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An American Tail The Treasure of Manhattan Island

An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island, titled in the film as An American Tail III: The Treasure of Manhattan Island was the first direct-to-video and third film in the An American Tail series made in 1998. This film was first released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment in the United Kingdom in November 16, 1998 and in the United States in February 15, 2000. Thomas Dekker took over the role of Fievel Mousekewitz from Phillip Glasser, the original actor, who was already 20 years old by then. Four actors from the original film (Dom DeLuise, Erica Yohn, Nehemiah Persoff, and Pat Musick) reprised their roles. One character, Bridget (Tony's girlfriend), is unable to be featured in this film due to her voice actress, Cathianne Blore, was battling cancer during the film's production. One actress, Elaine Bilstad, died of a heart problem the following year after voicing Cholena.

Plot

The story starts off in New York City setting sometime after the first movie, presumably between 1892 and 1896, Fievel and Tony discover that an ancient treasure lies underneath Manhattan when snooping around an abandoned subway (the Beach Pneumatic Transit system) and stumbling upon the remains of a dead mouse clutching a treasure map, deciding they must find it with the help of an archaeologist Tony knows: Dr. Dithering, along with fighting five villains as well.

The movie focuses on the relationship between the over-exploited workers of a sweatshop (in this case, a cheese production line) and the factory's rich owners: Mr. Grasping (Ron Perlman), Toplofty (Tony Jay) and O'Bloat (Richard Karron). It also focuses on the plight of the Native Americans in the United States. The treasure under Manhattan turns out to be a group of Lenape mice living a long distance beneath the surface (far below the sewers, riding in an underground pressurized train) that decided to hide when they saw how the first Europeans only brought war and disease with them and didn't want to wait for the European mice to do the same to them. An emotional scene ensues when Fievel must struggle with how cruel his own people the Europeans were (and still are at the time the film takes place) to the natives of America.

The sachem decides to send his cute and beautiful daughter, Cholena (Elaine Bilstad), to the surface to see if they have "changed their ways." Upon their return, Scuttlebutt (John Kassir) (one of the members of the expedition to find the treasure) reports to the villains unbeknownst to the rest of the members of the expedition, who then decide to use this to their advantage. They tell all the workers of the sweatshop about Cholena (obviously not by name) and that she is their enemy. The mouse NYPD Chief McBrusque (Sherman Howard) and Scuttlebutt engage in a bout of police brutality, burning down "every mouse house and rat hole" until they find her. After the angry mouse mob try to capture Cholena and anyone else involved with her, Fievel and his friends decide to take Cholena back underground, but the police find out and go after them. Meanwhile, everyone finds out about Dr. Dithering's friendship with the Indian and take him to the butcher shop for his punishment. Papa tells everyone about how madness like this is why they all left for America and should work together to become friends with those different from them as the fellow Americans they are. Tiger saves Dr. Dithering from the villains, who escape and order McBrusque and his men to find and murder the Native Americans. Upon returning Cholena to her home and telling the chief what is happening. McBrusque, Scuttlebutt, and the other police officers show up to the village until the Chief, the Native Americans, Fievel and his friends drive the villains away. The chief gives them a gunpowder bomb to collapse the tunnel connecting the Native Americans to the outside world. But before they can do so, they are ambushed by the enraged McBrusque and Scuttlebutt who attempt to kill the kids once and for all, but the two crooks are overpowered and Fievel manages to set of the bomb. This floods the tunnel, together with McBrusque and Scuttlebutt as they fall into the chasm to their deaths. Tony and Tanya managed to reach higher ground, but Fievel was carried off by the current. When the water recedes Tanya and Tony desperately search through the mud to find him, before giving up. But just then, Fievel breaks through the surface, and they all three share a muddy group hug, thankful that everyone survived.

The movie ends with Fievel's papa forming a worker's union and the villains agreeing amongst themselves to negotiate "with that riff-raff" because otherwise, they'll go on strike and make them go bankrupt while Tiger the cat, who is now the new police chief, watches them. The last scene is Fievel seeing, through a foldable telescope, Cholena and her father disappearing into a hidden door at the foot of a statue, which pleases Fievel. They were never seen nor even spoken of again.

Voice cast

Trivia

  • This is the first and only movie to feature mice as villains. The previous movies had depicted cats as the villains, and the main villain of the fourth film was a dog.
  • Scuttlebutt and Chief McBrusque are the only villains to die in the American Tail franchise.
  • This film is thematically similar to Pocahontas. Both films involve a European developing a friendship with a Native American and attempting to prevent violence between the two peoples.
  • This is the first and only film in the franchise Fievel has a love interest.
  • The movie was withheld for over a year due to complications with the film.
  • This film contains more mature themes than the other entries in the series, tackling issues of police corruption, workers rights, and racism.
    • Due to the regarded contents, it is banned from Freeform Network.
  • Neither of the characters mention about the concept that happened during this movie in the finale, assuming due to the creators decided to depart the third film's concepts from the fourth movie to avoid further controversy within the franchise by giving the fourth movie much safer plotline.

The retconning of Fievel Goes West

When late director Larry Latham began working on the infamous third installment, he believed it was a decision to have the second installment dismissed with a "dream" reference by upper management. He even wrote this on the movie's talk page on Wikipedia in December 1, 2009 (11 years after the making):

I (Larry Latham) directed and produced the two dvd sequels, and it was a decision of upper management to dismiss Feivel Goes West with the dream reference. The picture had not done as well as expected, and it was felt that it took the series in the wrong direction. There were hopes that these sequels would do well enough to continue on for some time, ala The Land Before Time sequels. Didn't happen, so people are free to construct any mythology they want about the actual order of the films.

Retconning the event from Fievel Goes West in the third movie became one of the most difficult experience in An American Tail history, as no further information about the movie was given out by the film makers ever since. However, things changed for the crew when started working on The Mystery of the Night Monster, removing film 3's concepts, characters, and locations completely from the final chapter.

Reception

The film was poorly received by audiences and currently has a 28% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes. A common criticism of the film relates to its direct-to-video animation quality. The film has proven to be divisive within the fandom. Many fans appreciate that most of the voice cast from the first film returned and that it was closer in tone to the original, and some praise it for including more mature themes than many DTV films of the time. However, Fievel Goes West was the better-received film with most audiences, and this movie's attempt to retcon that film into a dream angered some fans. Also, some fans take issue with Tony Toponi's concept derailment, involving his unrequited crush on Cholena in favor of his pairing with Bridget from the original film.

It one of the less well-received Don Bluth sequels, but was not as poorly received as The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue.

Songs

Social Issues

Unlike the previous films and the next film, this film has dealt with issues, involving racism and police brutality. Grace Montgomery of Common Sense Media felt like it was more "out of place for An American Tail", as one protester gets beaten senselessly by Chief McBrusque and his men, and the term "Injun" was used by the antagonist. Montgomery was also concerned about the Lenape mice were depicted as stereotypes of actual Native Americans. Common Sense Media suggested that "Your kids would be better off to stick with An American Tail and skip this one." [1]

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