Rating the Disney Canon Part 2 (of 5)

Time for the second part of my take on the Disney Animated Canon.  But first I’d like to take a little detour and discuss my ten favorite Disney heroes. Just the fellows today, tomorrow I will have my list of heroines. So I’m going to list the characters, the movie they are from and a quick little bit about why I like them.

10: Milo Atlantis The Lost Empire  He is a different sort of hero, a man who gets by with his brains rather than brawn.  Plus, Michael J Fox voices him perfectly.

9: Prince Philip Sleeping Beauty I’ll be honest, he’s mostly on here for that fight with Dragon Maleficent.  That scene is great.

8: Basil The Great Mouse Detective Yes, he’s just Sherlock Holmes as a mouse, but Sherlock Holmes is awesome.

7: Wart The Sword in the Stone  He is mostly just learning at the feet of Merlin, but there is something completely endearing about his unending eagerness.

6: Tarzan Tarzan He wrestles a leopard.  Do I need to say more?

5: Robin Hood Robin Hood He is possibly the best take on this character to ever appear in a film, apologies to Errol Flynn and Cary Elwes.

4: Ralph Wreck it Ralph  His search for recognition and how to be a hero is one of the best arcs in a Disney film.

3: Hercules Hercules  He is the greatest hero ever created. Disney’s version is pretty great.

2: Simba The Lion King Cat Hamlet’s journey from a somewhat selfish kid to a worthy king is a good one.

1: Aladdin Aladdin He’s really just the best. He’s as dashing as Robin Hood, but with a better character arc.  He’s charming and easy to root for, but also flawed.  Just a great character.

This list skews heavily to established heroes that have a Disney version.  I guess Disney does better with villains than it does with heroes.  Actually, many of their character’s share the protagonist role and kind of get lost in the ensemble.  Some, like Beast, are good characters to watch but not really good people. He’s not the protagonist and he’s definitely not a hero.

On with the countdown. Continue reading

Rating the Disney Animated Canon, Part 1 (of 5)

So a couple of weeks ago, flush with time if not with sense, I got the bright idea to watch all of the Disney animated films.  The real ones, not including any of the crappy sequels that no one wanted or liked; I’m not stupid.  My plan was to rank them, with some thoughts on each one.  I figured that I could get a week’s worth of blog posts out of it.  First I checked my usual movie places:Netflix, my Mom’s DVD collection, my brother’s family’s DVDs (he’s got young children), my copy of Wreck-it-Ralph, to see what I had access to. It turns out that nearly the whole of the Disney Canon was right at my fingertips.

There were some films I couldn’t watch. The war films, the package films, whatever you want to call them I didn’t have them and didn’t know anyone who did.  So I decided to skip them.  Maybe I missed out on some of the best that Disney has to offer, but their reputation suggests that I didn’t.  Of course, as I found while watching these, sometimes the general consensus on these movies is just flat wrong.  So I didn’t watch Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time or The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.  I also haven’t yet seen Frozen. That should be rectified shortly.  I figure I’ll just slot it in where it goes, assuming its as good as everyone says.

Today, I will be starting with the bottom of this 46 (or 47 pending Frozen) film list, the bottom 10 Disney movies.  This will be the only entry that has movies that I consider outright bad on it.  For the most part these are all really good films.  Let’s begin.

46: Chicken Little.   I have difficulty expressing in words just how much I disliked this movie. It is bad in every conceivable way.  It looks terrible.  It’s not funny.  It isn’t entertaining at all.  I can’t think of one redeeming feature of this movie. It is wretched.  I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with less appealing characters.  They are all ugly as sin.  I’m done talking about this movie.  I hate it.

45: Home on the Range.  This is a movie I probably should have watched again, as I last saw it in the theater as a “reward” for doing well on my end of year tests in High School.  But there is nothing in my memory that suggests that this movie is worth revisiting.  It is just kind of a mess.  Like Chicken Little, it is another failed comedy that is just not funny.  I don’t remember it being anywhere near as ugly as Chicken Little, though.

44: The Rescuers.  This is the first entry that is I’ve got significantly different that most.  I don’t like the Rescuers.  It is just unbearably dull.   The mouse heroes are vaguely interesting, but not enough to prop up the rest of the film.  The little kidnapped girl is a void. The villain is a bad retread of Cruella de Vil. Also, there aren’t any worthwhile songs.  It is just a slog of a film.

43: Dinosaur.  This is a movie made to show off their new 3D technology, but thirteen years later it doesn’t hold up.  Too bad they didn’t put much of a story in there to back up the visuals.  Other than some unnecessary and unfunny lemurs, there is nothing really bad about the plot and characters, its just bog standard stuff.  It is the same basic story as The Land Before Time, only not quite as good.

42: Pocahontas.  Apparently I’m not the only one that thinks this move is terrible.  Unlike the previous entries on the list, this is at least well animated.  But the story is wretched.  It is preachy, but still manages to work in some magical natives.  It has mostly forgettable songs, though the good ones are standouts, and some terrible comic relief characters.  This movie seems to exist as an attempt to smother the Renaissance in its crib.

41: Meet the Robinsons.  While not a good movie, Robinsons is a drastic step up from their previous 3D attempt (see the top of the list).  It looks fine, occasionally good, and there is glimmer of something fun in the story.  It is still quite messy at times, though.  It is heavily flawed, but often entertaining.

40:  Oliver and Company.  Were it not for the Billy Joel sung “Why should I worry?”, this would probably drop three or four spots on this list.  It is a compromised take on Oliver Twist starring animals.  Like the real Oliver Twist, the main character is mostly a spectator in his own story, only here the other characters can’t pick up the slack.  This does seem like a dry run for the ideas that made the Renaissance successful, but its not quite up there.

39: The Aristocats.  There are some mildly amusing bits her with Tom O’Malley the alley cat, but otherwise this is just a lesser version of 101 Dalmatians.  The songs are also quite catchy, but that still doesn’t distract from the fact that the villain’s plan is stupid and Disney already did this story better.

38: Cinderella.  I know this is one of the widely considered classics from Disney, I don’t care.  It is a turd.  Cinderella gets little to do in the movie, it is mostly about some intolerable animals and their sub-Looney Tunes (note: I have no problems with Looney Tunes, but what happens here is no where near that good, though it has a similar tone) quality hijinks.  Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo is a fine musical number, but the rest I didn’t care for.  This is the weakest of the films that Walt Disney himself worked on. Even for a Disney brand fairy tale, the story is regrettable pap.  Cinderella does little for herself and pins her hopes on the idea that the Prince will save her.  At least most of the other Disney Princess have something else going for them.

37: Brother Bear:  This is a much better film than Pocahontas, at least. Actually, there are quite a few things I liked about this movie. The most notable is the aspect and tone switch after Kenai turns into a bear.  It is a cool little switch.  But there just wasn’t enough going on to move this one up higher in the line.  Were it not for Home on the Range, this would have made a suitable send off for Disney’s traditionally animated features.

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow I should have the next ten ready to go, though I don’t think there are any great surprises in that part of the list.