Predator (1987)

Predator Movie Review

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Predator Movie Review

Predator is a 1987 science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is such a good, memorable action flick.

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You’re one ugly motherfucker!

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Predator Movie Review

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I loved that the film revolved around an Central American jungle as that was a very good, interesting setting for an action film. The plot is simple, but good. The men get taken down one by one by an extraterrestrial creature. Now the main reason why I really enjoyed the film lies in its structure. So it basically follows an action video game structure where you have a lot of the stealth elements, many fights and even with the full-on boss fight at the end. A very interesting choice that paid off significantly.

So let’s talk about the characters. They are the weakest part of Predator, I have to say. Very weak, underdeveloped and basically disposable. The protagonist is your typical Arnold Schwarzenegger macho guy and he is so underutilized and we do not learn anything about him. I liked how smart he is along with being physically strong, but still he was shallow even for the genre standards and I continue not being a fan of Arnold’s acting.

Carl Weathers is much better, but even his character is boring. Anna is memorable, but typical. I also liked Billy Sole and the film is interesting for being very diverse as it has two African Americans and even one Native American in its cast. Mac is the best of the bunch as a relatably scared member of the team and he got some really moving moments.

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Predator Movie Review

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But this is all about the Predator and he is the most unforgettable part of the film. I love this creature. Now the Xenomorph from ‘Alien’ is still much more original and even more formidable an opponent in my opinion, but Predator is interesting for being an extraterrestrial human and not an animal while also strongly relying on technology. His gadgets are a lot of fun and so well utilized, I liked his “ugly motherfucker” face and of course his vision is so great. All of the thermal sensor scenes were my favorites as they so effectively built up suspense.

Now Predator does have a less memorable first act, but the second and third ones are great. There is too much action here and not enough calmer moments, but still this is as great of an action film as they come as the action is exhilarating in quality and so perfectly executed almost in every scene.

The highlight is definitely the ending. It was a prolonged fight, but very well choreographed and very well thought out as the two tried to best each other with incredibly entertaining results. I loved how smart the protagonist’s tactics were, but still not too smart and the film ended really well. The action was also realistic as one Predator couldn’t have possibly killed all of these people and he did get hurt and eventually killed.

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Predator Movie Review

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The film is so well filmed and its jungle setting is a lot of fun and perfectly used for bigger suspense. I also thought that the film was mostly very lean and deft in direction and pacing. The score is also excellent, very effective and memorable. So I liked this movie much more upon my second viewing and it truly was a great start for the franchise and it gave us an unforgettable alien creature.

Predator has very weak and underutilized characters, but apart from that, it is actually as great of an action film as you can possibly get. The jungle setting is used to great effect, the score is memorable and the action sequences are so well thought out and all are a lot of fun and exhilarating in quality. Its action video game structure is interesting and the standout is of course the creature himself who is unforgettable and so well imagined with his look and his many gadgets and weapons.

My Rating – 4

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Don’t Look Now (1936)

Don't Look Now ReviewDon’t Look Now Review

Don’t Look Now is a 1936 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a solid flick.

So here Satan wants to ruin Valentine’s Day for romantic couples and it is up to Cupid to stop him. Now this is a solid premise. Familiar, but solid and it always leads to entertaining stories. This one is very well animated, but weakly scored. I liked the character designs of these two as they looked really good.

Now the film is fun, but not as fun as it should have been given the amusing premise. The voice acting is actually pretty good and there are some nice gags here, but not nearly enough and the film is ultimately forgettable which is a shame as it had all of the good ingredients to make it a classic.

Don’t Look Now has fun characters and premise, but an unfortunately weaker execution.

My Rating – 3.4

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Don’t Look Now (1973)

Don't Look Now Movie Review

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Don’t Look Now Movie Review

Don’t Look Now is a 1973 British horror film directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. It is such a strong, effective movie.

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This one who’s blind. She’s the one that can see

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Don't Look Now Movie Review

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It is about a grief-stricken couple who lose their child and go to Venice where the man begins to have visions of her and of his future. Having recently been to Venice, this movie was a really rewarding experience for me as it utilizes on the Venetian setting magnificently. Venice here is unlike any portrayal in any other film as it is creepy and filled with danger and ominous presence.

The movie features very strong drama about grief and it is an effective horror film. I disagree with the notion that it is a thriller because it has supernatural stuff, quick editing and a creepy twist that all belong to the horror genre. It could have been even scarier, but still the film features excellent atmosphere and a respectable final twist which is simply unforgettable. That entire final chase is so well filmed and it stole the show here.

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Don't Look Now Movie Review

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Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland are both superb in their roles. They gave excellent performances and in my opinion the relationship between the characters seemed honest and real and the troubles they go through are so well explored. I liked their conversations and the evident care for each other and I even did not mind their infamous sex scene. It may have been controversial in filming, but in the movie itself it is actually rather mild, at least in my opinion, and it serves its purpose at reestablishing the strength of their relationship.

Those two older women also serve the plot so well and are basically a plot device, but a strong one nonetheless with a couple of standout sequences. Of course the dwarf is unforgettable and very creepy and I really liked all of the supernatural scenes in the movie. The twist worked so well, it was well explained and in particular the scene where he sees his wife on the boat is the most unsettling and brilliantly crafted.

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Don't Look Now Movie Review

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So Don’t Look Now is excellent in its mystery and the ending explains it so well with a great use of quick editing. Sometimes the editing was too on-the-nose and there was too much cutting in the movie, but for the most part it did work well and the film did have that more urgent feel to it owing to that technique.

The use of the color red is familiar by this point and that point, but it was surprisingly effective and solidly used nonetheless. The cinematography is truly excellent and, as I said, Venice looks splendid. I loved seeing its different streets and canals explored here and they are put to great horror effect, especially the churches, the water and those smaller streets. Nicolas Roeg directed this movie magnificently and he is the man responsible for the overall competence of the film which is a further proof of how amazing 1973 was for horror with the likes of ‘The Wicker Man’ and ‘Leptirica’ as well.

Don’t Look Now utilizes its Venetian setting to amazing horror effect with wonderfully shot and superbly explored narrow streets and canals while also benefiting from an interesting editing technique and great ominous atmosphere. The performances from Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are excellent, the film is so well crafted across the board and its mystery is beautifully crafted and ending on a high note with such an effective, creepy twist.

My Rating – 4.5

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Boulevardier from the Bronx (1936)

Boulevardier from the Bronx ReviewBoulevardier from the Bronx Review

Boulevardier from the Bronx is a 1936 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is such a bland short.

Yes, this one is easily the worst Merry Melody so far and that was to be expected from a baseball cartoon. I dislike sports and particularly baseball so this one was immensely boring to me plus it didn’t really utilize on the sport all that well. It has way too much action and not enough memorable scenes or humor.

The film is solidly animated and I really liked the score too. It is famous for being the first Merry Melody to use the Merrily We Roll Along theme song, but other than that, the film should be forgotten as it is overlong, very tedious and also filled with annoying characters.

Boulevardier from the Bronx is a dull baseball short with too much action and annoying characters.

My Rating – 3

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Top Ten Disney Second Dark Age Characters

Disney’s Second Dark Age was very dark indeed as these films are, let’s say, not some of their best. In terms of characterization, they are much better than in either plot or music so this list should be pretty strong after all. So here are the ten best original characters that have arrived during this period.

                     

                          

10. Dr. Jumba and Pleakley

They are not hilarious really, but they are funny from time to time. This alien duo succeeds because of an infectious dynamic they share with each other. They are perfect comic reliefs from this film who never overstayed their welcome and thus they share this tenth spot.

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9. Kenai

We’ve seen this type of protagonist before who changes from selfish to selfless and caring throughout the runtime. However, Kenai is a really well realized character who transcends that familiarity to him. He is complex and memorable and his relationship with Koda is wonderful.

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8. John Silver

John Silver is the best character from Treasure Planet and the most complex out of the bunch. I loved his buddy/bromance relationship with Jim Hawkins and his shift to the good side was done really well as he never really totally changed and admirably stayed in the grey area.

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7. Lilo

Stitch is the more memorable part of this duo, but still Lilo is pretty good herself. She isn’t funny as she’s a straight character, but she’s better than most Disney protagonists as she is a relatable heroine and a very realistically depicted kid who is at times unlikable and at times likable.

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6. Bowler Hat Guy

This superb character from Meet the Robinsons isn’t really a villain by the time the film ends, but still that doesn’t matter as what we got from him is one amazing backstory which was superbly well written and highly moving in emotion. He’s complex and very memorable.

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5. Koda

Who doesn’t love Koda? He’s such an immensely cute, simply adorable bear cub, but as in the case of Lilo, he is also pretty unlikable at times and annoying as most kids can be. Thus he is realistic, his brotherly relationship with Kenai is beautiful and he truly is a character you root for from beginning to end.

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4. Kronk

Now admittedly Kronk is your typical overly dimwitted comic relief cartoon guy. However, he is better than most of his type thanks to Patrick Warburton’s top-notch voice performance and many hilarious lines that he got. His interactions with Yzma are so funny and his funniest scene is the devil/angel one which is hilarious.

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3. Stitch

Stitch is as classic of a Disney character as we got during this new century so far. I loved his dynamic with Lilo, I really admired how funny and yet gross he can be and the highlights are his voices and especially character design which is odd and highly authentic.

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2. Yzma

This old hag just had to be somewhere high on this list and this second place was perfect for her. Thin in structure and exceedingly ugly, she is different than most villains look, but what makes her great is her excellent voice, her personality and her relationship with Kronk which produced many of the funniest moments in the film. She is both a competent and a funny villain.

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1. Emperor Kuzco

So well developed, absolutely hilarious with his many perfectly delivered funny lines, well voiced and animated, Kuzco just had to be on top of this list as he is simply the greatest character from this decade of Disney films. His interactions with all three characters are excellent, but his wonderfully realized and fun buddy relationship with Pacha takes the cake as the best one. He is arrogant and unlikable at first, but consistently funny with his unforgettable one-liners and I just could not get enough of him in this already hilarious flick.

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Honorable Mentions:

Jim Hawkins – A pretty solid hero in Treasure Planet, Jim Hawkins is less memorable than John Silver, but likable and well developed nonetheless.

Mittens – Easily Bolt’s finest character, this cat is very realistically portrayed as cats go and I really liked both her personality and her look.

Alameda Slim – This underrated goofy villain from Home on the Range got some funny lines and one great, enormously entertaining song.

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Top Five Disney Second Dark Age Songs

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Top Five Disney Second Dark Age Songs

Disney’s Second Dark Age is easily the worst period for the studio not only in terms of the movies themselves, but even more so in terms of the scores and soundtracks as not one of these eleven films is a proper musical and some even have very few or downright no songs. That is why I decided to put together a list of the five best instead of ten songs as there just wasn’t enough to make a top ten this time around. So here we go.

 

5. I’m Still Here

This rock song from Treasure Planet is admittedly not my cup of tea as I prefer pop over rock. However, I cannot deny that it is original for a Disney movie to feature rock songs and this one is easily the better of the two in the movie as it is very catchy and with pretty good lyrics.

 

4. He Mele No Lilo

Now I do know that I am in the minority here as most prefer the other song from Lilo & Stitch, but I like this one better as it is much catchier and much more fun. It took me some time to learn all of the Hawaiian words but I eventually did it. I loved the use of that language here.

 

3. Yodle-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo

I really like this silly song! It is an underrated number in its own right. Now Home on the Range is a mediocre movie, but it does have a pretty solid country soundtrack and this country song is a more different Disney song with a great use of yodeling, funny lyrics and accompanied by good, trippy imagery. It is the greatest moment in the film for Alameda Slim.

 

2. On My Way

Most people really despise Phil Collins’ songs in Brother Bear, but just as the movie itself, I deem them pretty good and highly underrated. On My Way is the best of the bunch and although far from the quality of the songs from ‘Tarzan’, it is still the most recognizable, wonderful scene in the movie and this song is very catchy, sweet and just a lot of fun.

 

1. Little Wonders

A hugely underrated song from a very underrated movie, this Meet the Robinsons number is one of my favorite Disney songs for sure. I love it so much. Rob Thomas is the singer here and thus the song is different than your usual Disney ballad, but still it accompanies that beautiful final scene so well and the entire movie too as it features incredibly touching, powerful lyrics and the tune itself is pleasing and strong. It came from an unexpected movie, but it easily takes the number one spot for me here.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Look Through My Eyes – This is another strong, highly catchy and fun Brother Bear song that is also moving and strong in its lyrics.

Barking at the Moon – This song from Bolt is a surprisingly solid charmer with very good lyrics, an excellent use of the sound bark and accompanied by a wonderfully sweet sequence.

Little Patch of Heaven – This country number serves so well as the theme of the film. It is sung really well and it is immensely catchy and descriptive in quality.

Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride – Most people love this song the most from Lilo & Stitch, but even though I do like it and it is very catchy and fun, it is the lesser of the two in my opinion.

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Bomberman ’93 (1992)

Bomberman '93 Review

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Bomberman ’93 Review

Bomberman ’93 is a 1992 maze video game from the Bomberman series and published by Hudson Soft on the PC Engine. It is a pretty good, but far from great entry in the series.

Now I love the Bomberman series, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this early entry honestly. It is very flawed. Still pretty good and I give it a 4 rating, but that is a far cry from the best entries in the franchise. That is mostly because the game is too short and not particularly demanding and I am used to longer and more difficult gaming experiences so this one did not cut it for me.

Bomberman '93 Review

Once again it consists of single-player and multiplayer modes. Let’s talk about single-player. It is the better of the two modes and the more difficult one naturally. I really liked it as a whole even if it wasn’t all that hard or long. It is pretty long, but shorter than most Bomberman campaigns from this period in the franchise’s history.

So it has eight worlds comprised of eight levels and the eighth one is basically a boss battle. Now most of these worlds are not extremely memorable, but they were all pretty well designed and fun to play. And also solidly diverse in both setting and level design. As for the bosses, they were the highlights as they were much more difficult than the normal levels. Actually, the whole final world was very difficult and very competent in its A.I. But the final boss himself was superb as he needed to be beaten thrice and with all the different methods and it was quite interesting and in the end rewarding to finish him off.

Bomberman '93 Review

Bomberman ’93 has a pretty weak multiplayer. I guess I am too harsh to it as ‘Mega Bomberman’ spoiled me, but still this wasn’t up to par to the usually strong gameplay that the series provides. That is mostly because the A.I. opponents are just ridiculously easy to kill and thus you are much better off against the human opponents.

Another problem has to be that very annoying design to each of the areas. Now all of the areas have interesting, different settings and are well animated and I really liked them overall, but I thoroughly disliked those portal holes dispersed in each of the four angles on the screen. Those were only present in one area in ‘Mega Bomberman’, but here they are in every area and they get annoying pretty quickly.

Bomberman '93 Review

Now I am constantly referencing ‘Mega Bomberman’ in this review and that’s because that’s my personal favorite of all video games. However, one aspect that this amazing game owes to Bomberman ’93 is the score. Yes, here we are first introduced to that iconic score in both the title screen as well as the multiplayer mode. Very catchy, classic and a lot of fun, it fits the game perfectly and is the best thing that this game provided for the entire franchise.

It is very well animated and its graphics is admittedly not great, but pretty good and especially the character designs were expectedly excellent and wonderfully cartoony. The game looks and sounds good, but its storyline is very weak, even weaker than the usual for the platformer genre and that was not a big, but a small problem for sure.

Bomberman ’93 is a pretty good, but not great installment in the Bomberman series. It has a slight story, a weaker multiplayer mode and it is too short and easy to beat, but it looks good, it is very fun to play, most of the worlds and levels are very good and the score is particularly strong and influential for the franchise.

My Rating – 4

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L’Atalante (1934)

L'Atalante Movie Review

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L’Atalante Movie Review

L’Atalante is a 1934 French drama film directed by Jean Vigo and starring Michel Simon, Dita Parlo and Jean Daste. It is a solid, but highly overrated movie.

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Don’t you know you can see your beloved’s face in the water

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L'Atalante Movie Review

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This is another overrated French movie in the world filled with such titles. It obviously influenced the French New Wave and thus is important, but because I am not a fan of the aforementioned period, that hardly mattered to me. The film should have been much more romantic and is basically just a drama in the end which was a problem.

The story itself is very standard and although some parts are memorable, most of it was highly usual and the film moved too slowly and was slight overall in terms of storytelling and felt long even for its very short runtime.

Definitely the highlight is the underwater sequence which inspired Kusturica’s ‘Underground’. Another highlight is that erotic, sensual scene which is very original and progressive for its time. It is unlike any other scene in 1930s film and it thus needs to be respected.

The characters in L’Atalante are very dull and mostly far from memorable. They serve their purpose, but these three ultimately did not interest me personally and I was not invested in their story. I liked some of the conversations here as the dialogue was solid, but the film still needed more substance.

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L'Atalante Movie Review

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The visuals drive this French flick to much greater heights and again that is a testament to it being the forerunner of the French New Wave decades before it even started. Jean Vigo directed only two movies and made a name for himself in movie history. I wouldn’t go that far to call him great, but he did have a distinct and interesting style nonetheless.

As I said, the cinematography is stunning. The film is so well filmed and some shots are superb. I liked its setting so well and it is explored really well. The score is also quite solid and fitting in style to the plot. So the film sounds and looks excellent, but at its core it is pretty shallow.

L’Atalante is another overrated French movie with excellent cinematography, good score and some superb shots and a couple of very memorable, original sequences, but the film is slight in terms of characterization and storytelling and it was mostly boring even for its short runtime.

My Rating – 3.5

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Milk and Money (1936)

Milk and Money ReviewMilk and Money Review

Milk and Money is a 1936 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a very good, funny entry.

Tex Avery really made this thing work so well. This film is a textbook example of how to do a tired story right and make it anew in a way. Yes, the story where son and father have to get money or else their farm will be sold out is so cliched and the horse race part was also very typical, but still the gags are so great and the film flows really well that I mostly didn’t mind.

Porky is excellent here, very memorable. Mr. Viper the Snake is a very good villain with a hilarious name and I loved that snake walk gag. Hank Horsefly is the highlight here as he is the mix of a horse and fly and him hitting the horse in the butt to power him up and him following traffic regulations were both hilarious gags perfectly executed. I also adored the animation here, very high quality and the visual where Porky’s dad loses his hope and everything suddenly darkens is an incredibly authentic moment in the film. And the addition of the instrumental version of We’re in the Money is highly appreciated

Milk and Money is cliched in concept, but superb in execution with an exceptionally strong characterization, competent animation and many hilarious gags.

My Rating – 4.2

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Ranking Disney Second Dark Age Films

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Ranking Disney Second Dark Age Films

Disney’s Second Dark Age is by far the worst period that has ever happened to the studio. Most of these movies are just solid, none of them are truly great and only a couple are truly good and a couple are the only mediocre movies that Disney has produced. But even though this was a very uneven, weak and ultimately too different period for Disney, it still gave us a couple of really good movies. Here is my ranking of all eleven films from this very productive period in Disney history.

 

 

11. Chicken Little

By far the worst Disney movie of all time and their only film that got a rotten rating from me, Chicken Little truly is the black sheep of the entire studio’s output. Now the film isn’t terrible as it is pretty moving and fun at times, but for the majority of its runtime it is very uneven, it has two very different movies in it and those do not mash well together and the animation is easily the worst that Disney has ever put out.

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10. Home on the Range

Home on the Range is much better than ‘Chicken Little’ as it should prove a nice distraction for children, its characters are fun and the soundtrack is actually quite underrated with a couple of solid songs. However, the film is very garishly animated, it is awfully frenetic in pacing, aggressive in humor and non-existent in plot. It is one of the rare Disney films that only kids could properly enjoy.

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9. Dinosaur

Dinosaur is such a disappointing film. You have a great idea here, but it was executed pretty badly. I loved its beginning and it truly was epic and some scenes here are very ambitious in scope, but the movie is awfully dated in its CGI animation with pretty mediocre character design. Speaking of characters, they are quite bland and dull and the overall storyline is pretty boring and typical. It is probably the most tedious Disney film ever.

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8. Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis is another huge missed opportunity. I have a huge respect for Disney for venturing into this very ambitious anime-like project with a much more serious storytelling than usual. However, the end result is decidedly mixed as it has its epic moments and very stellar animation, but awfully forgettable characters and way too much action. It is a movie that should have been exciting and not sluggish and even boring at times.

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7. Bolt

Bolt is a movie for dog persons. If you love dogs, then you are bound to really enjoy it, but otherwise it can get on your nerves with a frustratingly annoying first act and a pretty generic plot as a whole. But the characters, especially sidekicks, are quite solid and the film is well animated and scored. It is nothing special and it is a very forgettable affair, but an enjoyable and fun one nonetheless.

Bolt Movie Review

 

6. Treasure Planet

Treasure Planet is yet another missed opportunity at making a great anime flick which was basically what Disney tried to do here. The animation is very strong and colorful, the mix of old and new in its story is very refreshing and the film benefits from such a strong relationship between Jim Hawkins and John Silver at its core. But it suffers from some pretty annoying sidekick characters, too much action and not enough substance and magic.

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5. Fantasia 2000

‘Fantasia’s pretty underrated, solid sequel is again an extremely uneven work with some segments that just do not work and are frustrating in their many flaws, but some such as Pomp and Circumstance and Rhapsody on Blue are quite inspired in terms of both animation and story. The film is ultimately a success with great segments overshadowing the lesser ones, but the film is undone by those cringe-worthy transitions with bad humor from its annoying comedians.

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4. Meet the Robinsons

The second most underrated film on this list is Meet the Robinsons which is such a pleasant, wonderful romp. It tries too hard with its eccentric characters and it is highly uneven in pacing and tone. But it is ultimately more than a solid effort and a different Disney film than usual with its very interesting and heartwarming futuristic tale. The score and animation are solid, but the Bowler Hat Guy and his story are the ones that really stand out.

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3. Lilo & Stitch

Lilo & Stitch is considered a minor classic for Disney and for many good reasons. It is a great tale of sisterhood that is heartwarming, but never overly sentimental. I loved its message and its painterly Hawaiian backgrounds are gorgeous. The soundtrack is also pretty stellar. But it is its very fun humor and its eponymous characters and their dynamic that really make it a respectable family film.

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2. Brother Bear

And yes, Brother Bear gets the second spot as Disney’s most shamefully underrated film from this period and quite possibly of all time. It is not without its flaws as the ending is too happy, but still this is one wonderful, truly touching story of brotherhood that really resonated with me on multiple levels. The humor is solid, Phil Collins’ songs are a lot of fun and the film juggles the fun with the dark really well. I really like it and I wish more people discover this gem.

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1. The Emperor’s New Groove

And the number one is easily taken by The Emperor’s New Groove which is the funniest Disney film of all time! There is a hilarious joke after joke, gag after gag literally from beginning to end here and it truly is a glorious laugh riot of a movie. But the reason why it ultimately works so well lies in its characterization which is off the roof strong. You have dimwitted and hilarious Kronk here, but you also have such a great villain in Yzma and of course one of the most entertaining protagonists ever in Emperor Kuzco. This infectiously dynamic, hysterical comedy was a different attempt from Disney that paid off stupendously leading to this period’s very best entry.

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