Amblin Entertainment 35th Anniversary: Balto

Balto movie poster.jpg

Balto is a 1995 American live-action/animated Adventure film directed by Simon Wells, produced by Amblin Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is loosely based on a true story about the dog of the same name who helped save children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925 serum run to Nome. The live-action portions of the film were shot at Central Park in New York City. The film was the final animated feature produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation animation studio. Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Bonne Radford acted as executive producers on the film. Although the film’s theatrical run was overshadowed by the success of the competing Pixar film Toy Story, its subsequent strong sales on home video led to two direct-to-video sequels: Balto II: Wolf Quest (2002) and Balto III: Wings of Change (2004). This was the last film to be made from Amblimation. It was filmed in 1994.

This, as previously stated, was the final animated feature that Amblin Entertainment produced before Steven Spielberg teamed up with then departing Disney animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg to form DreamWorks and later its’ animation department.

And I gotta say, they went on a pretty good high note. I think what hurt this movie in the end was the fact that it was coming out a month after Toy Story changed the animation game forever but overall, this movie actually holds up WAY better than I think most people give it credit for.

The animation in this looks really damn good, probably the best of all three films that Amblimation worked on, the voice actors do a good job here, Kevin Bacon is great as Balto, Bob Hoskins is really good in this, Phil Collins is really good in this as is Bridget Fonda and Jim Cummings, the story is a little generic but it still works, the music is nicely done, you can never go wrong with James Horner, even the live-action bridges in the opening and the closing do a good job of bridging the story along nicely.

I really do think that Balto doesn’t get as much attention as it should because it’s actually a lot better than most people give it credit for. Unlike Fievel Goes West and We’re Back, this is the most concrete solid animation feature this studio has done and thankfully, a lot of the people here went over to the then new DreamWorks animation studio so they could only grow as filmmakers and you can say that Balto definitely was the reason why those people still have jobs there today.

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