So I have a fun series I am going to be doing over the next 5 few weeks. I have meticulously came up with my top 50 animated films. This isn’t the most impactful or the best made. It is just my favorite. For example, I know Pinocchio is a masterpiece and I do appreciate it. It’s just not a favorite of mine. So you will disagree with many of these but you can make your own list ;)!
Nevertheless, love to hear your feedback. It was very tough to do. I also am still working through anime so there may be some of your favorites I haven’t seen. Pretty much any movie on this 50 I would give an A too so I love them all even if it is 50th place.
I tried to keep this list in general order of my Disney Ranking but there may be a few things I’ve changed so don’t hold me to that.
50. Watership Down- dark, disturbing, violent and has a lot to say about political systems, social structures and how we rationalize away the dignity of others.
49. Ponyo- Gorgeous take on Little Mermaid by Studio Ghibli is weird, different and incredibly creative. A movie I could watch with the sound turned off and still love. It is also cute and Ghibli’s most child-friendly film outside of Totoro (which is coming later). You know me- I love anything to do with the ocean.
48. Lady and the Tramp– An underrated Disney gem. A sweet and simple story of the dogs from different sides of the track falling in love. I love the Norman Rockwell artistry and the jazz Peggy Lee soundtrack. And spaghetti is my favorite food so cant go wrong with that!
47. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit- Based on the characters from Nick Park’s animated shorts, we get a witty, sweet claymation story of crazy inventor Wallace and his wise dog Gromit as they try to rid the town of a mutant rabbit eating all their vegetables.
46. How to Train Your Dragon 2- A rare sequel that is better than the original. The flying sequences are gorgeous, real heart with the family drama and an epic quality that is tough to pull off in animated films. For kids that are too young for Lord of the Rings this is a great option.
45. Charlotte’s Web- EB White’s story of the plucky pig and his spider friend comes alive with songs from the Sherman Brothers and great voice casting including Debbie Reynolds and Paul Lynde.
44. Atlantis: The Lost Empire– I know I’m in the minority on this one but I love Atlantis. I love the diversity of the team and how hilarious they all are. I love the fight sequences and the steampunk look to everything. I think the culture and language they created is great.
43. Paranoman- An underrated movie that is legitimately scary yet sweet and full of good laughs. Made more for teenagers than little children (especially the humor) but not too grown up. It’s hard to believe it is stop motion it is so seamless. The message at the end is a unique take on bullying with the bullied girl becoming the bully and how they can talk her down.
42. Land Before Time- Beautifully animated tail of dinosaurs little one’s making it to the promised land of sorts. Sweet, sad with nice music.
41. Toy Story 2– I know woefully low for this movie but what can I say this is where it landed. Toy Story 2 is a great movie. With great humor, camaraderie and an interesting dilemma for Woody about how he wants to live his life.
It is no secret I am not the biggest Dreamworks fan. For me they’ve had two wonderful franchises, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda and one masterpiece Prince of Egypt but the rest I could do without (although I admit I haven’t seen the Madagascar movies except for Penguins which I liked). Anyway, I was working on a project and put on a movie as I worked and figured why not give Road to El Dorado a shot as it is on Netflix. I’d heard some good things and I love action adventure treasure hunting movies, so maybe it would be a forgotten gem?
I’ll just say it- Boy what a stinker…
It does look nice. I will grant it that but that’s really the only praise I have for it.It’s insulting, stupid, inappropriate for children, tonally off and full of unpleasant or underdeveloped characters. In other words, a mess.
But wait…I can hear you saying ‘didn’t you like Atlantis and isn’t that very similar?’.
No it’s not. Atlantis creates a whole new world with its own culture, people, even language, so nobody is insulted because the culture doesn’t exist (plus it’s inherently more creative and interesting to see something imagined than a cheap reproduction of a people and society). There is also a whole cast of characters in Atlantis I found extremely likable and engaging. Atlantis actually embraces diversity. This says white people are smarter and better then those silly natives. The action is well paced in Atlantis and aside from a skimpy swimsuit it is appropriate for kids. So no the two are not alike at all.
The Road to El Dorado is about 2 con artists named Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) who in 1519 stow away on Cortes’ boat and sneak to the ‘new world’ to find the City of Gold or El Dorado. Cortes is a semi-villain and a total snoozefest and from the beginning Tulio and Miguel are very smug and unlikable.
The boys find the lost city surprisingly quickly and of course they are immediately treated like Gods in an offensive caricature of native traditions and people. It’s worse, much worse, than Pocahontas. It’s one thing for Redman in Peter Pan to exist in 1953 but in 2000 to have the kind of at best culturally insensitive characters, story and behavior is really quite shocking. At least Atlantis had a certain reverence and awe at its imaginary culture. This was so bad.
We even get a quasi form of soccer that is embarrassing. I don’t know what they were thinking. The villain is completely underdeveloped and feels like it was copied off of the obnoxious priests in Prince of Egypt. He is overtaken by some kind of evil spirit and creates a rock monster out of the Gods. I guess it is some kind of heathen magic but it is not explained and doesn’t make much sense or add any kind of fear or suspense a good villain should. At least in Pocahontas I can remember Radcliffe’s name.
Just like in Pocahontas the movie acts like the natives are completely oblivious to the value of gold, which is absurd. They literally have scenes with tribeswomen dumping bowls and bowls of gold into the ocean. As if all Native and Central American tribes did not have commerce, trade and even their own currency. Kids are smart enough to know they weren’t dumping tons of gold into the ocean. They have made an occasional offering but this is totally over the top and the natives act like they are clueless of it having any value at all. Give me a break. Seriously the natives are probably more badly portrayed than in Peter Pan because at least that is an imaginary land and it is a 3 minute song and we move on. This is 75% of the movie one cliche and cringe inducing stereotype after another.
It is also extremely inappropriate for kids. I had issues with the skimpy suit in Atlantis but at least she was smart and kind of mythical. In this the boys gamble, lie, cheat, steal, and are generally bad examples.
But to make it worse it’s surprisingly vulgar for a childrens movie and the princess Chel wears practically nothing and there is a scene where it is strongly implied her and Tulio have sex. I was shocked.
The music by usually reliable Tim Rice and Elton John is largely forgettable and most of it is sung by Elton John kind of like Phil Collins in the Tarzan movies. Hans Zimmer takes a huge step down from Lion King with the mundane score.
Like I said it looks nice but I thought this was a real bomb. No wonder it did so poorly at the box office. I mean who was it made for? It’s too grown up for most little kids and too stupid and predictable for adults/teens. Someone was telling me on twitter the studio got involved kind of like Disney and Hunchback and made them change things around so they are in El Dorado longer. It feels that way. I smell a rat!
This is the era when Jeffrey Katzenberg was heavily involved with stories and the Dreamworks animation films and I don’t know what he was thinking? He usually has good taste but this is tawdry insulting junk.
I normally don’t review the stinkers but I think it being on Netflix a lot of people will turn it on and I hope this review can sway at least my friends away from it. I was really offended by it and I don’t get offended that easily. There is so much good animation on Netflix. Move on to the next option.
This is a reminder of why I don’t want to review the Dreamworks Canon. Yuck.
Best Side Characters- This list is just the Disney Canon so no Pixar or Tim Burton included!
18. Pain and Panic (Hercules)- very clever devilish side characters that change their shape and are literally all about pain and panic. Every scene they are in makes me laugh and they are probably my favorite villain sidekicks in Disney.
17. Jiminy Cricket (Pinocchio) the warmth that is desperately needed in Pinocchio. Jiminy is crucial to the story as the moral compass in a morality tale. He gets frustrated when Pinocchio won’t listen just as I’m sure God gets with us when we are stubborn.
16. Jock and Trusty(Lady and the Tramp)- Everything in Lady in the Tramp is oh so lovable including the sidekicks Jock and Trusty. The dialogue for them is very well written and when they decide to propose to Lady to make her feel better it is a sweet moment.
15.Mushu (Mulan)- I still think it is Eddie Murphy’s best voice performance. He is insecure and manic without being annoying. Gets a lot of good laughs and helps to narrate throughout the film. He starts out with selfish motives but the more he gets to know Mulan the more he grows to care for her and think less of himself.
14. Timothy Q Mouse (Dumbo) – I love Timothy. He sticks up for a total stranger, an elephant no less, and pleads with others to understand things that are different. It frustrates me Dumbo is discounted as racist by many when the heart of the movie is about embracing diversity.
13. Thumper (Bambi)- There are a lot of characters you could pick from Bambi but Thumper is probably my favorite. He is a smart alek who always gets in trouble and has to apologize. He introduces Bambi to a lot of new things and has a courage and general cheerfulness that is very appealing. In a movie which is pretty sad Thumper’s optimism and cheerfulness is desperately needed and appreciated.
12. 7 Dwarves (Snow White and 7 Dwarves)- The first Disney sidekicks that set the standard for not only all Disney but all animated movies. The Dwarves are easy to understand yet charming and when they are grieving it is remarkably touching for characters that should be one-note. Plus their singing is still one of my favorites. Love the harmonies!
11. Sebastian (Little Mermaid) – I want to put him higher because I love Little Mermaid so much but Sebastian isn’t that varied of a character. Most of the movie he is yelling after Ariel trying to get her to stop misbehaving. That said it is done with a lot of humor and flare. As the reggae crab who is also a symphony conductor he is kind of a strange mixture of personalities but that makes him so charming. When he sings Under the Sea it is one of the most joyous moments in all of Disney canon.
10. Atlantis Crew (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)- Yep, I know some of you will be outraged but I call it like I see it. I loved these guys! I thought they were hilarious and I loved the diversity and their unique personalities. Moliere is so funny as the mole man always wanting to dig and Audrey is a tom boy but still managing to be vulnerable.
Vinny is great as the cynical Italian who also likes to blow things up and I liked Joshua Sweet is a doctor and not much is made about his race. Helga is a seriously tough woman who beats the tar out of a couple people. I just love the combination of characters for a treasure hunting movie and I thought it totally worked for the type of story they were telling. This group kind of reminds me of a more diverse older version of the Goonies and I loved it. I know I’m in the minority on that but I don’t care! Hey it proves I’m not just spewing out what is popular but giving my own unique opinion.
9. Olaf (Frozen)- I love Olaf. He has such heart and is a sweet and sincere. He dreams of being in summer despite being a snowman. How more hopeful can a character be? His vocal performance by Josh Gad is perfect and his song is funny and sweet. They also use Olaf just enough so he stays charming and isn’t annoying. When he is willing to melt for his friend it makes me tear up every time.
8. Timon and Pumbaa (Lion King)- On the surface our 2 sidekicks from The Lion King are silly characters who sing about flatulence and being lazy but they serve an important part of the story by offering Simba an alternative philosophy on life. He can be carefree and happy or he can risk being miserable but actually do something with his life. The choice is actually a tough one. They are also loyal and very funny (and the only characters aside from Jeremy Irons that actually sing their songs in Lion King!).
7. Gus Gus and Jaq (Cinderella)- a lot of people find the mice in Cinderella annoying but I love them. They are loyal and have such a sweet desire to help their friend. They risk serious peril to get her dress made and when it is all destroyed it is one of the most devastating moments in all of Disney both for Cinderella but also for the mice who worked so hard to make it happen.
6. The 3 Faeries- Flora, Fauna and Merrywether (Sleeping Beauty). Watching the disastrous Maleficent made me realize how key to the story of Sleeping Beauty the faeries are. They are the emotional heart of the film. With the exception of maybe Phillip, the rest of the characters are kind of one note. With the faeries we have anger, fear, jealousy, joy, silliness, courage, and hope. Yes the scene baking the cake is comic relief but when you think about what comes after the audience needs that lightness. They are smart and capable and the one’s who truly defeat Maleficent in the end. The fact the new movie made them negligent idiots still burns me up!
5. Tinker Bell (Peter Pan)- Probably the most iconic sidekick of them all Tinker bell is probably the second character people associate with Disney after Mickey Mouse. I really enjoy her own series of movies and the strong but sweet character there but I also find her fascinating in Peter Pan. Aside from Tink dying they keep pretty close to the faerie in the original play. She is jealous, angry, frustrated and yet she provides pixie dust and magic. It’s kind of an interesting paradox. In a strange way she is actually a very complex female character in an era when not many existed.
4. Alice in Wonderland Cast (Alice in Wonderland)- I know a bit of a cheat but basically Alice in Wonderland is her meeting a series of great minor characters. That’s the whole story and they all work equally well. Whether it is the white rabbit, Cheshire cat, blue caterpillar, singing flowers, cards soldiers, March Hare and more they are endlessly engaging. Some of them are mean, others cheeful, most complete nonsense and I love it! I think people that complain Alice in Wonderland has no story are missing the entire point of the story. I didn’t appreciate it as much as a child but it is one of my favorites now and it isn’t because of Alice but all the wonderful characters she meets.
3. Baymax (Big Hero 6)- Call it recency bias if you want but I can’t think of a character I responded more to the moment I saw them than Baymax. He is a symbol of the love of a brother and in many ways he symbolizes love and the need of all of us to be loved and taken care of. That said, he isn’t really schmaltzy as you might expect. Everything he says is simple and to the point but with great concern. It strikes just the right note and the script allows him to be a part of humor as well as tenderness. Most of these sidekicks I would never want in my life but I want my own Baymax. I loved Big Hero 6 and you could certainly include the entire team as dynamic wonderful sidekicks but Baymax takes the crown! I haven’t felt such affection for a character since the mice in Cinderella.
2. Lumiere (Beauty and the Beast)- really all the characters in Beauty and the Beast are great side characters- Mrs Potts, Cogsworth, Lefou ect are all fantastic. But if I had to pick my favorite it would be Lumiere. He is on one hand a smug showman who doesn’t listen but on the other he is generous, kind, and so much fun. He definitely has Disney’s greatest sidekick song (with Under the Sea being a close second). The voice performance by Jerry Orbach is one of the best ever and all in all he is simply charming.
1. Genie (Aladdin)- The reason I picked the Genie as the greatest sidekick is he is the only one on this list that single-handedly makes the entire movie work. Without Robin Williams manic performance in Aladdin there would be no movie. Every other film I’ve mentioned I could take out the side character and the movie would suffer but be able to continue. Without the Genie, Aladdin as a character never gets challenged or given an opportunity to grow. Without Genie 2 of the songs wouldn’t exist and all the humor would be gone. He is the magic for the story and in hoping for his freedom provides the real heart of the story. I’d say it is not only the greatest Disney side character but one of the greatest period in all of movies. We would expect nothing less from the late great Robin Williams.
A popular post on these type of movie blogs is ‘movies everyone likes but I don’t’ or vice versa. You can check out my blogging friend Animation Commendation for his highly controversial picks (Wall-e and Up overrated! Outrage!). He is focusing just on animation and I have decided to just post about the films I like others don’t. As I said in my post Jerks, Trolls and Critics my goal in my writing is to be an advocate for film . It is not to tear down what other people love.
So I want to use this post as a chance to advocate for films that I believe are underrated by critics and fans in general. These movies are far from perfect and I can understand why people don’t like them but for whatever reason I found something to enjoy while watching them. Call it nostalgia, call it low expectations but I like the following films that a lot of others don’t like.
In no particular order.
Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything-
Veggietales are kind of like the Christian fundamentalist cousin of the animation world but you know they are done pretty well. The music is always fun, voicework good and the colors bright and colorful.
Pirates was the first time they tried to do a non-biblical tale (previously they had done Jonah as a feature film as well as their many direct to video films about Daniel, Moses and other stories).
This film could entertain kids of any faith as it focuses on finding heroes and makes a person a hero.
Tomatometer- 39%. I’d give it a C+ it’s certainly not top tier animation but I still find it entertaining.
The Other Side of Heaven-
I admit this one is easier for me to like because it is about a member of my faith, John Groeberg who went as a missionary to Tonga and had some amazing experiences.
This was also the only film we were allowed to watch on my mission for the Mormon church and having served a mission like Groeberg I relate too it.
So maybe it isn’t for everyone but it’s pretty well made and acted. I would think the story would be inspirational for those of other faiths but hard for me to know.
But this is my list and I like it so it makes the list!
Tomatometer 29%. I would give it a B
Lord of the Rings-
Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings has developed a bit of a cult following over the years and I think it is deserved. It is not perfect and Peter Jackson’s version is definitely better but this is pretty good. The animation is strong in parts and weak in others but scenes like the ringwraiths in Bakshi are really well done with a style I haven’t seen in other movies (kind of looks like a hologram)
They pack a lot into the film especially if you like the extended version of the Peter Jackson films and it can feel rushed but I still like the animation and the story is so solid at it’s core that it just works.
Our friend the Nostalgia Critic did a fun compare/contrast between the Jackson and Bakshi’s versions.
Strong language warning
Tomatometer 50%, I would give it a B-
John Lasseter, over at Pixar, says they never do sequels unless they have an idea. That was the problem with most of the made for video sequels of the 90s and early 2000s. Most of them are a repeat of the original but with a new character (usually a child of our leads such as Bambi 2, Fox and the Hound 2, Lady and the Tramp 2 etc). Then there are one’s that continue the story but in incredibly trite and stupid ways. (Pocahontas 2, Brother Bear 2, Cinderella 2, and Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 are the worst examples). Finally there are sequels that are clobbered together from animated series that came after the movie and these are usually passable, on the Saturday morning cartoon level (Atltantis 2, Lilo and Stitch 2, Lion King sequels, Aladdin sequels etc).
But out of all of them The Little Mermaid sequels are passable but my favorite is Cinderella 3. Cinderella 2 is just her wedding and it sucks but 3 they actually have an idea.
Through a variety of circumstances Lady Tremaine finds the Fairy Godmother’s wand, which she then uses to turn back time and make it so Anastasia’s foot fits the slipper instead of Cinderella. The Prince now has to marry Anastasia and things seem pretty dire for our heroine.
The animation is on the Saturday morning level but it is passable and the songs are okay. It’s not great but I enjoyed seeing Lady Tremaine back up to no good and just found it very clever.
Tomatometer is actually high with only 7 reviews at 71% but I still say this counts because the sequels are so generally disregarded and looked down on.
Tomatometer 71%, I would give it a C
North Avenue Irregulars-
I suppose this is probably more forgotten than disliked but I’ve been wanting to make a shout-out to it so here goes.
It is the kind of movie almost never made today. A live action comedy starring A list talent for families. The story is silly and your enjoyment will probably depend on your taste of slapstick but it makes me laugh.
It was a dream team of comedic women with Barbara Harris, Susan Clark, Karen Valentine, Cloris Leachman, and a long list of faces you will recognize when you see them.
Edward Herrman is a nice foil for the ladies as the Reverend Hill who decides to take down local gambling syndicate using the ladies as the spies and detectives.
It has a pretty high tomatometer of 75% on 11 reviews but I still think it’s one that is easy to criticize but I like it. Great opening credits sequence too.
Tomatometer 75%, I would give it a B-
Disney’s Christmas Carol
Readers of my other blog smilingldsgirl.com kn0w The Christmas Carol is one of, if not my favorite stories ever written. I make sure to see it at the local theater every Christmas and watch as many versions as I can. There’s everything from Alastair Sims, George C Scott, to Bill Murray, Muppets, and Mickey Mouse.
I think what I like about the story is it is about lost causes and how anyone can change their lives if they embrace Christmas (and for me Christ) and decide to be a better person. It’s a story about redemption and I just love it.
When I heard that Jim Carey was being cast as Scrooge you can imagine my concern with a ham like him taking on my favorite character in literature. However, he plays it surprisingly straight and there are only a few antics when soaring through space. The spirits are done very well and there is a ton of the actual script taken from the novel, which is cool.
Some don’t like the stop motion animation but it doesn’t bother me. It’s a style just like any other and I can go with it. I wouldn’t say this is my favorite version but I still like it.
Tomatometer- 54%, I would give it a B
I wonder sometimes if people really hate this movie or if they just are mad at it because it’s not Up, Wall-e, and Ratatouille. Don’t get me wrong. It has major problems but is it really one of the worst movies ever made? While I’m not rushing out to buy the blu-ray I thought it was fun, decent level kids movie and an homage to the spy flicks their parents and older siblings get to watch.
As I said in my Planes: Fire and Rescue review, the world of the Cars and Planes movies is nutty and does not stand up to much examination. I guess there are car sex or car eggs hatching baby cars in this world? But then they run out of parts which is strange. Evidently some models are worthy of saving and others are not?
See how fast you can go down the rabbit hole with this world? So I suggest just going with it and not diving too deep. Just enjoy it as an homage to spy movies an leave it at that.
The other beef with this movie I hear is people don’t like Mater. I’m not sure why because I find him funny, as funny as a car can be at least…
It’s beautifully animated and the voicework is all good. The plot is actually pretty convoluted and complicated involving natural fuel. (Wouldn’t a world of just cars actually like the world to be poluted, that is their life sustaining liquid like we have water, they have oil…Again over-thinking it!
Overall I think the bad buzz is overrated and this movie is an ok, fun time at the movies.
Tomatometer- 39%, I would give it a C
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
We’ve talked a lot about this movie on the blog. I am aware I am in the minority on it. I thought it was a fun adventure movie with a wildly creative made up world that engaged me the way other good B Summer Adventure movies have like Indiana Jones, the Goonies, National Treasure etc. I liked the language and culture they created and the troop of explorers was fun and diverse.
The animation is gorgeous especially once they get to the Lost City and we have the blue crystals and their power. It has a bit of a steampunk feel and all in all I liked it. I thought it was a fun action adventure, treasure hunting story with a good, exciting ending. It all just worked for me in the spirit of those B adventure movies. So there you go!
Tomatometer- 49%, My Grade A-
Where the Wild Things Are
This is a movie you either go with and love or hate. I love it. It takes Maurice Sendak’s children’s story of a boy sent to bed without any supper finding a land of wild things and turns it into a brilliant movie.
It is the only film I’ve ever seen that captures the brooding quiet nature of childhood. Some say that makes it depressing but I remember being that kid. I remember hearing things in school like global warming or war and puzzling at how this could be. To me it was amazingly refreshing to have a kid who isn’t perky but a real person with all moods. His behavior when he meets the Wild Things is so authentic to what a kid, especially a boy, would do and I love it!
It’s a brilliant film in how it gives our character an opportunity to confront himself and his mother and realize they are both imperfect but trying. What a beautiful moment that is?
The puppets were the perfect choice as opposed to CGI. It makes it feel real and palatable and the voicework is PERFECT!
Tomatometer is high because of people like me- 72%, My Grade A+
To be honest I am really surprised the Space Jam tomatometer score so low. This is one of the few spots we can see our Looney Tunes friends on the big screens and I think it is charming. All the characters like Bugs, Daffy, Yosemite Sam and more are there in this live action/animation combo. Bill Murray is pretty funny and Michael Jordan is one of the better athletes turned actors (need I mention Shaque in Kazaam?)
I guess the plot follows a similar underdog theme but is anyone watching this for the intricate plot? No. They are watching it to see Bugs, Daffy and others tell good jokes and have a fun time and I think that’s what they get out of it.
Give it a watch through I bet you will agree it’s an entertaining flick.
Tomatometer- 35%, I would give it a B-
Follow that Bird-
Again this is probably more underrated than disliked. It has a very high tamotometer score in fact but I wanted to give it a shoutout anyway. Follow that Bird is the first Sesame Street movie and it is a real gem. Some people might discount it as a only a movie for little children because it is from Sesame Street but if you do that’s a shame because it is very clever and heartfelt.
Big Bird finds out he should be raised with a family and is adopted by the Dodo family making his new name Big Dodo. Despite having everything with the Dodo’s he isn’t happy, so he runs away. The rest of the film is part roadtrip and part our yellow bird finding out who his real family is.
It’s a lovely message for kids, there are lots of laughs and real heart too. I love all of the Muppets movies but this one will be close to the top for sure . I need to do a list of my favorite Muppet’s movies soon. What are your favorites?
Tomatometer- 91%, I would give it an A
Another Christian film critics were incredibly tough on. It tells the true story of Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark while surfing and how she made it back to compete in the pros with one arm. I will agree that the special effects are not great and it does look pretty obvious where they cut off Anna Sophie Robb’s arm in post-production.
However, if you can get over the technical flaws there is a lot to like . Bethany is an amazing person. In fact, at the moment she is on The Amazing Race and tearing it up there. I thought at first she was stunt casting to get sympathy but she has been up for every challenge. She does with one arm what others struggle with 2. Everything from rock climbing to balancing tasks she’s been up for and she’s done it all in such a pleasant and happy way. I like her even more than I did after this movie.
The supporting cast is strong with Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as her parents and Carrie Underwood as a youth minister. Aside from the arm special effects the rest of the surfing shots are well done and the story didn’t play out exactly as I thought it would and it is an exciting moment when she gets back on the surfboard.
Doesn’t reinvent the wheel but what it does it does well and I enjoy watching it.
Tomatometer- 46%, I would give it a B-
American Tail Fievel Goes West
Most people like the first American Tail but are tough on this sequel. I would agree it is not as good but I still enjoy it.
This one is not directed by Don Bluth like the original but Steven Spielberg is a producer.
In part 2 we get the Mousekewitz family deciding to leave New York for the promises of the West (streets weren’t paved with gold I see!). Fievel idolizes Wylie Burp the sheriff of the west who is brilliantly played by the great Jimmy Stewart in what I believe is his last role on screen.
On the way they meet a conniving cat who is trying to get them out there as cheap labor. Our friend Tiger voiced by Dom DeLuise again shows up and we also get Amy Irving, John Cleese and Jon Lovitz.
In the end, it’s a pretty entertaining story with twists and turns. I enjoy the homage to the western and hearing Jimmy Stewart as Wylie.
The music by James Horner is also wonderful and I particularly love Dreams to Dream.
Tomatometer- 40%, I would give it an A
So that’s my list! What do you think? Seen any of these? Do you hate them or think they are pretty good? I’d love your thoughts. Thanks for reading my ramblings.
Today is a good example of why I am glad I started this project. In 2001 when Disney’s 41st animated film Atlantis: The Lost Emperor came out I was underwhelmed by it. I remember thinking it was boring (an adjective I try to never use in my reviews because it doesn’t mean anything). It seems hard to believe because the movie I watched today was a fast paced delight. I am truly shocked how much I enjoyed it! (I was 20 by the way in 2001 so it wasn’t like a child who might be more likely to find this boring).
This review is going to be a little different than some of my others because I want to give you guys the chance to go into the film spoiler free. I am spoiler proof. For some reason repetition doesn’t bother me and I legitimately do not care if I know the ending to things. But that said, I think for this type of action adventure movie it will be more fun to not have every detail dissected like other Disney films which most people have seen.
Go out, rent it and give it another shot!!!! At the very least I don’t think you will have a terrible time at the movies and I bet you will enjoy it!
Here’s the trailer to give you an idea of the story (it is a very good non-spoilery trailer. They don’t even give away the villain and I won’t either)
I can talk a little bit about the production without giving anything away. After Hunchback the crew wanted to stay together but go in a radically different direction so Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, Don Hahn and others set out to make Disney’s first science fiction movie and one of their few original stories.
There is a definite steampunk feel with its influences from Jules Verne and Victorian/futuristic mashups. The ship could be the nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
They visited museums, researched a variety of cultures and created their own version of Atlantis. According to my research it had Mayan, Greek, Cambodian, Indian and Tibetan elements.
They even hired the guy who created the Klingon language to make one for Atlantis. That is just cool.
They had good writers including Joss Whedon who worked on the project for a while and then Tab Murphey took over and it has a Whedon team feel to it. Milo is the lead in the movie looking for Atlantis but he quickly gets joined by a rag-tag crew that is very diverse for Disney and full of surprises. It’s like the Steampunk Avengers!
The voice acting is mostly unknowns except for Michael J Fox as Milo, James Garner as Captain Rourke, John Mahoney as Whitmore, Jim Varney as Cookie and Leonard Nimoy as the King.
They also hired Mike Mignola, creator of the Hellboy comics, as a production designer and you can see his influence in the film even down to the hands he uses in his drawings:
“I remember watching a rough cut of the film and these characters have these big, square, weird hands. I said to the guy next to me, “Those are cool hands.”
And he says to me, “Yeah, they’re your hands. We had a whole meeting about how to do your hands.” It was so weird I couldn’t wrap my brain around it”
I love that comic book influence on the film and yet it avoids cliches in a lot of the characters (yes they fulfill certain tropes like the tough talking female mechanic but then she has moments of softness). There’s a moment where you feel like Milo is alone and it actually seems like he is being left and then the movie is very clever with what happens with the characters and story.
I liked every character in the movie, and I’m not normally a sci-fi person.
They were also influenced by anime at the time and particularly Hayao Miyazaki and his amazing adventure stories, and I think they pull off a lovely homage.
Some of the mysticism is a little convoluted with the blue crystals and everything but for this kind of story I bought it. And the imagery is beautiful.
The only thing parents will want to be aware of is Princess Kida wears very skimpy clothing and bathing suits throughout the film.
The score is by James Newton Howard and it is excellent but there are no songs (funny coming from the troop of Hunchback and Beauty and the Beast!). But I’m glad because they really weren’t necessary. The score is all we need to create tension.
The movie is also very funny. Characters like the Moleman and Cookie were a lot of fun.
It is also one of the few Disney movies that doesn’t really have a strong romance. It just allows you to focus on the characters. I like that.
I’ll say it again I was genuinely shocked how much I enjoyed Atlantis: The Lost Empire. It was exciting, beautifully drawn, with a fun troop of characters to root for.
Unlike in 2001, I did not think it was boring this time around. In fact, it seemed to clip along quite quickly. There also isn’t tons of exposition. They just present the world, language and everything else and let you figure it out as the characters do.
I liked the women in the picture. Kida isn’t the perfect savage you expect. Mechanic Audrey had some layers to her. Not every decision was easy, and Helga is not someone to get pushed around (she surprised me! Totally kicked butt!).
All the characters have their moment and there is humor and tough action. I loved the sound design. In fight scenes you hear punches and grunts. It helps immerse you in the experience.
There are some holes in the story and things happen in relatively tidy ways but isn’t that usually the case for these kind of movies? I mean if you start to take apart Indiana Jones movies they are very tidy too and completely implausible but it’s a B Summer movie with great action and fun characters so you go with it.
In any case, for whatever reason, I didn’t buy it at 21 but really enjoyed it at 33. Maybe I’m not the same person I was back then? Go figure!
But seriously, give this movie another shot. Go out, rent it, and let me know what you think. I bet a lot of you will be pleasantly surprised like I was!
Overall Grade- A-
It might be a little hard for kids under 7 to follow so keep that in mind.
So now we are starting the part of this project I am probably looking forward to the least- the Disney 2000s. To be honest, if I could just watch 12 Pixar movies instead I would be a lot more pumped but I promised to go into the project open minded and I will do so with each of these films.
In fact, most of them aside from Emperor’s New Groove, I either haven’t seen or haven’t seen in a long time. So I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised kind of like I was with Rescuers Down Under. Hopefully I will find a hidden gem.
So, I am curious, my wonderful readers, which one (or more) out of these 12 do you like and why? Get me pumped! Which is your least favorite? I promise I will not let your likes or dislikes affect my view of the films so don’t worry about that. Just share in the comments or message me on facebook or twitter at @smilingldsgirl.