Starring: Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson, Christian Bale
Director: Mike Gabriel, Eric Goldberg
Running Time: 81 mins
Pocahontas is an American film about the story of a Native American woman and her relationship with an English settler in the early years of the colonisation of America.
Just like always with Disney, Pocahontas is a fantastically pleasant, vibrant and enjoyable watch from start to finish, following the Disney formula closely throughout, but still establishes a strong, independent atmosphere that makes it more memorable. Its story may often leave a little to be desired, and it by no means stands up to some of Disney’s most crowd-pleasing or emotionally enthralling watches, but it’s still a fun watch nonetheless.
First off, the best part of this film is undoubtedly its setting. It’s interesting to see Disney taking on a true story, even though the story here has relatively little bearing to the reality, but what really works well is how vibrant and strong the film’s atmosphere is throughout. The Native American setting contrasts the English settlers excellently from the start, allowing for the arising conflict to be clearer throughout, and also emphasise the indigenous Native American culture.
In that, the film is one of Disney’s most visually impressive animations, with a thrilling colour palette that emphasises a lot of darker and deeper blues over Disney’s typically bright and cheery fare, something that really helps to cement this film as something a little bit more dramatic and serious, which was very interesting to see.
But don’t think that the film is an overly serious historical drama, because there are still all the hallmarks of children’s Disney to make you smile. Although I won’t say that the film really succeeds in making you laugh at any point, some of the cute animal sidekicks, the cheesy romance and a couple of the songs all go towards making the film a plesant and enjoyable watch as well, meaning it’s just as suitable for young kids as any other Disney movie.
Unfortunately, Pocahontas still isn’t a true great of Disney though. While it is enjoyable, and is hugely impressive on a visual scale, it lacks some of the real punch that the best Disney movies have managed to bring while still keeping close to the formula.
Yes, the story is very predictable here, and is at times further disappointing given that it doesn’t really follow the history of Pocahontas and John Smith, but numerous other Disney movies have managed to inject real emotional drama, from the likes of The Lion King to Mulan and more, something that always makes a family animation a truly brilliant film.
However, I really didn’t feel all that much from Pocahontas. Again, failing to deviate from that formulaic story is part of it, but there was something about the collection of characters on display, as well as the slightly more serious tone, that didn’t allow me to really become wrapped up in the story like some of the best Disney movies, which was a real disappointment.
On the whole, I did enjoy Pocahontas, with its unique setting and visual brilliance, along with some great use of the Disney formula to make you smile. However, it doesn’t stand out in the company’s repertoire as one of the best, and fails to really grab you in the most powerful way possible at any point, so that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.