Monday, December 2, 2013

Best of Disney Animated Features (23-14)

23. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
This was the type of movie you never expected Disney to make, but they did a great job.  Disney has always excelled at creating believable fantasy worlds and this movie features several different worlds with distinctive styles.  The arcade, Fix It Felix, the terminal, Hero's Duty and Sugar Rush are all unique, but fit together perfectly in the same movie.  The character animation is clever as the characters all move in their respective video game styles.  The story is pleasant and the characters are touching.  Definitely unlike the usual Disney fare, which is not a bad thing.

22. Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
I have written about this movie on this blog extensively.  It is a package feature with two completely solid shorts.  Wind in the Willows features some of Disney's best character animation and a lot of wit.  Legend of Sleepy Hollow perfects atmosphere and has one of the best scary scenes ever.  I wrote about it more here.

21. Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
This is probably the most divisive Disney movie ever made.  It is not perfect, but there is much more good than bad.  It handles its mature themes very well and has some really three dimensional characters.  The music and score is just really grand and supports the scale of the film's visuals.  There is a grandeur to this movie that is really beautiful, the design of Notre Dame is absolutely stunning.  The movie's problems come from its attempts to force comic relief to make it a kid's movie.  It is a shame that Disney did not trust the great story and material they had, but even with its flaws it is a sight to see.

20. Winnie the Pooh (2011)
In an age of reboots, sequels and remakes it is rare to see a movie actually maintain a franchise's quality and improve on some aspects.  This movie is consistent with the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh but uses the characters a bit differently.  This movie seems very simple, but there is a lot of creativity and heart to it.  Its humor is sharp and the new songs are great.  Disney has not supported this movie at all, but you do need to look it up.  One of the most underrated movies in recent years.

19. Emperor's New Groove (2000)
After 13 years this remains one of my favorite buddy comedies.  The jokes hold up and never get old, in fact many of them age well and get funnier after repeated viewings.  This is a buddy comedy with energetic jokes that also features the usual great Disney backgrounds and animation.  This is a rare example of where using a celebrity's personality enhances the movie.  The personas of David Spade, Eartha Kitt, John Goodman and Patrick Warburton add so much to this movie; they were all perfectly cast.  This failed at the box office, but it quickly grew a well deserved audience.

18. Tangled (2010)
This was the first time Disney put their own stamp on a computer animated film.  They utilize lessons that they perfected in traditional animation and it makes this movie stand out.  The characters are much more expressive and feature more personality than the usual CG film.  Disney also took advantage of computer animation by exploring depth and its animation of Rapunzel's hair.  This is a fun movie with fun songs and characters.  The first Disney movie in a long time that the general public noticed and it deserved the attention.

17. One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
One of Disney's most pleasant features.  Long before computer animated movies thrived on volumes of similar characters such as Minions, Disney found a way to create 101 traditionally animated dalmatians.  The main dogs are cute and have a lot of personality.  The scene stealer is the villain Cruella de Vil, who remains one of the best known bad guys of all time.  While not a laugh out loud comedy, it is extremely clever with touches such as the Midnight Bark.  While Disney is great when they are making artistic leaps they are just as good in these little features that are just fun.

16. Princess and the Frog (2009)
Disney's return to traditional animation highlights what works about the art form.  The movie is full of fantastic backgrounds, colors and characters with individual personalities.  Bruce W. Smith's animation of Dr. Facilier and Eric Goldberg's Louis are the stand outs, but all of the characters are great.  Tiana is an admirable role model that has more of a character arc than most Disney princesses.  The story is clever and touching.  This was a fun throwback with surprisingly good songs from Randy Newman, I always enjoy this movie.

15. Dumbo (1941)
Disney took a break from its epic artistic endeavors to tell a smaller story and they created a really sweet children's movie.  This one always gets the heartstrings, the scene of Jumbo's trunk cradling her child is one of the most tender scenes ever animated.  It is cute, sad, fun and even a bit surreal.  This is one of the most iconic Disney features and it definitely holds up.

14. Tarzan (1999)
This seems like an unlikely source material for a Disney movie, but it works beautifully in animation.  The jungle background is gorgeous and Glen Keane's movement of Tarzan is impressive.  Having the king of the jungle tree surf and move like an ape adds so much to him.  The story of an adopted child torn between two worlds is really fascinating.  Phil Collins' non-diagetic songs make this movie feel unique instead of a traditional Broadway musical.  This was a big hit and is still the best adaptation of Tarzan.

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