IRVYNE: Hello and goodbye! Here we are at last - the end of the "Year of Disney" project. Sure, it was supposed to be finished five months ago, but in that regard it's very much like my previous blog, the "Year of Retro Gaming" project: as the year went by, more and more entries were added, and the whole thing ended up taking a whole lot longer than originally intended.
Firstly I'd like to do a few thank yous. Thank you to my "team" who watched movies with me throughout the year. It's one thing to enjoy Disney, but it's something else entirely when you can watch it with friends and have very interesting conversations about it afterwards. Although a couple of members only contributed a little bit, I'm still very grateful.
Secondly, I'd like to give a shout-out to Disney Screencaps, who provided me with almost all of the caps that you've seen on the blog. Great website! If you ever need caps of Disney movies (as well as some others) that's the place to go! Thanks!
Thirdly, I'd like to thank the Walt Disney Company for making such fantastically entertaining films! While the quality of the films has come and gone (and come again) throughout the years, overall these are movies that I can watch over and over again.
Without further ado, here is my personal "faves" list...
First of all, my Top 20. Boy oh boy, it was difficult coming up with a Number 1, and I changed it about five times when I was putting the list together! In the end I went with Aladdin. It's a practically flawless movie. It's hilariously funny, beautifully animated, brilliantly paced and just good fun.
Hunchback was ALMOST my Number 1. (It certainly has been in the past) I love that Disney went dark; I love that it doesn't shy away from some of the more sinister aspects of Victor Hugo's story. It is one of the most visually stunning films in the entire Disney catalogue, and Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz's incredible score is one of my all-time favourites.
Beauty & the Beast and The Lion King are pretty predictable bets. Even though Beauty & the Beast has plot holes the size of the Beast's castle (which none of the villagers seem to know exists, even though they can walk to it in the space of an evening) it was a fantastic Broadway musical in animated form, with great characters and an amazing score. The Lion King is an interesting one. I didn't really like it that much when I first saw it. Now I love it for what it is, but it was quite different for its time. Something about the African music and themes of life and death really hit the spirit.
As for Tarzan, this is probably the least predictable of the Top 5. I feel that it's a film that has been somewhat forgotten over the years, but it really is brilliantly written, full of humour and heart. Even Phil Collins's montage songs are kinda great! A classic for sure. I only just realised that all of my Top 5 have been turned into stage musicals - must be my theatre background that makes me love them so much!
The rest you can see for yourself. It says a lot for the modern Disney output that Big Hero 6, Tangled and Frozen have rated so highly! There have been many heated discussions among us as to which is the better movie, Frozen or Tangled. It's clearly the latter, and everyone else is wrong. ;-p
IRVYNE: Here's my "middle-tier" Disney: films that I enjoy watching, but they're not my absolute favourites. It was hard to separate the two Winnie The Pooh films (and most of the lists show the same thing) since they are both so similar and similarly charming. I put the newer film higher though, mainly because it is a much more coherent single plot. (Remember, the original was actually three short movies strung together)
The reason the original Fantasia is lower than its sequel is simply due to length; the 1940 version had some absolutely brilliant segments (The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Dance of the Hours come to mind) but there were lots of really slow parts as well (Rite of Spring and Ave Maria, for example) which slow the experience down and drag it out to over two hours. The sequel was economical with its running time, and every segment is brilliant.
IRVYNE: And here we have the bottom end. Like with most of the others, a lot of the bottom is dedicated to the package films of the 1940s. You know what though? Even though they're down the bottom here and anyone would agree that they're not really that great, I still kind of enjoy watching them. The Three Caballeros is an absolutely bizarre trip of a movie in its second half. Even though Walt had most of his workers either striking or going off to war during that era, he kept innovating and kept entertaining his audiences. It's a shame that most of these films (along with The Black Cauldron) are the only ones in the catalogue not to have had a Blu Ray release.
Some Disney enthusiasts might be horrified to see that I've put The Jungle Book and Bambi so low on my list. After all, they're considered classics, and for good reason. Bambi is artistically stunning. I just find that its story and characters are very undercooked and a bit dull. The Jungle Book has some good songs, and it's a bit of fun, but I really cannot understand why some people ADORE it so much.
And of course, down the very bottom, we have the Disney dregs... At the start of the year I was actually quite sure Chicken Little would end up on the bottom. But while watching the movies this year, I came to two realisations: Chicken Little isn't QUITE as bad as I remembered (although it's still not a good movie by anyone's standards) and I found Dinosaur to be a whole lot WORSE than I remembered. What a wasted opportunity, with that brilliant opening sequence! It could have been something really groundbreaking in terms of story and character, but it is the most dull, cliche-ridden and boring story in Disney's history. Not only that, but after the first few minutes, all of the colour is sucked out of the film and it's all browns and greys until the very end. Dinosaur could have been something amazing, but as it is, I think it's best left forgotten. (In the U.K. it has been - over there they don't consider it an official Disney movie, which is interesting...)
So since the main crew has all ordered their movies, I wanted to take it one step further. (Those who know me will attest that I never like to do things in halves!) So I put everyone's scores into a spreadsheet. The highest ranked movie got 54 points and the lowest ranked movie got 1.
With this information, I could then add up the totals and calculate the average score, giving us an overall picture of which films we liked and which films we didn't! There was a clear overall winner (you can see it with gold numbers in the picture above) and a couple of clear losers, which shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone who's been reading the blog. Here's the final list, with the average score of each movie. (Remember, if everybody had the same favourite movie its number would be "54," and if everybody had the same movie at the bottom of their list, it would average out as "1.")
1 - Aladdin (50.5)
2 - Beauty and the Beast (48.9)
3 - The Little Mermaid (47.6)
4 - The Lion King (47)
5 - Big Hero 6 (46.3)
Isn't it interesting that four out of the Top Five are the classics from the Disney Renaissance of the 80s / 90s? The only one that's pushed its way in is the most recent film! We clearly think it's a keeper!
6 - Frozen (46.2)
7 - Tangled (45.2)
8 - Mulan (43.8)
9 - Wreck-It Ralph (42.8)
10 - Peter Pan (42.6)
Now we see three other more recent C.G.I. movies that have become instantly popular as well. Overall our group thinks Frozen is better than Tangled, by only one point! Madness! Meanwhile, Peter Pan is the most beloved of the Golden Era.
11 - Hercules (41.3)
12 - The Emperor's New Groove (41.1)
13 - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (39.6)
14 - Tarzan (37.8)
15 - Lilo & Stitch (36.9)
All of these five are from the late '90s / early '00s.
16 - Treasure Planet (36.4)
17 - Cinderella (35.6)
18 - Pocahontas (35.1)
19 - The Princess and the Frog (34.4)
20 - The Sword In The Stone
A very mixed bunch here, all from different eras. I'm sure Pocahontas and Tiana would love to be higher up on the list with their fellow princesses, but alas, it's not to be. Not on our list, anyway.
21 - Alice In Wonderland (32.6)
22 - Bolt (32)
23 - Sleeping Beauty (31.7)
24 - Lady and the Tramp (31.2)
25 - Pinocchio (30.1)
Mostly oldies here, except for Bolt. I would have thought Lady and the Tramp would score higher. Sleeping Beauty and Alice In Wonderland are acquired tastes. Some love them, some hate them.
26 - The Great Mouse Detective (29.3)
27 - Robin Hood (28.7)
28 - The Aristocats (27.9)
29 - The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (27.9)
30 - Meet The Robinsons (27.3)
Aside from Meet The Robinsons, these are all from the '70s and '80s, a period of trouble for the Disney company. In the opinion of our collective group, the original Winnie The Pooh beats out the newer one (though not by much...)
31 - Brother Bear (26.5)
32 - 101 Dalmatians (25.8)
33 - Winnie The Pooh (25.7)
34 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (25.3)
35 - Dumbo (25.2)
Another mixture from across different eras. Pinocchio beat out Snow White and Dumbo in popularity from the early years.
36 - The Jungle Book (25.1)
37 - The Rescuers Down Under (24.6)
38 - The Rescuers (24)
39 - Atlantis (23.9)
40 - Bambi (22.1)
Ooooohhh, this was a close thing! In the end our group chose the Rescuers sequel over the original, but only by 0.6 of a point!
41 - The Fox and the Hound (21.4)
42 - Oliver and Company (20.7)
43 - Fantasia 2000 (18.8)
44 - The Black Cauldron (18.3)
45 - Fantasia (17.8)
Another close call, but in the end the second Fantasia film beat out the first. I personally think the fact that these two movies are so far down the list is a TRAVESTY. They are masterpieces! Yet many people in our group just don't like them. How sad.
46 - Home On The Range (15)
47 - The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (13.6)
48 - Melody Time (7)
49 - Fun and Fancy Free (7)
50 - The Three Caballeros (4)
Now we're getting to the ones we really don't like! And, not surprisingly, we're seeing a lot of the 1940s package films.
51 - Saludos Amigos (3.8)
52 - Make Mine Music (3.7)
53 - Chicken Little (3.4)
54 - Dinosaur (2)
... And here we have the bottom of the bottom. I can't say I'm at all surprised by those bottom two. Compared to other kids' movies they might not look so bad, but compared to all of these Disney classics, they just don't hold up.
The next official Disney animated film is Zootopia, set to be released in March 2016.
Will it be as successful as the other recent Disneys? Only time will tell. Until then, keep wishing upon stars. Keep observing the circle of life. Keep looking after your Ohana. Thank you for being my guest. You ain't never had a friend like me!