Balto, the last of Spielberg’s Amblimation films, is not nearly as well known as that other classic 1995 cartoon Toy Story, but it is still a lesser classic that I fondly remember from my childhood. The characters are rather stereotypical (the misunderstood hero, the sympathetic girlfriend, the silly comic relief sidekick, the arrogant antagonist), yet most of them are both lovable and memorable, and the voice actors bring them to life. The best aspect of the movie is its placing these familiar archetypes within the real-life story of Nome’s 1925 diphtheria outbreak and the origin of the Iditarod sled race. The stakes are set high as Rosy’s health is shown declining, and, though anyone who knows the tale will find the ending predictable, the journey is nonetheless fun and exciting. The best scene is easily the avalanche/ice cave/stalactite part, which might have provided some inspiration for similar scenes in Ice Age. Its live action beginning and end also serve to make it unique.
That being said, the story is nowhere near historically accurate (Balto was a purebred Siberian Husky and only ran part of the distance to Nome); this makes Balto one of the multiple animated films that have indulged in revisionist history, such as Anastasia, The Road to El Dorado, and Pocahontas. Though the animation is better than previous Amblin productions, like An American Tail and The Land Before Time, it was not up to Disney’s standards at the time. Despite these flaws, including some very unrealistic elements (how on earth did that medicine not break?), Balto is an adventure that can be enjoyed by the whole family and certainly has been by mine.
Best line: (Boris the goose, after a harrowing escape) “Balto, I was so scared. I got people bumps.”
VC’s best line: (Boris again, with advice) “Let me tell you something, Balto. A dog cannot make this journey alone. But maybe a wolf can.”Artistry: 4 Characters/Actors: 6 Entertainment: 6 Visual Effects: 4 Originality: 4 Watchability: 5 TOTAL: 29 out of 60
Tomorrow: #331: WarGames
© 2014 S. G. Liput