Friday, November 29, 2013

Best of Disney Animated Features (43-34)

43. Sword in the Stone (1963)
Much like, Robin Hood, it is well liked but not great.  Again, the criticism comes back to being dull.  Wart is not a good lead character and there are scenes that slow it down (namely the song To and Fro).  Watching this again I was struck by how incredibly segmented the movie was and also how angry Merlin would get seemingly out of nowhere.  But this is not without its strengths.  The squirrel scene is memorable for many, but the highlight is a colorful battle with the ridiculous Madame Mim.

42. Robin Hood (1973)
This was one of my favorites as a kid.  It does not completely hold up, but it does have some rousing adventure elements.  The big action set pieces are very good, especially the big robbery and prison break.  However, as many films from this period, it is dull.  The characters are not all interesting, the romance slows the movie down and the humor does not all work.  However many of the characters do work and it is one of the more memorable tellings of Robin Hood.

41. Three Caballeros (1945)
This does not work as a feature, but it is remembered fondly for good reason.  Donald's trip to Baia and the introduction of the Aracuan are really fun.  The titular song, animated vibrantly by Ward Kimball, is the most surreal and energetic animation in the studio's long history.  The movie still includes some forgettable shorts and live-action scenes that have aged it.  Unlike any other Disney feature, but it is not for everyone.

40. Oliver and Company (1988)
This is a pleasant little feature, but not one that is a must see.  There is strong character animation and some good action scenes but it does not do too much that hasn't been done before.  The character of the Dodger is really fun and his big number, Why Should I Worry?, is great.  Nothing all that bad other than there is not all that good.  Pretty mid-range Disney film.

39. Bolt (2008)
Many are curious what Chris Sanders' American Dog would have been like.  But as a final film this was the best Disney animated movie in years.  The pet on a journey home is a likable story and always makes for a good family film.  It is an incredibly likable feature, albeit not too memorable.  The best part of this movie was the exciting chase scene from the fictitious TV show.

38. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Like most Disney movies that attempt to capture an older audience they become uneven as they try to remain marketable.  There are definite flaws, the tonal shifts and some out of place comic relief.  However this is creatively designed, gorgeously drawn and features great character animation (particularly on the characters of Helga and Dr. Sweet).  This is a high adventure but is not as consistent as it should be.  Still this gets unfairly maligned and deserves its cult classic status.

37. Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
I may be the only person who really likes this movie and may rank it too high, but this is one of Disney's best package features.  Jiminy Cricket is a natural narrator and it is fun to see him in that likable role.  The first half, Bongo, is pretty standard but it still entertains.  The second half is Mickey and the Beanstalk, which is one of the best trio shorts of all time.  There is some good animation with the growth of the beanstalk, Goofy vs. the jello and the new character of Willie the Giant.  Personally I find Edgar Bergen's schtick hilarious, but it ages the movie a bit.  This is just fun, quality Disney animation featuring classic characters.  Would love to see them do something similar again.

36. Pocahontas (1995)
One of the best things I have ever written was this in depth review.  It is a good movie but has some persistent flaws holding it back.  Read the review for my analysis.

35. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Far below the Disney masterpieces it is usually grouped with.  It is pretty uninteresting and features many bland characters.  The highlights that help this hold up are Marc Davis' animation of Maleficent and the stunning stylized backgrounds.  The scene where Maleficent possesses Aurora into pricking her finger is also one of Disney's eeriest scenes.  But there is not much in the way of creativity, the humor does not work and it is full of things that work better in previous movies.  This still holds a place in many people's hearts, but Disney has done much better work.

34. Fox and the Hound (1981)
This is one of the more flawed Disney movies, but that never gets much negative attention because the parts that work really work and inspire a strong emotional connection.  The friendship with Todd and Copper is touching and their struggles carries some definite weight.  The main characters are likable and the side characters, namely Big Mama, are good too.  There are definite issues with the pacing, the animation is not all that extraordinary and there are several missed story opportunities.  However the song Best of Friends, the bear fight and other high points make this a classic to those who grew up with it.

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