I like Disney. I grew up with the company, and watched every one of their feature films. From canon to direct-to-video, I have seen it all. But the most important ones are the Animated Canon, 55 films that began with Snow White and ends with Zootopia (until Moana releases as film 56).
This is my personal rankings of the films. From the worst to the best. Be warned: you may be rustled.
25. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (Canon #41)
So back in 1994 there was a movie called Stargate. It was about an ancient circular portal that sent people to a different part of the galaxy where a similar civilization to ancient Egypt still existed. And the pharaohs were all aliens who use people’s bodies as suits and they rule with an iron fist. And they ruled Egypt too until they closed the gate.
What does any of this have to do with Atlantis? Well, someone really liked this movie and worked at Disney, because Atlantis is very similar. Set in the early 20th Century on an Earth where magical tech was a thing and steampunk currently is a thing, Milo Thatch is recruited by an eccentric millionaire who funds an expedition under the ocean to find the titular lost civilization. Traveling with him is a crew of colorful characters who don’t get nearly enough screen time to be interesting, and eventually they do find the city, which is in decline.
The good: this movie looks fantastic. The animation is stunning, the design of Atlantis, the road to Atlantis, and everything in between is spectacular. The character designs are also great, despite them being shallow characters in the end. Even the plot itself isn’t too bad.
The bad: time. This movie was only given 100 minutes to play out, which isn’t anywhere near enough. And it sucks to watch the movie reduce finding the city to a montage that lasted all of a couple minutes. Not to mention the scene that preceded it where they come face to face with the Leviathan. I honestly feel every problem I had with this movie could have been solved with just giving the film 20 additional minutes to flesh out the world.
So what was the point of the Stargate mention at the start of my thoughts? Watch Atlantis (it’s still pretty great), and then watch Stargate. You’ll see just how similar both films are.
24. Big Hero 6 (#54)
Hiro Yamada is something of a child prodigy, and he uses his talents at robotics to rip off street thugs for tons of cash. When his elder brother convinces him to go to a prestigious school instead, he does. Only to lose his brother in an accident, which leads Hiro (and his late brother’s friends and robot Baymax) to track down what appears to be a supervillain operating in their own city of San Fransokyo.
Big Hero 6 is visually amazing, combining the landscapes of San Fransisco with the aesthetics of Japanese culture. Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of the coolness of the film.
The plot is sadly weaker than most other Disney films, feeling very predictable from start to finish. About the only thing I didn’t foresee was the villain’s intention, but other than that I could blow-by-blow it start to finish. That’s not to say it was a bad execution; this is a super hero flick from Disney, but it still pales in comparison not only to other Disney outings, but also Pixar’s fantastic The Incredibles.
However, within its weak plot with good executions was some great stuff. The characters outside Hiro are all memorable, even if they don’t get a lot of time on screen compared to Hiro and Baymax. And really, it’s Baymax who steals the show in every scene he is. You just want to hug the white fluffy robot. Be sure to stick around until after the credits for the stinger!
23. Treasure Planet (#43)
It’s Treasure Island… IN SPACE!
Jim Hawkins becomes a crewman on a ship with a course set for Treasure Planet. On it he meets the ship’s cook John Silver, a colorful old sailor who knows a lot more than he lets on, and takes the young Jim under his wing.
I’ve read a lot about the shortcomings of this film, one of the biggest reasons cited for its less than stellar performance being poor marketing. Can’t say how true this was, but the fact I don’t remember a single commercial for this film I suppose means there’s some truth to that. But setting aside that nonsense, what do I think of the film?
I like it. That’s about it, really. It’s not fantastic, and its hurt a bit at the end through the inclusion of a robot named B.E.N voiced by Martin Short (who is simply unbearable in this role). I like (dare I say, even LOVE) the mix of 19th Century dress and B-list space age tech. The parts between Jim and Silver are great, as the two have a great dynamic and play well off each other. The entire film could have been about Jim and Silver swabbing the deck and talking and it would have been superb.
But sadly there is the adventure to contend with. There are the weaker side characters (such as most of the crew save for Captain Amelia), and there is the treasure itself. It makes sense why people say the treasure in a treasure hunt movie is the least important part of the movie. This film is great for the visuals and the animation, so watch it for those reasons.
22. Tarzan (#37)
A ship of good British folk somehow catches fire out in the middle of the ocean. The only survivors are a family of three, which make it to the coast of Africa (somewhere) and build themselves a killer tree house. However, they aren’t long for this world, as they’re picked off by a leopard named Sabor, leaving their infant son orphaned. Said son is adopted by a family of gorillas, named Tarzan, and we watch him grow up throughout the course of the movie.
I have few problems with Tarzan as a film, shockingly enough. I love the music by Phil Collins, I like how he becomes a real badass king of the jungle, I love how when Jane and crew are introduced he learns so much from them since it’s the first time he’s ever seen other people. Basically I find little fault with the film overall.
So why isn’t it higher up on the list? Because I love other movies a lot more. But it’s still pretty good. Except the Trashing the Camp sequence. That part is kinda… meh.
21. Tangled (#50)
In the kingdom of Corona, the queen fell ill one day. To save her life, she was given a potion from a golden flower, which then transferred its powers to her daughter Rapunzel. Unable to keep using the golden flower to maintain eternal youth, Mother Gothel then kidnaps the baby Rapunzel, since her hair is now the source of the golden flower’s magic. She keeps the child locked up for years, until Rapunzel sneaks out of her tower home/prison to go on an adventure with the thief Flynn Rider.
If I had to pick the weakest aspect of Tangled, it would be its music. And considering how important a part this is for a Disney Princess film, it’s a wonder I didn’t knock this one down several more places on my list. However, the one saving grace the whole soundtrack had was Mother Gothel’s reprise of her song “Mother Knows Best” about half way through the film.
Rapunzel herself isn’t too great a character. She’s cute, and her curiosity is nice, but she pales in comparison to the princesses that came before her. Flynn the male lead isn’t far behind, looking the part of a charming rogue without really doing anything else. Mother Gothel ends up being the best character on account of her careful planning; it wasn’t enough for her to drag Rapunzel back to the tower, she set up an elaborate ruse to trick her to come back of her own volition. Props to putting in effort where most other Disney villains do not.