He is also a boring character. The comic relief animal characters such as Meeko, Flit and Percy are all the worst characters in the film. They don’t offer any laughs for me in the film, and the film tries way too hard to make them funny in scenes that are not supposed to be funny. Radcliffe is one of the worst Disney villains out there. Not only he is boring, but his sole motivation for getting gold is so stupid. The only character that I kind of liked in the film is Grandma Willow. I loved how grandmotherly she is to Pocahontas. She is a sweet tree, and honestly, she is the character that brings in a lot of laughs for me in the film. That’s not a good sign. Although it just hit me: it doesn;t make sense that the animals don’t talk but a tree can. The characters are dull and forgettable. I give the characters four stars.
The songs in this film are very good. Alan Menken did an outstanding job with the music. My favorite songs are “Just around the riverbend”, and “Colors of the wind.” Colors of the wind really shines the most because of its beautiful lyrics and stunning color animation. “The Virginia Company” is a good, and catchy beginning song that pumps you up for the movie. Fun fact about the song “If I never knew you”: that song was not included in the movie. It was later added on the 10th anniversary DVD in the Bonus Features. That song is very good. Mel Gibson and Judy Khun both did a terrific job singing that song. “Savages” is okay. The lyrics might be repetitive, but the song is catchy as fire. I like it. “Listen to your heart” is forgettable. The song that I wanted to like, but don’t is “Mine, Mine, Mine”. The song may have some catchy lyrics, but the song is terribly written because all it is about is Radcliffe singing about wanting gold. It is kind of cartoony when you think about it. The songs are great, and very well composed by once again, Alan Menken. I give the songs eight stars.
After being a disappointment after the juggernaut success of The Lion King, I can see why that is. I dont hate Pocahontas that much, because it has stunning animation, and great songs. However, it suffers greatly from lousy storytelling, and dull characters, making this film average. If you like Disney films, I would recommend this film, as there are some people that like this film. But for me, I would’ve just said no to this film, if I was given a choice to recommend this film to anyone. I give this film a six out of ten.