You really have to give credit to Disney studios. Starting with Snow White in the 1930's, they have carved an unforgettable path in film and animation, often being a major part of most of our lives as we grow up. From using the death of parents on film to help teach kids how to cope with loss, to addressing issues like gender and love, there is a uniformity to animated Disney films. You walk away from them feeling better about life. They just carry that Disney magic, and you carry it with you after seeing their films, too. But you can't help but notice it is the same Disney movies that seem to always get brought up when people discuss the studio. Lion King, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Frozen, to name a few. But there are certain animated Disney films that just didn't get the love of the some of the more well-known films, even though they deserved it. Here are seven Disney movies that just don't get the love they deserve.
1. The Black Cauldron
Of all the Disney animated films, this one was my favorite growing up, yet it seems like seven people saw it. Based on the book of the same name by Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron was awesome because it was darker than most of the stuff we were getting from Disney at that point. Just the Horned King as the main villain was enough of a selling point. Add to that the simple fact that he raised an army of the dead to fight for him and you realize this was the first Disney movie with zombies. Animated zombies at that, and years before they were popular. How did that not receive wide appeal is beyond me, and that will be a running theme of this list.
If you have not seen The Black Cauldron, you need to go find a copy, right now. It just proves Disney needs to do more fantasy stuff.
2. Robin Hood
Why is it when people talk animated Disney movies, no one talks about Robin Hood? The 1973 animated adaptation of the famous character that featured characters from OTHER Disney movies was awesome. Other characters from the Jungle Book, to be specific. Yes, it was like they went and got the cast of The Jungle Book to act in a play about Robin Hood. How cool is that, and why don't they do it more often?
On top of that, the music was some of the best ever featured in a Disney movie. Yes, I just said that, and here is the proof:
I can promise you that you will be singing (and whistling) that song for the next two weeks. Outside of that, though, the movie was wholly charming and well told rendition of the classic Robin Hood tale.
Okay, okay, so I can sort of understand why people were a little turned away from this one. It was a re-telling of Treasure Island, but with a sort of futuristic, steampunk feel to it. On top of that, it was one of the first times Disney mixed CG with actual hand drawings, and that threw some people off as well. But here is the kicker: it worked. It actually worked really well. The problem was, no one gave it a chance.
The whole catch with the steampunk vibe is the meshing of the old with the new, and that is exactly what they did in the execution of Treasure Planet as well. In that sense, me thinks this film was just a bit ahead of its time, matey. See it now and you'll see I'm right.
4. The Great Mouse Detective
At this point, we should be sensing a trend on the list. What do a lot of these under appreciated Disney movies have in common? They are re-tellings of tales from classic literature. We had Robin Hood and Treasure Island, and now we have a movie where they turn Sherlock Holmes into a mouse. Why that throws people off, I have no idea. Much like Robin Hood, The Great Mouse Detective does great justice to the source material, whilst also making it easy for kids to digest and enjoy.
Yet, you gather around a campfire with friends and bring up Disney movies, no one ever brings up The Great Mouse Detective. Maybe it is because the bad guy in that movie, Ratigan, was so darn scary.
Atlantis' problem may have been two-fold. One, it was not the typical Disney animated film, by any means. It was darker, the animation was very stylized (and melded with CG), and no one burst into lame songs. The second part of the perfect storm was that it was released right around the same time as Monsters Inc, and everything pales in comparison to that movie, so this one just kind of disappeared. But it shouldn't have. Atlantis, about the fabled sunken city, is an awesome and visually stunning Disney movie.
But, I have a challenge for you. I dare you to watch Atlantis and try to see all the things James Cameron will eventually "borrow" for Avatar. Not even kidding you. Atlantis is actually a very cool movie, and a brave direction for Disney to go. Not many saw it, but it made a lasting impression on those of us who did.
So Bolt had everything pointing in its favor. It was CG, which seemed to be the new go-to for Disney. It had cute, anthropomorphic animals, which was one of the Disney's biggest assets, and it was funny and fun. So why, when so many Disney films were becoming huge, epic successes, does no one remember Bolt? It was a movie about an acting dog who plays a super hero on TV and seems to think he is a super hero in real life. What is there not to love?
Well, I can tell you what happened.
They released Wall-E the same year. Yeah, you really can't touch Wall-E. That is animated cinema at its finest.
7. The Princess and the Frog
Again, we have a classic story, retold and modernized. Here, though, it seemed Disney was making some awesome changes and did not get enough credit for it. For one, they went back to old-school, hand animation (which was a nice throw back to Disney films of yesteryear), and two, they finally made an African-American princess (which seemed a move many thought they should have done earlier, yet hadn't up to that point).
But perhaps all of that was TOO modern for the modern audience, as the film came and went with barely a whimper. It should also be known, as with most under-appreciated Disney movies, the villain in The Princess and the Frog was about as creepy and awesome as Disney villains came. Dr. Facilier was the man, as proven by this song:
So if you have not seen any of these seven Disney films, go out and give them more love. They may not all have singing princesses, but they all have their own little piece of Disney magic that should be experienced by all.
(All images credit: Walt Disney Studios)