Fox Family Films presents an animated alternative to current Disney, but as little an alternative as possible: a spunky feminist heroine (but why, at age eighteen, does she have no memory of herself at eight?); a callow ineffectual hero; a stentorian villain (Rasputin raised from the dead); cute animal sidekicks; forgettable songs; and an unsuitable subject (the end of the palmy days of Imperial Russia, the beginning of the gray days of Soviet Russia). There are a few lyrical effects of snowfall, and the rotting Rasputin has an amusing tendency to lose body parts, but the whole thing lacks an original purpose: a paint-by-numbers cartoon. With the voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Angela Lansbury; co-directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. 1997.

Duncan Shepherd

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