BARTOK THE MAGNIFICENT
Most of Don Bluths films have been sequelised The Secret of N.I.M.H., An American Tail and in particular, The Land Before Time, which produced an incredible twelve sequels, and All Dogs Go to Heaven, which produced one sequel and then an animated tv series. In all cases, these were made by others after Bluth had sold copyright interest in the property. Bartok the Magnificent is the first time that Bluth has sequelised his own material. In this case, Bartok is a spin-off from Anastasia, continuing the adventures of the character of Bartok (who in that film was sidekick to the evil Rasputin and a far less heroic character than he is here).
While Anastasia was an animated version of the 1956 musical and loosely based on Russian history, Bartok the Magnificent is original material. In fact, it is much more of a fantasy film than Anastasia ever was. It winds in the interesting Russian folk legend of Baba Yaga even if it fails to do the character justice. The story is a routine variation on what John Clute calls the Plot Coupons fantasy wherein the hero must go on a quest to gather various items. As with much of Don Bluths material, the film is very schematic, ending in a reversal of expectation and a routinely spectacular dragon-transformation climax.
The production values and animation is a great deal cheaper than that which was lavished on Anastasia, with the result giving all indication of a video quickie the film is only 67 minutes long. On the plus side, the voicing of Hank Azaria and Kelsey Grammer, both returnees from Anastasia, with Grammer playing a different role this time, is immensely likeable. Azaria delivers Bartok as an appealingly craven Peter Lorre imitation, while Kelsey Grammer plays Zosie with marvellously theatrical pomposity.
Full film available online here:-