Animation Studios: Walt Disney

  1. ElCochran90
  2. Edgar

It has definitely been a long way since 1937, when this psycho, demented, yet revolutionary animation company dared to make the unconceivable come true: to bring to life a full feature movie to the big screen, and so was born Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, one of the most impressive and landmark animated films of all times. Everybody was in awe. A full animated feature film!

Then, considering my humble movie-critic's perspective, Disney said in 1994: "OK, we're done. We've got nothing else but formulaic ideas; some of them may turn out good, some of them not." And so, Lion King, their last masterpiece was released.

I highly respect this animation empire because it has stood the test of time throughout more than 7 decades. I can't really recall any outstanding movie during the 2000s, but a their collection is definitely worth owning.

Note: Shorts, live-action films and direct-to-video bullsh!ts are not included.

List is in chronological order. The following listing is, of course, my best-to-worst order.

1.- Fantasia (1940)
2.- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
3.- Bambi (1942)
4.- Alice in Wonderland (1951)
5.- The Lion King (1994)
6.- Lady and the Tramp (1955)
7.- Pinocchio (1940)
8.- Dumbo (1941)
9.- One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
10.- Aladdin (1992)
11.- The Jungle Book (1967)
12.- Peter Pan (1953)
13.- Sleeping Beauty (1959)
14.- The Sword in the Stone (1963)
15.- Robin Hood (1973)
16.- The Aristocats (1970)
17.- Cinderella (1950)
18.- Beauty and the Beast (1991)
19.- The Little Mermaid (1989)
20.- The Three Caballeros (1944)
21.- Fantasia 2000 (1999)
22.- The Fox and the Hound (1981)
23.- Mulan (1998)
24.- Tarzan (1999)
25.- The Rescuers (1977)
26.- Pocahontas (1996)
27.- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
28.- Hercules (1997)
29.- Lilo & Stitch (2002)
30.- Tangled (2010)
31.- The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
32.- Dinosaur (2000)
33.- Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
34.- The Princess and the Frog (2009)
35.- The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
36.- Bolt (2008)
37.- Brother Bear (2003)
38.- Meet the Robinsons (2007)
39.- Chicken Little (2005)
40.- Home on the Range (2004)

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  ElCochran90's Rating My Rating
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937,  G)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The first animated feature film ever is also one of the best animated experiences of all time. David Hand was named crazy, but his unique masterwork has trascended 70 years later and now is referenced as an inspirational source for creative and inventive storytelling. The Toy Story of the 30's (as for influece and landmark filmmaking goes).

Pinocchio 1940,  G)
A classic masterpiece of animation by reputation, by its merits and by definition. That insatiable eagerness of a toy to become a human kid and start a new life is impossible to forget. Who would say that such desire would be the beginning of one of the most extraordinary adventures of celluloid? The Biblical reference is amusing, but Pinocchio has already achieved a gigantic status of glory and remembrance, quite deservingly.

Fantasia 1940,  G)
Fantasia expanded boundaries way before audiences were prepared for it, including (quite probably) Walt Disney himself! I'm not quite sure whether if I fully approve its release date, but generations have moved on, and this sublime, unparalleled and absolutely unsurpassable animated masterpiece has stood the test of time, multiple perspectives and upcoming international deliveries with their respective animation styles. From the classical music style, to the macabre, to the unbelievable, to the allegorical (Mickey in Wizard's Apprentice), this is, and always shall be, the best creation of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Behold its magnificence. Flixster user "ahhh1989" provides a quite fair description: "A visual and aural feast of the imagination and a true celebration of the magic of animation." Ladies, gentlemen: This is the best animated film of all times. 100/100
Dumbo 1941,  G)
A strong classic delivery by Disney, but it is still empathetic towards the human race. Discrimination, intolerance, sure we get it (I sincerely hope so). So, the empire of animation dedicating a 64-minute film to all of the human Dumbo's scattered throughout the globe is a wonderful gift to the world. In some way, we all have a Dumbo inside, being constantly rejected by ludicrous social standards but finding comfort from an external source. For me, that source is God.

Bambi 1942,  G)
No matter how dark and depressing this is: Disney, the Golden Age animation empire, was a landmark institution in two things: feature-length animation films and eternal boldness in their thematic elements, and the creation of fantasy worlds. The dark nature is immediately compensated by some of the most touching and heartwarming moments in cinema history, and its predominant simplicty, its honesty and its overwhelming colors make of Bambi one of the best animated films ever made and a treasure to behold for the immortal generations. Iconic.

Saludos Amigos 1943,  G)
The Three Caballeros 1944,  G)
The Three Caballeros
An undervalued and underrated rare project by Disney. So, it's quite difficult to actually approve the concept in this era; it just seems to be an attempt, under the lines of: "Well, let's see if it turns out any good, judging by the reactions of audiences." It's funny how Disney interprets Mexico as well immediately after WWII. However, it's better to appreciate this for what it is, in spite of being a not-so-bad "miss" for Disney, than recent forced "spoofs".

Make Mine Music 1946,  Unrated)
Fun & Fancy Free 1947,  G)
Melody Time 1948,  G)
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad 1949,  G)
Cinderella 1950,  G)
You can clearly spot the intention of Jackson and Geronimi to conceive a grand classic. Although it is more influenced by classic Hollywood than by the essence and fragance of classic Disney, Disney's Cinderella is a tender and "sugary" joy to watch, especially with so many subsequent "adaptations" that can be widely considered as mankind's pop-cultured abominations.

Alice in Wonderland 1951,  G)
Alice in Wonderland
Another fantastic and mindblowing classic animated Disney masterpiece. Beautiful, touching, and legendary. In modern era, Burton was thought to be the mastermind that could pull off this fantasy novel effectively. This brilliant adaptation, however, still carries its retard criticisms about the movie being senseless, its supposedly subliminal messages regarding drugs and its incoherence.

I applaud fiercely Walt Disney's boldness for creating a truly visionary concept, a world 100 times more puzzling and bewildering than Avatar's. Svankmajer has been the only genius capable of reaching this caliber.

Peter Pan 1953,  G)
Peter Pan
Fantastic. This children's fairy (and somewhat allegorical) fairy tale has been adapted a ludicrous number of times, but Disney's classic version remains the strongest from any angle you analyze it. Superb effort and terribly underrated.

Lady and the Tramp 1955,  G)
Lady and the Tramp
Disney at its finest, this time resembling (perhaps intentionally?) the classic tramp Chaplin story, and easily among the best animated motion pictures of all times.

Sleeping Beauty 1959,  G)
Sleeping Beauty
It's by Disney... This one has got the magic, the prince, the beautiful princess, the witch, the dragon, the battles, and everything else for a succesful magic and heroic tale to be cherished for generations.

101 Dalmatians 1961,  G)
101 Dalmatians
A fantastic romantic tale. The combination of characters is definitely phenomenal and the setting arrives as a very impressive context. The word unique rarely applies completely, but this is a wonderful exception. Thumbs up for Cruella De Vil as the most burlesque and maniac female villain in animated history! 92/100
The Sword in the Stone 1963,  G)
The Sword in the Stone
Unusual it may seem, but for the love of God, please people keep in mind that a) this was supposed to be an animated feature aimed towards all audiences, specially children and b) this movie tells the legend of the sword in the stone from the proper fantasy perspective, NOT the story of King Arthur from a historical perspective. It's as dumb as expecting Apocalypto to be accurate... 85/100
The Jungle Book 1967,  PG)
The Jungle Book
Amazing. The Jungle Book has kept four decades of young generations thanking this adventurous musical for bringing alone great childhood memories. Count me in, please. I was Mowgli when I was 5.

The Aristocats 1970,  G)
The Aristocats
Underrated and unacceptably forgotten solid Disney classic. Please name an animated movie of the 70s with so much charm and class. Naturally, you can't.

Robin Hood 1973,  G)
Robin Hood
Fantastic little tale, thanks to the alternate vision from Reitherman, still imprinting some references and visual style from The Jungle Book. A version with humanoid animals seemed most unlikely to be true (and serious, for that matter), but the outcome is undeniably charming and it keeps that old aroma from the Errol Flynn days.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 1977,  G)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Straight from A.A. Milne's imagination, during the 70s Disney was still capable of executing a sense of nostalgia which simplicity can transport us back to our childhood times were our mentality was less complicated, maybe more confused, but all the more bening. Keep in mind that the title is suggesting "many adventures", meaning that it gives the sense of telling an entire book of around 150 pages in 74 minutes, progressing from one anecdote to the next very quickly, very humbly, but maybe with no sense of cohesion. After all, it is all about displaying the beloved characters in an official feature length film for the first time. It is not the promoted "Walt Disney's masterpiece" that its publicity has intentionally suggested. It is, nevertheless, a creative manner to use animation to entice children to read. Several sequences actually make the book and the characters interact in a metaphorical way. Songs are unforgettable, especially the main theme, and it is the first project after the great The Three Caballeros (1944) where Disney attempted to convey a different kind of animation, noticeable in the landscapes, to give it a sense of book illustrations, while the narrator (maybe unsuccessfully for some) makes us feel like children in bed during nighttime. A classic? Err.... Okay, let's say "Yes, it is". In fact, the last three minutes were gorgeous. 68/100
The Rescuers 1977,  G)
The Rescuers
Enjoyable to its fullest, although not particularly out-standing, except for the hilarious reputation it acquired thanks to its "subliminal message". I'm watching a subliminal message right now from my window :)

The Fox and the Hound 1981,  G)
The Fox and the Hound
Not lacking so much substance and solid remembrance for being considered as a true classic, The Fox and the Hound shows the same thing most past Disney magical tales have told: the importance of friendship amidst difficult circumstances. The generous score is due to happy childhood memories it revives in me.

The Black Cauldron 1985,  PG)
The Great Mouse Detective 1986,  G)
Oliver & Company 1988,  G)
The Little Mermaid 1989,  G)
The Little Mermaid
Despite how great this movie is, I say: Cheers for the erect penis!

The Rescuers Down Under 1990,  G)
The Rescuers Down Under
Not particularly what you would call "a necessary sequel", despite having an attractive opening. The rest is just animated mumbo-jumbo.

Beauty and the Beast 2012,  G)
Beauty and the Beast
One of the most enchanting and beloved Disney classics, this film relies on the magic world it creates, its inspiringly well-done animation and, ultimately, the classic dance sequence. A Disney gem worth of respect and recognition, and a family version that surpassed any expectation, just like Cocteau's superior version did back in the 40's.

Aladdin 1992,  G)
Aladdin, just before Lion King, is among the last innovative and outstanding animated masterpieces of Disney's tradition. I'll allow myself to quote Dimitris Springer's (jimbotender) comment:

"Musical out of the original arabian night's tale?It sounds repulsive at first,however the set is colorful and rich with sparkling tones and enchanting desires."

Only Disney could extract such vibrant and nostalgic talent from the original story to the big screen with incredible visuals and unforgettable features.

The Lion King 2011,  G)
The Lion King
Disney's last masterpiece destined to be worshiped for the future generations. 1994 and here we are, witnessing the spectacle that the cycle of life represents, decades passing by and souls maturing. Yes, they are animals, but that's the point. The world's creation is futile in its banal self-destructiveness, but miraculous in its varied colors, instincts and traits. This is a unique feature film for animation capable of rising all kinds of sentiments to the surface at an exotic rhythm.

Pocahontas 1995,  G)
Difficult to judge. When you have to guess whether it's an attempt to reach The Lion King's greatness, or if it actually tries to be a historically accurate depiction of the story, or if it just tries to be a visually challenging story aimed for kids, you're in trouble. It's hard to make a positive and objective opinion. Terrence Malick came to save the decade with his masterful adaptation; this, on the other hand, has different purposes, and few people realize it.

That's why people are so dumb that they prefer Avatar over this.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996,  G)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Not my favorite version, but Disney was able to create a very moving and inspiring classic tale for the whole family to watch, and of that fact, I'm glad.

Hercules 1997,  G)
You may appreciate this "hit-and-miss" Disney feature after seeing an official list containing every single Hercules adaptation and version available, be it direct-to-video, TV series or the big screen. Impressive visuals here and there, and thanks to the amazing character of Hades (I was actually impressed by these guys that they could come up with such a vibrant and histerically funny character incarnation), this roller-coaster is worth the ride.

Mulan 1998,  G)
Perhaps Disney's last good effort. Mulan scratches some mythological topics invading a foreign culture through a very alienated perspective, but it compensates its mistakes with great songs, nice humor and a proper plot and pace treatment. Nice job.

Tarzan 1999,  G)
I can't really be helped since this is a childhood favorite. Seeing this at the theatres back in 1999 was a breathtaking ride. I don't know if the original Tarzans would approve the animated creation of a financially successful Disney, but this 2D adventure is better than almost any animated film released by Disney the following decade.

Fantasia 2000 2000,  G)
Fantasia 2000
A wonderful IMAX experience, but nothing more. This unnecessary new installment tries to achieve exactly what the original did: landmark animation. Nevertheless, how can you explain that the Mickey Mouse sequence is portrayed again?? Joyous ride, but it really goes nowhere, except for the forest sequence which was surprisingly good.

Dinosaur 2000,  PG)
Mesmerizing computerized animation and a great musical score make of this non-Pixar animated film an emotional underrated feast for the senses that drags just occasionally, extreme entertainment guaranteed.

The Emperor's New Groove 2000,  G)
The Emperor's New Groove
Disney's decadence starts to show its face. Dinosaur was their last attempt to create something out-standing and, after witnessing the mixed reviews, return to their 2D roots.

Forced and retarded, but has some redeeming gags.

Atlantis - The Lost Empire 2001,  PG)
Atlantis - The Lost Empire
Retard; it feels like if this movie laughed at our very faces, and I will tell you why.

Atlantis shows the declining nature of Disney in the new millennium. Analyze the plot and context properly, and you'll see two huge mistakes:

a) Influence from the ideas of Japanese animation.
b) Disney merging "a)" with a Hollywood formula: Hollywood characters, situations, pace and screenplay structure.

In the end, you'll see how idiotic the result is and, the most painful aspect about the situation, how much talent got wasted.

After witnessing some scenes in between and the climactic action-sequence, one single thought kept popping to my head more than once: "Japan could have made a fantastic animation movie from this material".

In fact, you know what? I could use a remake.

Lilo & Stitch 2002,  PG)
Lilo & Stitch
A contemporary Disney classic. Charming and fun with some refreshing overtones, but way too dependent on pop-culture references and on a more consummerist young audience (including its kids).

Treasure Planet 2002,  PG)
Brother Bear 2003,  G)
Brother Bear
Emotionally soulless and uninspired meditation on the cycle of life. Disney attemps The Lion King once more but... with bears. It hurts to see them fall this way, but I won't deny the couple of valuable lessons given here and there.

Home on the Range 2004,  PG)
Home on the Range

Chicken Little 2005,  G)
Chicken Little
Last decade, the idea of making 3D-animated features became so popular, that every single studio possible gave it a shot. Amidst that animation ocean, we can find Chicken Little, one of the lamest attempts available.

I could perfectly see what the mistake was. Chicken Little was made specifically for kids in order for them to try on their 3D glasses in theaters. The problem was, however, that this story was meant to be a story told in the traditional hand-drawn animation style. So... This is what we got.

F#ck; I'd kill that pig!!

Meet the Robinsons 2007,  G)
Meet the Robinsons
The intentions are immediately observable: to attract a modernized and different generation of kids and young ones. The setting and the plot immediately explains it. Although the bar was surpassed in small elements compared to Chicken Little, a rare all-animal feature, Robinsons cannot escape the landscape of mediocrity and lack of interest in leaving a mark in children's hearts, besides the random attempt to briefly show an apocalyptic, "cyberpunk" atmosphere in the end.

Bolt 2008,  PG)
Bolt is Disney desperately trying to match the brilliance and talent of the Pixar crew. Needless to say, the effort is more noticeable in the animation than in the prevention of a lame story, awful clichés and hugely predictable aspects. Honestly, I'm already getting tired. Could the canine protagonist be a metaphor of Disney trying to "get out of the screen" in order to travel through the world in search of new stories? Well... it could be. That's sad. Not even the 3D animation became Disney's redemption so, naturally, their next try was with The Princess and the Frog.

The Princess and the Frog 2009,  G)
The Princess and the Frog
Remember the excruciating Enchanted (2007)? Well, after Disney blindly thought that they had made a masterpiece (haha!) because of its unfortunately big financial success, they finally decide to step away from the 3D animation temporarily and direct what is, ultimately, a reminder of the traditional style of telling an animated story. The result? Well, instead of proceeding with my commentary, I'll make an intentionally mixed list of pros and cons, and let it speak for itself. In The Princess and the Frog, you will find: - The typical romance story that made classic Disney famous, told with a predominant mediocrity. - Non-interesting, boring characters. - Good animation. - The first Afro-American princess in Disney history. - OK songs. - A provocative use of shiny colors. - Failed emotions. - Spoofs of immortal children tales including The Frog Prince. - A nostalgic reference to The Rescuers. - A forced ending. - A partially convincing art direction. - More boring (animal) characters. - An average screenplay. - Slapstick violence. - Some bits with the humor that made Disney famous. - An entirely, 100% predictable plot, including several dialogues. - A rather interesting and original villain. - A very noticeable inspiration from The Color Purple (1985). - The melodramatic death of a character that was supposed to increase the emotional touch, but that ended up being distracting. - The controversial use of witchcraft and voodoo that almost goes unperceived thanks to the childish elements disguising it. - Unconceivable decisions made by the main character. - Emphasis on money and materialism. - Attention towards the futility of discrimination, once again, in a forced way. I mean, the children will OBVIOUSLY reflect on the problems of racism in the actuality... I rest my case. 54/100
Tangled 2010,  PG)
Rapunzel! Why hadn't Disney taken the story in a motion picture before? For being the 50th film of the Disney animation studios, it is a film that surpasses expectations and preconceived notions, with an effective touch of modernity.

3D animation captures motions and emotions that traditional animation can't. I do not support one animation style more than the other; as long as the advantages offered by every means at disposal are utilized in the wisest of ways, from purposes of comedic physical actions to capture tenderness, from constructing musical numbers and exploring visually rich scenarios to direct action sequences, the animation style is everything and creating a world is possible.

From my personal experience and point of view, 3D can be more convenient at capturing visually rich scenarios, more effective slapstick humor that involves direct physical characters' contact, accelerating the pace of the film if required and constructing more geometrical figures, objects and shapes. Tangled does all of the above, except exploring its world. Once Rapunzel goes out to the world, it is easy to forget you are living in an era of centuries ago even if the scenarios are there. This is a magical romance in the most classic of all traditions, and such tradition involves taking us back to another century while it engulfs the actions of the characters, like the first Shrek film did. Despite that, I can say that Tangled is better than what it may seem at first glance, and an intention so noble to revive the past days that it barely acquired the honor to be the 50th representative animated feature of Disney's empire.

Winnie the Pooh 2011,  G)
Winnie the Pooh
The official big-screen return to the Hundred Acre Wood by Walt Disney Animation Studios is an uninspired exercise of nostalgia which shockingly short running length is a sign of the studio's potential decay and lack of creativity, if we also consider that it is the third feature ever to have a direct sequel after Fantasia (1940) and The Rescuers (1977) had their respective follow-ups. It has, nevertheless, some positive aspects worth a mention, such as the studio not giving up to the hope of traditional 2D animation, which surely looks great, the simplicity involved in the events and the comedy, and the verbal humor, a trick that I am particularly a fan of. The musical numbers are still there, even if they sucked, and the typical animated sequence seemingly composed by the imagination of several LSD-driven animators like the ones we had in classic Disney gets a humble revival here. Unfortunately, it doesn't only fail as a continuation of the new 2D animation within the studio, but also fails as a Winnie the Pooh story. By 2014, this film is already completely forgotten, whereas the previous installment of the 70s can be at least considered a classic, fairly. The characters are fillers and are not given a chance to develop, because this is being treated as a direct sequel to the previous film. The characters, therefore, do not receive the proper care. The previous direct-to-video features were painfully boring, but even those had a more interesting story. Is this a step forward or a step back? Or did these guys remain exactly at the same spot? I'd say the latter happened. It was a filler project with no heart despite its efforts to make it seem that it has one. Be it as it may, the "I cannot knot" sequence is quite funny. 51/100
King of the Elves 2012,  Unrated)

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