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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.