Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top 25 Disney Animated Films...UPDATED!



Now that I'm done reviewing them, I think it's high time I ranked these bad boys.  The Disney Animated Canon is among the most beloved feature length film chronologies of all time, giving us our first few entertainment areas as little kids, enriching our childhoods, and capturing us all in it's depth and wonder in our teenage, adult, and older ages.  We go from loving them for just existing as kids, to enjoying the artistry, the music, the characters and the stories as we grow up.

This is an updated list from the previous one I wrote about a year ago.  This list will have a few films jump up and a few jump down in terms of me liking them or not, and has also added the Oscar winning Big Hero 6 to the roster, which is indeed going to shake this list up a bit, maybe not too much though.  Without further ado, let us proceed with the films that did NOT make it into the Top 25 of 54 Disney Full Length Animated Films...

This is ALL opinion based.  If you have any misgivings or whatnot to add, feel free to comment up on this post and tell me your favorite Disney film.  Remember the beauty of film, everyone: NO FILM IS PERFECT, so all opinions are likely to vary.  

54. Home On the Range (2004)
53. Chicken Little (2005)
52. The Rescuers (1977)
51. Meet The Robinsons (2007)
50. Saludos Amigos (1942)
49. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
48. Brother Bear (2003)
47. Dinosaur (2000)
46. The Aristocats (1970)
45. Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
44. The Three Caballeros (1944)
43. Make Mine Music (1946)
42. Melody Time
41. The Sword in the Stone (1963)
40. Treasure Planet (2002)
39. Bolt (2008)
38. Oliver and Company (1988)
37. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
36. The Black Cauldron (1985)
35. Mulan (1998)
34. Fantasia 2000 (1999)
33. Robin Hood  (1973)
32. Hercules (1997)
31. Winnie the Pooh (2011)
30. Pocahontas (1995)
29. Lilo and Stitch (2002)
28. The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
27. Big Hero 6 (2014)
26. Wreck it Ralph (2012)

HERE COMES THE CREME DE LA CREME, the BEST OF THE BEST!  

25. Peter Pan (1953)


Peter Pan is a very polarizing film for me.  Considering the fact that it is arguably the film that Walt Disney despised the most for how watered down his vision of it had become, coupled with the fact that I really do think this film is criminally overrated, really didn't do this film much justice.  That being said, after re-watching the film recently, I seem to have become more attached to this film.  The music is still pretty memorable, I absolutely adore Captain Hook, and while I do take moral issue with the film's interpretation of Native Americans and Wendy's reasons for wanting to return to London, I do understand the reason as to why Peter Pan is considered a Disney Classic by many.  I'm just not one of them...

24. 101 Dalmatians (1961) 


After looking over my list again, I do find myself wanting to relocate certain films on this list.  Some I don't see that many reasons as to why, save for the fact that I overrated certain areas of film.  101 Dalmatians is one of those films.  When I wrote the blurb for this film, I pretty much outright stated that Cruella De Vil was the whole reason the film topped itself over such classics as Alice in Wonderland and The Fox and the Hound.  Nevertheless, while Cruella is indeed a marvelous villain, I don't think she was enough to save the film from tanking in the rankings.  That being said, 101 Dalmatians is what I would consider to be a Walt Disney Animated Classic.  It is funny, Cruella's song is incredibly catchy, and the drawing style is very unique coming off of something as gorgeous as Sleeping Beauty.  I still really like this film. but a few other classics stood out the second time around...

23. The Princess and the Frog (2009)


While some films like 101 Dalmatians and Peter Pan dropped quite a few slots on my list, some have gotten much more favorable responses from me and my crew working here.  One such film that got a sizable hike in terms of it's rankings is yet another underrated Disney Classic that will never receive the love it deserves: The Princess and the Frog.  Disney's long trumpeted return to 2D Animation was pretty much what I expected from a Disney film.  I knew Disney was a few years away from truly blowing me away, and I had to give them some time to build up some steam.  This film is just that.  It adds good Randy Newman songs, beautiful animation and great characters.  Most animated films released nowadays only hit in one of those categories.  If a film manages to reach me in this kind of a degree, where's the adoring fanbase for his movie?  PS, Charlotte is one of the Top 10 Disney Characters EVER!

22. Tangled (2010)


I had a hard time deciding which of these two films deserved the higher ranking.  While I do tend to lean more towards the 2D animated films personally, I decided the mega dollars Disney put into Tangled is just the thing the film needed to avoid slipping on the list.  While the cast is significantly smaller than the previous Disney Princess movie had been, I think the film did a pretty good job with their main characters.  Tangled provides us with some of the finest moments in the history of Disney Animation, and gives us yet another solid list of Alan Menken songs.  I do think Mother Gothel is a very weak lite version of Frollo, but the rest of the cast holds up really well.  And when I watched this film with my gal pal the other weekend, all she did was mock me when I caught a tear in my eye when the parents let up the light for Rapunzel's birthday.  If a film can make me cry, it's doing something right that;s for sure...

21. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

Taking one of the weakest animated films of all time and giving it a sequel is not a very bright idea.  But I guess the 30 people that liked The Rescuers (most of them being the training animators who worked on the film) got enough backing to get a sequel going.  THANK GOD THEY DID.  I mean it.  The Rescuers Down Under is one of the best animated sequels of all time, turning all the weak and uninspired things about the first film into a splendid animated marvel of high soaring adventure and captivating animation that made all the work done to improve the art form in the 1980's disgraced.  This film is a marvel in it's overall conception, even though the plot is a bit on the flimsy side.  Despite a few shortcomings in that department, the film is still pretty damn entertaining.  Go out and see this if you haven't.  It's a gem.

20. Tarzan (1999)


In what many consider the quintessential adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough's fantastic series (which all but the Burrough's family seemed to enjoy), Tarzan was the last dying breath of a dying era in Disney Animation.  Granted the constant listening to Phil Collins and Rosie O' Donnell is a bit agonizing, but I left the theater after seeing this film completely content with what I saw.  The animation is top notch, the story is pretty solid, and the characters (Terk being the exception to the rule), are entertaining and likable enough to carry the film into a conversation with the rest of the films of this era.  Action, romance, drama, and beauty, Tarzan is definitely one for the ages...

19. Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady and the Tramp will have the distinction of being the last of the Disney Classics that I ever saw as a kid.  This was one of the movies we didn't own until I became a hardcore collector of the Walt Disney Classics collection.  I wonder why I never owned it as a kid, considering my Mom and Dad were usually really sharp when it came to picking up Disney films.  This film may not be Walt Disney's finest work, but it most certainly should stand out ahead of some of the other films the studio has released.  I don't care if the film is cheesy and predictable.  It's a classic that I think deserves placement among the elite Disney films that have both preceded and will succeed this on the list.  It's one of those classic films I heard about all the time that I never appreciated until I was well into my teens.  Now, I watch it at least twice a year.

18. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)


There is never going to be a soul in the world that will say they hate Winnie the Pooh.  He is just an impossible character to hate.  He is well-meaning, but also prone to causing havoc in the Hundred Acre Wood.  I have never, nor will I ever stop watching Winnie the Pooh related shows and movies, which all started with watching The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when it first came to video when I was a little kid.  I am the Winnie the Pooh equivalent of a Bronie and I am DAMN proud to admit it.  This movie is almost so innocent and perfect that I considered bringing this film into the Top 10.  But I think the films that will follow this on the list are, with all due respect, more solidly crafted motion pictures that have little to no shame whatsoever.  Sorry Winnie, better luck next time.

17. The Great Mouse Detective (1986) 


This is the only animated film in the entire canon that can get away with having one character be pretty much the sole reason for it's impeccably high ranking on the list.  Without Professor Ratigan, this film is okay at best and would perhaps bring Disney Feature Animation to it's knees alongside The Black Cauldron.  The Great Mouse Detective gets the pass over 101 Dalmatians because literally every good moment and scene in this movie is either featuring Ratigan or is caused by Ratigan.  The film's incredible chemistry between hero and villain is some of the best the studio has ever come up with.  The animation was slowly becoming more like the animation from the 1950's, and because of THIS one little film, Disney Animation was running back up the treadmill of success...


16. Alice in Wonderland (1951) 


When Disney was at their finest, even the likes of Lewis Carroll's demented little book was not off the table for turning into the next big Disney Classic.  While Walt may have despised his watered down version of Alice in Wonderland, the film has become one of the most revered in recent memory, with good reason.  Not only is this one of the few retellings of the story that manages to capture the complete and utter madness of Alice's world, but the animation is still the best of it's time.  No one but Disney would dare to retell this story and no one has succeeded since this little classic first sprouted up in 1951.  Full of wonderful characters, splendid animation, and a captivating lead, Alice in Wonderland is an overlooked masterpiece that Disney should stop trying to kill.  Seriously, Tim Burton.  Stop...

15. The Fox and the Hound (1981) 


One of the most overlooked animated films of the last 40 years, The Fox and the Hound was the first Disney Animated movie in years that had an adult message attached to it.  This film deals with prejudice and social class systems in a way that no Disney Film before or since has challenged.  It proves that hate and prejudice are not born with people.  It is taught to them.  Even two kids with completely opposite views on life and futures can sit together or play together.  To kids, it doesn't matter if you're rich, poor, ugly, pretty, white or black.  If you play with them, friendship will brew, no matter the situation.  This is the first adult Disney Movie, and thanks to this film's cult appeal, it certainly wouldn't be the last...

14. Dumbo (1941) 


Who knew such emotion could be brewed in an animated film the average length of a modern day newscast?  Dumbo manages to accomplish in 63 minutes something that Twilight, Titanic, and The Notebook needed 2 or more hours or multiple movies to do: reach the audience on a deep emotional level.  It captivates us with the story of an infant elephant picked on for the size of his ears, who manages to turn a potential deformity into a sensation.  If a movie like Dumbo proves anything, it's that no matter what you look like or how the people look at you.  If you have talent and heart, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  If this can do that in half the amount of time it's taken some of the Best Picture award winners to do, this film deserves nothing but praise.  Complete and utter praise...

13. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

To put it in the simplest terms possible, Sleeping Beauty is one of those animated marvels you have to see to believe.  From it's unicorn tapestry laden architecture, it's sweepingly expansive setting and artistic design, and it's wickedly powerful finale of wonder and spectacle, the film is breathtaking in it's visuals.  That being said, it's leads are way too plain and bland to carry any other picture.  Aurora and Phillip should be thankful that Maleficent is their fantastic villainess and not Mother Gothel.  Maleficent, the Good Fairies, George Bruns's sweeping musical score, and the high caliber animation place Sleeping Beauty among the top dogs of the animation food chain.  No film can match this in terms of high caliber artistry!  Well...

12. Bambi (1942) 

I, like many critics of today, respect Bambi for not only it's beautiful naturalistic approach in animation, but also it's simplicity in emotion.  That being said, I would be lying if I didn't say I personally think that this film is The Lion King if the latter didn't have a plot.  While I hold Disney's 32nd addition to the canon higher than it's fifth, placing 12th in a list of 54 is nothing to be ashamed of.  In fact, considering how many films got the shaft in this countdown, leaving Bambi unmarred may be the nicest thing I've done on this list.  It's simplistic approach to storytelling is only matched in it's beautiful take on nature and the wildlife we surround ourselves with whenever we go camping.  While it isn't as big as The Lion King, I don't think the film had to be.  It is it's own marvel just sitting and watching it.  The original Circle of Life story is still one of the best the studio has ever made...

11. Cinderella (1950) 

Despite the extreme hate this film get's from feminists (which never really made sense to me) and film's rapidly aging themes and morals, I couldn't find it in my heart to displace one of Walt Disney's finest achievements in his long history of animation.  While far from being perfect, I still think Cinderella is one of those films we show to our kids to get them to start dreaming and believing in the first place.  If we can't get the kids to start dreaming and believing when their kids, what kind of future and lives can they expect?  The film has stunning animation, an enchanting titular character, and some of the best music the studio has ever come up with.  No matter this film's view by modernists, this film will always be an important milestone for not only the art form, but for the studio itself.  Kind of like another film...

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)


 Please note that without this film, there would be no successors on this list.  In retrospect, when I began retooling this list, I should have placed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the top, specifically for that reason.  No Snow White = No Rest of List.  This film is still emotionally powerful almost 80 years after Walt Disney first captivated audiences with it.  Snow White's innocence, coupled with the kooky quirkiness of the seven dwarfs, the still magnificent animation, and the magical music, makes for a truly magical film that brought about the creation of an entire new genre for us to enjoy.  Hence why no matter how out of date the movie becomes, I will always be forever indebted to a singular film.  And that film stars a fair little princess who was indeed the fairest one of all...

9. The Little Mermaid (1989)

Like Snow White, had The Little Mermaid failed to captivate audiences the way it did back in 1989, we would be looking at a world far different to the one we live in now.  Alan Menken and Howard Ashman should be forever engraved in our hearts for their spontaneously captivating songs and insight to the future of Disney's next line of Fairy Tales.  Couple that with great characters and beautiful animation, The Little Mermaid is just one of those films that will never leave your heart the minute it enters.  It is easily one of the finer accomplishments Disney has ever done on screen and will always be there to make me smile (It is my "feeling down" movie after all).

8. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)


In what many consider the darkest and most depraved of all of the films Disney has graced our existence with, The Hunchback of Notre Dame takes Victor Hugo's great tragedy and turns it into a semi-child friendly classic.  I say semi-child friendly because the film still manages to include, in no specific order:
Emotional and Physical Abuse
Attempted Genocide 
Intense Lust
Destruction of Paris due to a boner
Cruel and Malicious Taunting and Jeering

Nevertheless, Disney's take on an extremely dark story manages to captivate more and more people every single year since it's lackluster debut in 1996.  This may one day be in the same vein as the three best animated films of all time.  Only time will tell.  

7. The Jungle Book (1967)

You know that you love a film when your parents have to pay Blockbuster money because you've broken their videotape of The Jungle Book twice.  This film has been a part of my childhood since I was born and I will never let go of this spectacular motion picture.  The greatest cast of characters Disney has ever constructed is joined by a simple yet practical take on Rudyard Kipling's fantastic book of the jungle escapades of Mowgli.  Add in a chillingly strong performance from George Sanders as Shere Khan and one of the best bunches of songs Disney ever came out with, The Jungle Book certainly did prove to many doubters that not only could Disney Animation be good again without Walt, but it could thrive without it's leader as well...

6. Fantasia (1940)

What started out as an ambitious attempt to revive the career of a certain mouse who was losing popularity to a certain duck, eventually molded itself into the spectacle that is Fantasia.  No film can ever match the sheer wonder and delight a series of short cartoons animated to some of the most famous symphonies of all time could.  With memorable moments such as Mickey as The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Chernabog rising in The Night on Bald Mountain, or the entire opening with Toccata and Fugue in D Minor with little to no dialogue apart from the host, Fantasia is artistic brilliance in it's most simple form: just animation and music.  What more could you ask for in an animated film?

5. Pinocchio (1940)

Pinocchio built up on everything that Walt and his animators had achieved in Snow White and created the most technically perfect animated film ever.  With European artists like Alfred Hurter and Gustaff Tengren leading the way, the film brought about the perfect interpretation of an average Germanic-Italian village.  The majesty of the art was joined by incredible music, a solid story, and virtually flawless characters.  A movie that proved that wishing upon a star could one day make your dreams come true, Pinocchio is not only one of the quintessential animated films of Disney lore, but one of the greatest animated films of all time, even Miyazaki's works in Japan (which I think is insulting to put in the same category as Space Chimps and Cars 2).

4. Frozen (2013)

You can hate and trash this movie all you want.  You can call this film an abomination, an overrated piece of trash, a rip off of The Lion King, or just not that good of a movie.  You could even try and shove some more Elsa/ Jack Frost fan art at me.  It will never change my opinion of Frozen.  This film is an absolute joy from start to finish.  I have not felt a love for an animated movie like this since The Lion King and I doubt it will ever be duplicated.  Our leading ladies are still as captivating as when we first laid eyes on them, their stories and dreams are still relatable, and their personalities are perfect to boot.  The music is an absolute sensation, which I still listen to.  The animation IS the best since The Lion King.  There really hasn't been a Disney film like this to come out in my lifetime, and I feel honored to have watched this masterpiece.  It is and will remain well beyond this day, the most jaw dropping 3D animated film I've ever seen.  And for all you haters out there...LET IT GO!

3. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

I'm sorry, but how are their people out there who hate Beauty and the Beast?  What is there to hate?  Is this the same thing as Titanic, where it's become cool to hate something that is good?  I cannot see a single thing someone could hate about this movie.  Really, I can't.  The animation is amazing, the cast of characters is engaging, the music is the best the studio has ever come up with, and the romance is the most enchanting film could ever dish out.  The sheer fact that Belle could look inside a hideous monster and find the man of her dreams should alone make this a film all people should enjoy.  Beauty and the Beast deserves every singular sentence of praise it's gotten since 1991, and is still a vital cog in the history of Disney Feature Animation.  Simply enchanting...

2. Aladdin (1992)

Disney's retelling of the boy who finds a magic lamp and unleashes a genie was a mere .001% away from topping this list in terms of our calculations and voting.  Aladdin was THE first animated film I ever saw.  It is what made me fall in love with the medium.  It is what made me the man I am today.  It's molded me in so many ways that it actually hurts to put this film any lower than #1.  Nevertheless, a second place finish is nothing to be ashamed of.  And why should Aladdin moan?  With a Blu Ray release due in October, a sensational Broadway Show, and a continually passionate fanbase, this film will never be down on itself.  This film was great enough with just the music, the leads, the villain and the animation.  But when you add that dollop of Robin Williams on top, you get one of the greatest films ever made.

1. The Lion King (1994)

Unfortunately, when it comes to cultivating a Top List of any kind, there can only be one #1.  But if there is an animated film out there that could perhaps dislodge The Lion King with all due respect to Aladdin, I have yet to see it.  The Lion King gives us Disney at it's best, telling us a completely original story that teaches us strong and meaningful lessons about growing up and taking our place in the world, and that although the ones we love may not always be there to guide us, they will always be in our hearts, in our judgments, and our actions.  The fable about the struggles we must undergo in life is told from Simba's perspective, and we ourselves grow as an audience while following the young prince through his strife, ultimately to overcome his jealous uncle and save his subjects from destruction.  There is no animated film quite like The Lion King, and there never will be another one.

What is YOUR Top 25?  Or Top 10?  Or Top 5?  Or Top 54?  Leave  a comment below and be sure to subscribe to our channel on YouTube and Follow us here at SimbaKing94 Film Reviews.  

PS: The Big Hero 6 review is being delayed for a few days due to work related issues.  The review will be up within the next week.









3 comments:

  1. I definitely agree that the Lion King is the best animated Disney movie of all time! That is one of my very favorites too! Not to mention the music is fantastic!

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