Sunday, October 27, 2013
BEST DISNEY MOVIES - Wrap-up Part 7
Where there is darkness, there is light. Where there is death, there is life. Where there is sadness, there is joy. Wher- wait, none of these things are true. They're just empty platitudes. But, at least on this blog, where there is a list of bad movies, there's a list of good ones. A list much harder to narrow down, which speaks well of the general quality of the films. So before we go on, the almost-made its. Honorable mentions: Bolt gave a very strong showing, and was far and away the best of their first dalliance with computer animation, but just missed the cut due to bland casting and a patchy story. Hunchback had great drama and fantastic music, and would have been on this list if it wasn't for the gargoyles. Seriously, they kept it off. Tangled held together very well, and is extremely rewatchable, but a bit too thin for the final tally. And now, the victors!
A surprise early entry. You may recall my early enmity with the American Film Institute for mistaking age with quality, but this is one where they got it right. Sure, parts of it are a bit dated, and Jiminy Cricket is an annoying jerk, but the story has a surprising amount of heart and a nicely sinister edge, albeit one toned down from the book.
Another Imaginary Collection of Compilation Films
Well, I’m sure you all saw this coming. After making the bad compilation, I decided to pick my favorite bit from each compilation film and pretend it was one movie. “Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day” is the centerpiece here, and we’ll close on “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing At the Met”. “El Gaucho Goofy” would be a solid opener, and we’ll throw in “Bumble Boogie”, “Johnny Appleseed”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, “Rhapsody in Blue”, and “Carnival of the Animals”, all hosted, of course, by Who Else But Deems Taylor.
While the story’s a little thin, the distinctive production design and Tchaikovsky score do more than enough to cover it. Add a fantastic villain, three unique and funny female protagonists, and baby, you got a stew going. And hey, the lovers may have been boring, but at least they actually had a conversation before getting married.
This is one that really grew on me. The new animation style was used to great effect, and the characters are really likeable, and able to come off as real while still being cartoony. I think this was the first Disney film to use a really dark color palate, and it creates a great mood as the dogs escape, as do the loose and stylized backgrounds.
The Great Mouse Detective
One of Disney’s more successful cheapies, this has a great plot, a fantastic main character, and a whole lot of creative visual bits. And Vincent Price, which is an improvement in anything. Sure, it saved the studio and proved that animation was still viable and profitable after a long dark period, but more than that, it's just plain good.
Beauty and the Beast
Still the only of these films to be nominated for best picture, even now that they’ve expanded the category to allow pity nominations, this movie deserves it completely. Characters, music, and story are all fully realized here for the first time ever, and it holds onto the magic no matter how many times you view it.
The Lion King
Drawing on the tone and quality established by Beauty and the Beast, this movie is just a solid home run of actors, scripting, and especially characters. Amazing villain, and none of the sidekick characters feel extraneous to the plot. With only five songs, it’s a bit light on music, but holy crap, are they good songs.
Hercules / The Emperor’s New Groove
Oh, I’m cheating, I know. But these were both really solid comedies with strong voice acting and an extremely irreverent attitude toward anachronism. I couldn’t choose one, because each did its comedy admirably well, and one was strong on action and weak on drama while the other was strong on drama and weak on action. So I’m letting them share.
Speaking of strong on drama. Hoo boy. The impact of the family drama and the strong, serious, mature tone kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was watching. Add excellent, naturalistic voice acting and that Phil Collins score that worked far better than it had any right to, and you’ve got a real hidden treasure.
Lilo and Stitch
I’m not ranking these, but this is the number one, hands down. The clever script, the emotional punch, the imaginative animation, it’s solid gold from start to finish. Top that off with maybe the best cast ever and a deft use of Elvis tunes, and you’ve got the best movie of the 52.
Okay, okay, I’ll be the first to admit this movie probably isn’t all that good. But like its fellow attempt at sci-fi drama, Atlantis, there’s an ambition to it and a sense of gusto that are able to work together and spackle over a whole lot of cracks in the story, and unlike Atlantis, the story was only cracked, not riddled with crevices of goofy-ass inanity. In the end, the brilliant design and great voice work win me over. Style over substance? A bit. But when the style is this good, it should be recognized.
The Princess and the Frog
Some of you may be surprised to see this on here over more classic films, and I almost am, too. But the excellent characters, score, and design really push it up in my estimation. I love the music, I love Dr. Facilier, and the voice cast is one of the best they’ve ever had. Quite an underrated film in my opinion.
Once again, amazing casting and music, this time with a clever script that just does not stop for a moment. As a big Winnie-the-Pooh fan going back to my childhood, this is everything I want in a Pooh movie. It’s sweet and unpretentious, and just so full of life and joy. I’ve rewatched it more times than any other movie this year, and I imagine I will continue to do so.