Disney's 13-year-old box-office flop, "The Black Cauldron," has proved to be a top-selling videotape, along with "The Spirit of Mickey," a collection of old Mickey Mouse cartoons.
The Disney recycling machine continues with a reissue of "Lady and the Tramp" on Tuesday, in its original CinemaScope form, and "Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World," a straight-to-video sequel that is climbing the sell-through video charts.The "Pocahontas" sequel reunites much of the vocal cast from the 1995 original - Irene Bedard, Linda Hunt, Russell Means, David Ogden Stiers - while substituting Donal Gibson for his brother, Mel, in the role of John Smith. But the animation was farmed out to Canadian and Japanese artists, and the songs, originally the work of Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken, are by a different team, Larry Grossman and Marty Panzer.
There's nothing here to match the previous film's lyrical visuals or its hit song, "Colors of the Wind," although Grossman and Panzer's "Where Do I Go From Here?" is catchy and helps advance the narrative. "Pocahontas" had more reasons than most cartoons to spawn a sequel, partly because the Indian girl's story continued with her visit to England and her marriage to a colonist, John Rolfe (voice by "Titanic's" villain, Billy Zane).
Unfortunately, the filmmakers have chosen to fictionalize the material so thoroughly that Pocahontas' real fate (she died of smallpox in England) is sacrificed for a melodramatic by-the-numbers plot. The chief distinction of the film ends up being Zane, whose inimitable husky voice is used this time for a duet with Pocahontas, "Between Two Worlds."
- DISNEY HAS STOPPED making straight-to-video "Aladdin" sequels, but that hasn't discouraged Trimark Home Video from turning out "A Kid in Aladdin's Palace" ($15), a campy live-action variation on the Arabian Nights franchise. Taylor Negron plays the wisecracking genie this time, and Thomas Ian Griffith, who previously starred in "A Kid in King Arthur's Court," is the time-traveling hero.
Sony Wonder's "Enchanted Tales" series usually comes up with a Disney imitation around this time of year. But its major 1998 release is "A Tale of Egypt" ($10), a 48-minute cartoon about Moses that anticipates DreamWorks' year-end theatrical epic, "Prince of Egypt." Both films use animation to present the same story Cecil B. DeMille told 42 years ago in the four-hour-long live action "Ten Commandments."