Reviews: An American Tail
The Treasure of Manhattan Island— Awful? Or just mediocre?
In 1998, Universal decided An American Tail needed more sequels (which I can't argue with as long as they're good ones...), and so, two direct to video sequels were made, the first one being The Treasure of Manhattan Island. The movie didn't quite have the animation that the first two did, which is an Understatement. And not only that but this movie has become somewhat infamous (at least among the An American Tail fans who actually know it exists) because of some of the changes the writers decided to make to the established canon, including a complete Dis Continuity of Fievel Goes West. So, the movie is the third in the series, it's direct to video, it's back in New York for some reason, the animation is worse, and they messed with the story. That's a lot of strikes against it already. Should the casual An American Tail fan even give the movie a chance? My answer would be yes, if you can stomach the changes and look past it's faults, it's actually not quite as bad as it sounds. Not everyone will like it, it can't hold a candle to the first two movies, but it's not as terrible as say...The Secret Of NIMH II or Tom and Jerry: The Movie. It's worth a watch, but don't expect it to be as good as the first two. Say what you want about it, but this movie has a lot of guts for a kids movie, covering some serious topics rarely covered in an animated film. I think if you look past all its faults you may find the spirit of the first two movies in there somewhere. But to some, it might also feel like one big guilt trip, it's pretty Anvilicious. Anyway, if you're a big An American Tail fan, don't let the stigma of it retconning Fievel Goes West scare you away. Sure the animation's cheap and the songs range from fair to gut-wrenchingly annoying, and they cut out Bridget and tried to pair Tony off with their new character. But to give it the benefit of the doubt, I'd say the movie is at least an attempt at making something good, and it actually carries with it a deep message, not like a lot of the mindless 'potty-humor with a celebrity voice' movies they make for children today. In all, I'd give it a 5 out of 10. So Okay Its Average.
Aimed at kids, but a solid period peice.
As a kid, An American Tail was a fun story about mice, living about a century in the past. As an adult, and a student of history, I've come to appreciate AAT in a new light. The first film and the sequel (I haven't seen any of the direct to video movies) may be about animated, talking, rodents, but they do a very good job of capturing the experience of many people who emigrated to America in the 19th and early 20th century—and NOT the rosy, Hallmark-card version, either. Fievel and his family decide to emigrate to America after a brutal attack on their homeland, where they find that most of the promises about what America has to offer to new arrivals are empty. The second film follows on that theme: Fievel and his family are lured out West by the promise of open space and peace with the cats, but are instead tricked into forced labor. These two movies reminded me a lot of Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle, but with more of a focus on enduring familial bonds than gross-out details and a happier ending. Put aside the fact that this is animated and the main characters are mice, and you have a very honest look and the kind of life that many American immigrants lived. The two movies have some great voice acting cameos, to boot.
The Original,The Best
Year: 1986 Directed by:Don Bluth Grade: A Since some tropers took the time to review the sequel and Not sequel,it was about time a page came up for the original,and sadly like many cases,the only one that Don Bluth had a hand in (Although the first 3 LBT sequels were actually alright without those forgettable songs,and Fievel Goes West was actually comparable in its own right,but the rest like the All Dogs Go To heaven sequels and Secret of Nimh 2,.......... excuse me a moment *gags offscreen*).And it really shows. Firstly the Tail begins in Russia,with Fievel's (protagonist) village under attack by big, ugly rotoscoped Nightmare Fuel cats which results in the family being forced to move to America where the streets are made of cheese and there are no cats. They do so,but Fievel at this point being Too Dumb To Live gets himself washed overboard.This in turn sets up the rest of the adventure which true to the 'ol Don Bluth way,makes you depressedand downtrodden until the last second,as Fievel looks for his family while they all believe him dead except for his sister It's kind of dark,but luckily a few turn of events makes sure for a good adventure such as the hilarious Tony Toponi,or Digit *cough* Petrie *cough* the amusing cockroach who lighten the tone a bit.Unfortunately some of the attempts were a little misguided such as the Big Lipped Alligator moment in the sewers or that abominable vegetarian cat called Tiger.Luckily these quirks are minor. And also in good Don Bluth taste,the film gives us a good Affably Evil character known as Warren T. Rat who is really a cat scamming the mice with "protection" from his gang and actually uses this to scam Fievel into a sweatshop for a good Establishing Character Moment.Also the climax can double as Nightmare Fuel and Crowning Moment Of Awesome with the plan to drive away the cats But most important of all is the Crowning Ending of Heartwarming,which you actually had to work for (Which by that I mean be able to have your emotions toyed with) and that is something the sequels never really had,and why I give this a high grade aside from its top-notch voice acting and animation,which alone would land only an A-
Fievel Goes West
Fievel Goes West was easily the best of the sequels, with top-notch animation, fun characters and great voice acting. But it was not without its flaws. I like the movie, but there are a few things that make me prefer the first one. First off, the story seemed really rushed and short. It's kind of sad when they had five years to work on this movie and it still seems rushed. Secondly, the Lighter And Softer element, which in and of itself isn't bad but seemed to prevent it from being sad or emotional in places where it really should have been. Case in point: Fievel's family seems more concerned with where they'll be living than the fate of Fievel after falling off a train. And their lackluster "Oh, he's back." reaction when Fievel survived and returned to them. I can understand the makers of the movie not wanting to do the same exact thing they did in the first movie, but come on, they need to at least be worried. Then there's the Broken Aesop. Tanya and Fievel both learn that they're great just the way they are, while Tiger seems to learn that he needs to be something he's not in order to make Miss Kitty love him. It seems to tell audiences that if they are dumped by someone, it's their fault and they should change to better fit their mate's standards. And another thing that turned me off from this movie even back when I was a kid was that at a few points it seemed like they were making a subtle Take That at the first movie. This might just be me, but the scene where Tanya sings "Somewhere out There" and gets food thrown at her stuck me as the movie's way of saying "Pfft, that first movie with all it's emotional content and crap. That blows! Lighter And Softer = Better." But besides that, the movie isn't half bad as far as Bluth sequels go. There are flaws, but they don't necessarily make the movie unenjoyable. I liked the voice acting, the animation, the villain, Tanya's subplot, Tanya, and the songs. It was definitely better than the later sequels. But does it measure up to the original? Not quite, in my opinion. Ah hell, according to the third movie it was All Just A Dream anyway, right? But it's worth a watch anyway. I give it a 6.5 out of 10, though I'll admit I have a Nostalgia Filter.