Animated. Voices of: Mel Gibson, Irene Bedard, Judy Kuhn, David Ogden Stiers, Russell Means, Christian Bale, Linda Hunt, Bill Connolly, Joe Baker, Michelle St. John, James Apaumut Fall. Written by Carl Binder, Susannah Grant, Philip LaZebnik. Directed by Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg. Rated G.

Disney stumbles. It was bound to happen sooner or later. "Pocahontas", the studio's 33rd full-length animated feature, is a step down from their recent string of cartoon blockbusters that started with 1989's "The Little Mermaid". I remember hearing a while back that when both "Pocahontas" and "The Lion King" were in production, "Pocahontas" was the premiere project of the two; everyone wanted to work on it instead of the other. Now I can only wonder why.

The story, which takes several liberties with history, is about a Native American woman named Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) who falls in love with a handsome Englishman named John Smith (Mel Gibson) who has journeyed to the new world to help an aristocrat (David Ogden Stiers) look for gold. As the two pursue their romance, the men who accompanied Smith and the men of Pocahontas' tribe clash as a prelude to war. Smith's life hangs in the balance as Pocahontas tries to avoid the impending bloodshed.

There's very little that's up to par about "Pocahontas". It's got the occasional well-made scene and the critters who offer up comic relief are quite entertaining. But on the whole, it's a bit of a disappointment. The soundtrack only has one song of note, and neither it nor the score has a lock on the Academy Awards that Disney usually sweeps. There's no real showcase scene as far as the animation goes and the film's villain is more aggravating than villainous. To top it all off the storyline is rather dull and a bit thin.

I keep hearing on the TV commercials for a fast food restaurant hawking "Pocahontas" toys that boys will want to pretend that they are John Smith. Somehow, in a summer filled with Caspar, Batman, and the Power Rangers, I just don't see this happening.

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