The Disney Animated Canon Part 2

For the other parts of this series, here are the links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Full Ranking.

The Good Films

#42 – The Rescuers Down Under – 1990

A good and enjoyable film although definitely a sequel that doesn’t live up to the original. The real problem is that the original had a great 70’s feeling and went to some really dark places with its story while this is fluffy at best.

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#41 – The Three Caballeros – 1944

This could easily be seen as a continuation of Saludos Amigos and is overall a far better film. It’s still a propaganda film trying to sell tourism for Latin America by showing the quirky and loveable Latin people. But the three birds (Donald, Jose, and Panchito) give a lot of great laughs to this wholly enjoyable film.

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#40 – Robin Hood – 1973

This is a film that’s often forgotten about in the history of Disney films and to be honest I’m not surprised. It doesn’t hold up to either of its contemporaries (The Rescuers or The Sword in the Stone) and while it definitely gets some laughs (and has one great song in Love), I wish that it was more special.

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#39 – Peter Pan – 1953

If only they could have had not made a chunk of the film either racist or sexist I might be able to like it more. The film does have a lot of heart and it’s no understatement that Captain Hook is one of the best villains in Disney history.

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#38 – Pinocchio – 1940

The early part of the movie tries really hard to show off the intricacies of the animators but the story, while certainly interesting, isn’t nearly as entertaining or as captivating as it could be. Its really a product of its time.

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#37 – Fun and Fancy Free – 1947

This package film got it right. They had two strong stories (Bongo, which on its own better than Dumbo as a circus film, and Mickey and the Beanstalk) both with good animation and fun music. I’m not a huge fan of the package films either way, but this is definitely one of the strongest.

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#36 – Winnie the Pooh – 2011

This was one of the four films I hadn’t seen before I did the marathon and the biggest problem here is that I am totally biased. I grew up with The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh and unfortunately this just doesn’t compare. It’s all so different, and I hate that that diminishes my opinion of it, but nevertheless it does. Still a good and fun film though.

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#35 – The Princess and the Frog – 2009

When I first saw this film, I hated it. I hated the music, I found the characters to be contrived, and the animation just didn’t hold up to the renaissance films it was trying to harken back to. After watching it again I’ve done a total reevaluation. I love Tiana as a character and I do like the villain, but I still don’t like the music. I can’t remember a single song and I only just watched the film. And that does knock it down a peg.

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#34 – The Great Mouse Detective – 1986

The problem with this film is that Sherlock Holmes stories have been done so frequently and so much better. This is good no doubt, and it’s certainly a fun film, but it left me wanting to go watch either of the current Sherlock television shows or the Robert Downey Jr. films.

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#33 – Fantasia 2000 – 1999

Every individual segment of this film is good, but it loses what made the original a classic which was how cohesive the film was. These don’t flow together well whereas the original was a complete and cinematic experience. 

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A few days from now part three will be up. Stay tuned. 

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The Disney Animated Canon Part 1

As I have said on a number of other occasions, I frequent the film blog nighthawknews.wordpress.com for a great deal of my film reading and part of my inspiration for the way I engage in film came from his posts on his favorite directors. A few weeks ago I fell sick and couldn’t really do anything aside from watch movies, so I decided to take another queue from him and marathon the Disney Animated Canon while I was sick. I wouldn’t have a better opportunity to watch 52 films in a short span of time. Eight days later I finished my marathon and I now have a ranking of all the Disney Films. He and I have certain things we agree on (our top three and bottom one) but everything between is a mishmash.

Also before I start I should classify what the Disney Animated Canon is. The list can be found here but basically it is theatrically released, completely or mostly animated, films made by Walt Disney Animation Studios. So partially animated live action films (like Song of the South or Who Framed Roger Rabbit), non-Disney Animated Studios release (so Pixar, Disney Toons, and Studio Ghibli films) and non-theatrical (the paramour of direct to DVD sequels) are not included. Only the 52 films I list are part of the canon. I will be going from worst to least. 

For the other parts of this series, here are the links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Full Ranking.

The Truly and Utterly Bad

 #52 – Home on the Range (2004)

Like I said, we agree on one thing for sure and that is that Home on the Range was the stupidest Disney film ever released. Trying their hand at a Western Comedy they cast Roseanne Barr as the lead Cow and it is completely terrible. The plot is stupid, the voice acting is bad (although not the worst Disney has ever employed) and ITS NOT FUNNY. While I have no problem with Disney going serious, this was not that. They wanted this to be funny and it just wasn’t. Cliché after Cliché. 

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#51 – Fox and the Hound – 1981

When I said Home on the Range didn’t have the worst voice acting in a Disney film, it was this film I was talking about. Kurt Russel and Mickey Rooney? Who thought that was a good idea!! Not to mention the biggest problem with this film. It’s trying to be Bambi and it doesn’t have the courage or the quality to go through with it. The film is plodding and slow and if it weren’t for the song “Best of Friends” it would rank as the worst Disney film.

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#50 – Chicken Little – 2005

This is just another film that isn’t funny. There are a few jokes that get a laugh from me (thanks to the Fish-out-of-water character) but it’s just not funny and doesn’t have anything else to give it any quality.

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 #49 – The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad – 1949

There were six films released between Bambi and Cinderella that were collections of short animations. These are called the “package films” and Ichabod and Mr. Toad is by far the worst of them. It’s only redeeming quality is some truly terrifying images in the last five minutes, but all together the films two stories don’t amount to much of anything. My dad loves this film, I just don’t get it.

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The Mediocre Films

#48 – Make Mine Music – 1946

This film is a huge step up from Ichabod and Mr. Toad because rather than having almost nothing of value, this film has some very funny and heartwarming segments. Out of the ten shorts within this film, three of them are good (and one would have been if set to different music. This is like a Queen album, some great songs but it doesn’t really mesh together. Too much second rate filler. 

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#47 – Saludos Amigos – 1942

None of the skits in this film work for me except for Goofy the Cowboy. Similar to Make Mine Music, the film doesn’t mesh because of the substandard quality of most of the skits. Fortunately this film is only 40 minutes long so the suffering doesn’t last forever.

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#46 – Dumbo – 1941

This film was made to recoup costs from Fantasia because Disney had almost sunk the studio with it. I remember enjoying this as a kid, but nothing except the song Baby Mine works for me. And it doesn’t help that they’ve got the jive-talkin crows (one of whom was named Jim). A little too racist for my liking. And the film as a whole just doesn’t work for me.

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#45 – Bolt – 2008

I was actually enjoying this film for a little while. Then there was a moment where the sassy black female cat says that all cats ever want is to be dogs. She says that to the masculine, macho, white, male dog. It really doesn’t sit well with me and it dropped the film from a 3 star to a 2.5 star.

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#44 – Brother Bear – 2003

The music isn’t as good as Tarzan, the story isn’t as good as Pocahontas or any of the other animal films, the supporting characters aren’t as good as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, or the Little Mermaid, and the tone feels mixed the whole way through.

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#43 – Dinosaur – 2000

I loved this movie when I was a kid but 13 years later it just doesn’t hold up. Some of the animation is good, but the story and the characters are just too simplistic to get it in the 3 star range. image

Sorry to leave on such a down list, but Disney definitely had ten stinkers. Next post we’ll get to the good films, I swear. 

The Best Slasher Film Since Saw

Cabin in the Woods – 2012 – dir. Drew Goddard

★★★.5/★★★★

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I gave up on Slasher films after Saw V. I know, I’m a bit weird for having stayed that long in and of itself, but that was definitely the point where I gave up on 2000s slasher and horror films because there was nothing new coming out of the mainstream industry as far as I could see. Around Oscar season this year I heard some of my favorite subversive critics talking about Cabin in the Woods as both a great Slasher film and a great parody thereof. After finally having seen it, there’s no doubt that its very good, but it doesn’t live up to the quality of Wes Craven’s Scream which is obviously wants to be.

The story is simple and familiar. Five friends go to a cabin in the woods for a “relaxing” weekend. One couple (an athlete and a cheerleader), one potential couple (a prude and an intellectual), and the conspiracy theorist friend finds their way into a creepy part of the house and unleash the evil spirits that start ripping them to shreds. All the while we have Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins sitting in an control room watching everything as it unfolds. There are cameras recording everything going on in the cabin and they are betting that… something will happen.

This intrigue is what keeps the first half of the movie interesting and makes the reveal fun. But once we know what’s coming (or more accurately see what has arrived), things slow down. The last half hour of the film is big and action filled, but after a few minutes I was craving more of the witty clever and genuinely scary action from the first hour.

This film is a breath of fresh air in terms of slasher films, but it does fall into some of the trappings that horror/action/adventure films have been doing lately. However, I think it’s clear that we need fans of horror to write and make horror because they know how to make it work. 

Man of Steel: Capsule Review

Man of Steel – 2013 – dir. Zach Snyder

 

★★★★/★★★★

 

A lot has been said about Man of Steel lately and the overarching theme has been one of ambivalence. Too much action, not enough heart. Just another Zach  Snyder film. If you want a general review go to Rotten Tomatoes or watch the What the Flick review on youtube. I, on the other hand, have to whole heartedly disagree with the sentiment because of one scene towards the end of the film. If you have not seen Man of Steel and are not a fan of spoilers I recommend you stop reading now because I will only be talking about the climax of the film below.

 

So, we have a lot of drama and mystery with Superman’s life for the first 2/3 of the film. Then they start a tonne of big budget action sequences between Superman and General Zod’s band of Kryptonian ruffians. Eventually it comes down to a one on one fight between Supes and Zod. Some seem to have seen this as just another big dumb action sequence, but I feel this was the critics getting lazy. The context of this scene is Zod and Supes being the last two Kryptonians alive in the universe. Zod has nothing to lose and Supes has pretty much everything to lose. The fight is an epic battle where Zod wants to push Superman to his limits and find the one thing that he won’t do (kill people). Eventually they land and Superman puts him in a choke hold trying to restrain him but Zod uses his heat vision to threaten a family trapped in a corner of the room. The emotion that Henry Cavill is able to produce as he considers letting the family die is powerful and when he eventually chooses to break Zod’s neck to save them he falls to the ground. Lois Lane arrives to comfort Superman who then screams in agony. He is now alone in the universe and it’s entirely his fault. The character development is brilliant and it matches the greatness found in Supeman 2’s conflicting nature. Man of Steel at times does over do the action, but to say that robs the film of its heart is a gross misrepresentation of the power this film has.