Rating the Disney Canon Part 4 (of 5)

Sorry about the delay, I ended up working a few extra shifts and not having the time to get this finished.  Here is part four, which brings up into the top 10, which has at least one guaranteed surprise. Also, as promised, my list of Top 10 villains

Top 10 Disney Villains.

10: Madame Mim.  The Sword in the Stone  Was she a villain just thrown in because the film was lacking one? Maybe.  Is her wizards duel with Merlin maybe my favorite thing ever? A definite yes.

9: Shan Yu. Mulan This guy is a scary monster of a man.  He perfectly straddles the line between being a invading force of nature and being just a man.  He lacks a little in the personality department, but he makes up for it in menace.

8: Gaston. Beauty and the Beast.  He’s not really threatening, just sort of pathetic.  Like a fairy tale Zapp Brannigan.

7: Captain Hook.  Peter Pan He would be higher if I could be convinced that he is any sort of real threat to Peter Pan.  He isn’t, but he is very entertaining.

6: Hades.  Hercules  I have a problem with Hades generally being depicted as a villain, he’s no worse than most of the Greek Gods.  They were all awful.  But James Woods used car salesman of a villain is the best part of a good movie.

5: Ursula. The Little Mermaid  She puts on some great performances as the villain, and despite what my Mom says I was not scared of her as a child.

4: Jafar.  Aladdin The sheer contempt he shows for everyone else in the movie is enough to get him on the list.  The fact that he is actually an effective villain pushes him close to the top.

3: Scar. The Lion King Maybe the most successful Disney villain, and like Jafar one to hold the rest of the characters in contempt.  He preening showmanship in his song sets him apart too.

2: Cruella de Vil. 101 Dalmatians She is not only unspeakably cruel, she is also incredibly petty.  Her plan to make dogskin coats only fails because she feels she has to have her “friends” puppies to go with the other eighty or so she already has.

1: Maleficent. Sleeping Beauty She may not have the best help, but she towers over the rest of her movie with a presence that is hard to match.  Plus, even Jafar’s giant snake genie can’t match her dragon transformation.

Madame Mim is on this list just for the wizards duel.  Because I put her on there, I had to leave off at least on worthy villain, like Shere Khan.  But I did manage to stop myself from putting Clayton from Tarzan on there just because he is voiced by BRIAN BLESSED, so I am proud of my impartiality.  Now, on with the list.

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16: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves The one that started it all is still excellent.  I don’t really have much to say about Snow White.  Its historical significance makes it required viewing, but nothing about it is especially notable.  It is simply a very good, very old animated movie.

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15: Bambi.  This is easily among Disney’s best looking movies.  There is the awe inspiring rain scene as well as the fight between Bambi and another buck near the end.  Those scenes look completely different, but they both look great.  Then there is the whole traumatic shock of Bambi’s Mother being killed. The only reason it is as low as 15 on my list is that I prefer movies with a stronger plot, rather than Bambi’s  handful or loosely connected vignettes.

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14: The Lion King.  The big daddy of the Renaissance movies, but one I find to be a little overrated.  A little, I said.  The songs are among the best in the company’s history, and there are plenty of memorable characters. But the bridge between the adventures of young Simba and the revenge of adult Simba is a little weak.

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13: Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty has a couple of things going for it.  It has the best villain in the entire Disney Canon, (see top of this post) Maleficent.  She dominates the other characters in this movie.  I put Philip on my list of heroes just because he fights her.  Sleeping Beauty also has one of the best realized aesthetics of their output. The whole film looks like an animated version of medieval illuminated manuscripts.  It looks amazing.

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12: Hercules.  This one has a strong central trio, with Hercules, Megara and Hades all being great characters.  Much like Sleeping Beauty tried to capture a medieval look, Hercules looks something like old Grecian art.  It is not quite as effective, but it still looks good.  The only things keeping this out of the top 10 or even top 5 are some bad comedy relief characters in Pain and Panic and some dreadful joke lines from deVito’s Phil.

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11: Peter Pan Watching this again brought a couple of things to the fore.  First of all, the Indian scenes do not play anymore.  They are cringe inducing.  The second thing is that Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are awful.  Tink tries to straight-up murder Wendy, while Peter alternately shows off for Wendy and ignores her.  Wendy, though, is great.  She is both childish enough to really enjoy the idea of Neverland but mature enough to realize that somebody has got to be the grown up.  Of course, the ending, with her father relenting and allowing her to stay in the nursery, pretty much erases all the development she during the movie.  Plus, jerk that he may be, Peter Pan still engages in some delightful swashbuckling.

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10: Lady and the Tramp.  Disney’s best love story?  I’d say so, despite having another famous love story near the top of this list.  It also has some of the best animated animals this side of Bambi.  Also, maybe the best songs.  Even its standard issue racially insensitive scene isn’t anywhere near as bad as either Peter Pan’s or Dumbo’s.

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9: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  This is just delightful.  Though many Disney movies use a storybook aesthetic, none do more with it than Winnie the Pooh. It actually takes place in a story book, with a narrator that plays an integral part in the goings on. It also has probably the most genuinely charming cast of characters in any Disney movie.

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8: Atlantis: The Lost Empire.  Yep, Atlantis is in my top 10.  I stand by it.  Despite its rather dismal reputation, Atlantis is a fine film.  It is an altogether pleasing combination of Disney, Indiana Jones and Miyazaki-esque anime, though honestly not quite as good as that combination sounds.  Still, it is excellent.  Milo is a fun science-y hero and most of the supporting characters are a lot of fun.  This movie is just a blast.

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7: Tarzan.  This might be my innate love Edgar R. Burroughs, but I really enjoy this movie.  Tarzan, the character, is great.  This version of Jane is great.  I especially enjoy Tarzan’s gliding through the trees animation.  Plus, you’ve got Brian Blessed, ahem,  BRIAN BLESSED doing the voice of the villain.  It steals a lot of its jungle characters from the Jungle Book, but it gives it protagonist more to do.

Tomorrow, I hope, I will have the last entry with the top 6 Disney movies.  And nothing else, because my tank of Disney related thoughts is running low.  I do have a couple of supplemental posts about films distributed by Disney, with my lists of best Pixar movies and Miyazaki movies. The second one is only very loosely connected, but I watched a bunch of them after seeing the Wind Rises and this is as good a time as any to post it.

Links to the rest of the list:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

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