Sunday, 4 January 2015

Ranking Disney's animated features (part 1)

Having finally seen Big Hero 6 (a pox on the fact that Australia gets so many releases week (often enough, months) after the rest of the world), I'm taking my cue from the fantastic Nighthawknews blog to rank the 54 Disney animated features. This purely takes in to account those films with Walt Disney as the animation studio - the films (for example) made by Pixar (which will be a separate list at some stage) or Studio Ghibli aren't considered for this list.

#54 -Home on the Range (2004)

I'm likely not the target demographic, but that aside, I'm not sure that this film really has any redeeming quality. I found it mostly uninteresting, with largely selfish characters that I just wished harm upon. The only remotely interesting character was Rico, who's arc seemed a tad unfinished.

#53 - Hercules (1997)

This film doesn't really seem to know what it wants to be. But even with its internal confusion, it's still more interesting than Home on the Range.

#52  - Dinosaur (2000)
Visually quite stunning, but the story is somewhat lacking.

#51  - Pocahontas (1995)

Watching it knowing about all of the historical inaccuracies probably hampered my enjoyment of it, as did the somewhat overt racism of "Savages". A huge step down from the other films of the early 90s,

 #50 - Treasure Planet (2002)

There are some good aspects to it (particularly visually), but I feel it would work better if it lost the space/sci-fi element, and stayed more in line with the original novel.

#49 - Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Consistent with other films from the era, there are some great visuals on display. The premise (a civilisation in decline, unable to use/understand the relics of its former greatness) is actually an interesting one (save for the Last Samurai/Avatar aspect of the caucasian outsider reinvigorating the society against oppressors they've introduced), but it isn't really done justice in the disney format 

#48 - Make Mine Music (1946)

It may be the result of watching in parts on you tube, but many of the segments I couldn't get in to with the use of popular music really dating it; making me wonder how a similar "movie" would go made using animated film clips to songs I like (say "Do the Evolution" followed by "Down in a Hole" followed  by "Pyramid Song".... (I really should make a top five based on that concept...).

It is still worth watching for the Peter and the Wolf segment however.

#47 - The Three Caballeros (1944)

My strongest memory of this is of Donald trying to assault any woman he comes across. That, and finding it disconcerting hearing Sterling Holloway in a non-Winnie the Pooh themed role (this will be something of a recurring theme, though it works in Alice in Wonderland).

#46 -  Peter Pan (1953)

I probably rate this a lot lower than most others will. Not seeing it as a child means I've never really had any attachment to the story, and upon initial viewing, I couldn't stand Wendy, and really, Tinkerbell isn't much better (I guess I don't buy their fascination with, and pettiness over, Peter), leading me to hope that Captain Hook captured them all.

#45 - Oliver & Company (1988)

The whole thing just screams 80s! 80s! Better than the best picture winning Oliver! (1968), but towards the lower end of Disney's animated features. 

#44 -  Brother Bear (2003)

A nice, forgettable film. Probably not worthy of its Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination, but similarly not deserving of only 38% positive on Rotten Tomatoes.

#43 - The Fox and the Hound (1981)

I have large problems with the story/moral presented here… because the fox and hound have different responsibilities/different class of animal, they can't associate? Even with Tod rescuing Copper at the end, there's no real reconciliation there, just acceptance that they are natural enemies. Tweed might reconcile with Slade, but the resounding message seems to be "know your place".

#42 - Tarzan (1999)

Again, some really good visuals on display here, and interesting to watch back-to-back with The Jungle Book (which may have adversely impacted where I've ranked it).

#41 - The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

Somewhat overlooked (being released between The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast), this sequel is enjoyable enough continuation of Bernard's and Bianca's adventures (this time recognising that "Africa" isn't a country at the Rescue Aid Society), though it doesn't reach any great heights. On the plus side, it does come replete with passable Australian accents.

#40 - Bolt (2008)

While I may be ranking this relatively lowly, this is a fun film, with some outstanding visuals. My thinking probably aligns with the dichotomy  between Rotten Tomatoes (88% positive) and Metacritic (67), something pointed out by Erik at Nighthawknews, in that I liked it, rather than loved it. 

#39 - Melody Time (1948)

While I did enjoy this, the use of some popular music does date it somewhat (more so than the use of classical music in Fantasia). The "Bumble Boogie" and "Pecos Bill" segments are highlights for mine.

#38 - Chicken Little (2005)

I likely rate this higher than most (36% on Rotten Tomatoes): I feel that there is some good voice work on display, and the I do like the take on the father-son relationship. A big improvement on some of its immediate predecessors

#37 - Robin Hood (1973)

While I loved this as a child (to the point I was adamant my brother should have been named after Robin), revisiting years later (admittedly during a 13 hour flight), it just couldn't draw me in as it once did, and it's dropped a bunch as a result in how I'd rank it. Charming, but relatively lightweight


#36 - Saludos Amigos (1942)

Given its length, it's difficult to make too much of an impression. My strongest recollection is of Donald learning the Samba in Aquarela do Brasil, and the introduction of José Carioca.

#35 - The Black Cauldron (1985)

So much of this made me think of The Lord of the Rings, though not executed any where near as well. While it's fun, much of where I see potential is watered down to fit within the kid friendly target demographic

#34 - The Rescuers (1977)

The Bernard/Bianca dynamic is quite enjoyable, with some nice voice work characterisation on display from Eva Gabor and Bob Newhart. Bianca is one of the better female characters within the Disney canon before Belle.

#33 - The Aristocats (1970)

Back-to-back films featuring lead voice work from Eva Gabor! There is some good use of music in this (particularly "Everyone wants to be a cat"), but my strongest memory is feeling disconcerted hearing  Sterling Holloway as Roquefort, a sign that while I found it enjoyable, it didn't particularly stand out.

#32 - The Jungle Book (1967)

As with The Aristocats, hearing Sterling Holloway, particularly voicing a villainous character as he is here, seemed out of whack. There's some standout songs here ("Bare Necessities") to go with the classic story, which is enough to put it over similar era films like the Aristocats and Robin Hood, but not enough for me to elevate it to the upper echelon.

#31 - The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

It may be that I've been on a Sherlock Holmes kick recently, but this waas highly enjoyable. While it feels quite overlooked, not up there with the Disney renaissance films that would follow in the next few years, it was a sign that there was life in Disney animation in the 80s.

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