It has been well over 10 years since most of us last visited the Hundred Acre Wood, even when we include the forays in Square-Enix’s Kingdom Hearts franchise. Whether you simply watched one of the numerous television shows, Disney’s early feature-length adaptations, or even read the original stories by A.A. Milne, one thing we can all say is that we’ve been there at least once. As animated family films continue to shift to 3D animation, Winnie the Pooh is a true return to form for Disney, which is still testing the market while trying to keep its legacy of 2D classics alive.
There’s no real way to summarize the basic story of this film. That is mostly due to its episodic form of storytelling. There are so many “little” stories interspersed throughout the film that are part of a larger, but simpler narrative, Pooh and his unending quest for honey.
The animation in this film is at the level of excellence that Disney is known for. It’s expressive and full of the whimsy we’ve come to expect from Winnie the Pooh throughout the years. Although there were some short cuts here and there, they are only noticeable to the trained eye and won’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.
The pacing and overall structure of this film will bring about numerous feelings of nostalgia in those who grew up with Winnie the Pooh as well as successfully introduce Pooh to children who are taking their first steps into the Hundred Acre Wood. The film follows the formula of the early films where the characters live, literally, within the pages of the original book. This features the same light-hearted fourth wall jokes and pays homage to its own legacy with many subtle references.
Although it’s an entirely different cast of voice actors, it shows that the studio took great care in finding characters who can match the voices of the past, the only exception being the voices for Pooh and Tigger, both voiced by veteran voice-actor Jim Cummings, who did voices for the two many times in the past in addition to other classic Disney characters. It’s a little weird at first hearing the new voices, but they grow on you.
The opening sequence of this film perfectly summarizes the film as a whole as it blends elements of the old and the new. This sequence is pretty much a condensed, shot-for-shot remake of the opening from the 1977 film, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, complete with opening narration and the famous song. This really shows the love that was put into this film and how excited the cast and crew behind it must have been.
Overall this is a very enjoyable film that is great for both the young and young at heart. The use of 2D animation and the subtle recreations of films past makes you feel as if you’ve visited a place that was important to you as a kid and find that nothing has changed in the slightest. This film gets a 5/5, the rebirth of a classic and proof that 2D isn’t gone yet.