Top 5 Disney Movies

Posted on February 4, 2011. Filed under: Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

That’s right folks, it’s another Top 5.

With the release of Tangled, critics are going wild telling us that Disney is finally “back on form,” but what exactly is Disney’s “form?”  When you think about it, and discard the Pixar movies, it’s been a long time since anything worth getting excited about came from the world’s most famous animation studio.  A lot of fuss was made over The Princess and the Frog but it didn’t seem to come to much, and before that we had such shockers as Atlantis to contend with.  It seems in recent years, Disney has been left behind while other studios, namely Pixar and Dreamworks, tapped into the new world of animation, where there is just as much for the adults as there is for the kids.  It’s not something Disney haven’t managed before, but they seem to have lost their way somewhere.   From what I’ve heard about Tangled (and hopefully I’ll be able to back it up soon) they’ve finally got themselves back on track.

If Disney has finally recaptured the magic, what are the movies we’re holding this latest offering up against?  Here are my Top 5 Disney animations, the best of the cartoons that captured mine and many thousands of other people’s childhoods.  Coming up with this list has actually been incredibly hard.  It’s animations only, so no Pirates, but it’s been harder than I thought picking just five films from the vast back catalogue.  The number one spot was easy, but narrowing down all my other childhood (and adulthood) favourites to just four spaces was tough.  Knowing me, I’ll probably want to change it tomorrow.

5. Lilo and Stitch

This is an incredibly underappreciated film, but it’s one of the best ones they’ve brought out in recent years.  The characters are surprisingly realistic (I’m not talking about the aliens, obviously!) and it takes on some pretty tough issues with the kind of honesty that kids have grown to love in Disney.  It also helps that it has a fun script and some great music, mixing Hawaiian tradition with Elvis classics.

4. Mulan

One of the school of Disney films that used a big name in comedy to inject some energy into the script.  Eddie Murphy’s Mushu is perhaps now overshadowed by his Donkey (which sounds weird…) but the former character provides some great laugh out loud moments that I still find myself quoting on a regular basis.  Music is another big factor in this movie, as it is in all of the Disney films since they are essentially animated musicals, with Donny Osmond lending his vocal chords to Shang (bet you didn’t know that did you?) Moments of intense drama are interspersed with show stopping musical numbers and comedy that the whole family can enjoy.

3.  Robin Hood

When I was little, my three Disney loves were Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp and Robin Hood. Trying to pick which one to include was torturous, but in the end I had to pick Robin Hood as it’s one of the first films I can remember watching over and over again and never getting bored.  Casting the famous legend amongst a group of woodland animals is brilliant in a way that you don’t even notice until you get older.  Robin as a fox is a natural, but I also love Little John as a bear (voiced by the equally legendary Phil Harris) and Prince John as an immature Lion, shown up by his full maned older brother.

More great music. More big laughs. Pure Disney magic.

2. Aladdin

This was in my top spot film for two years until the film below came along.  Robin Williams makes this movie.  The genie is an iconic character and the improvised script (also found at the beginning: “it will not break! It will not break……it broke) is full of comedy that both the kids and their parents can enjoy.  Aladdin has also given us one of the classic songs in the Disney songbook: A Whole New World and, along with Beauty and the Beast, was one of the first animations to use computer graphics in some scenes.

1. The Lion King

There really is no better Disney animation than The Lion King. They really hit on a masterpiece here.  The story is compelling and full of heart, the animation is beautiful (the opening sequence is one of the best bits of animation I’ve seen) and the music is just stunning.  Everything about The Lion King works.  Seeing it for the first time in the cinema is one of my clearest early memories, and I love it just as much today.  It’s not just my favourite DIsney film, but it’s one of my favourite films of all time, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 23 so far )

Movies that couldn’t survive without their lead actor

Posted on July 25, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Some movie characters are iconic.  In some cases the reason for that is more to do with the actor playing the role than the character itself.  There will always be parts that you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing, but arguably some characters are so wrapped up in the identity of the actor that they would be entirely different with someone else in the costume.

The character who I think fulfils this most of all is Captain Jack Sparrow.  Just try to imagine any other actor playing that role.  Can’t do it can you?

Legend has it that Johnny Depp turned up to the audition in that costume, complete with make up, accent and real gold teeth.  Without Sparrow there is no Pirates of the Caribbean and I would argue without Depp there is no Sparrow.  The movie was a real risk-taker, with the appeal of pirate movies long dead and many people  wondering if a film based on a little known ride, made by Disney but not strictly for kids, could make it. Then Jack staggered on to the screen and everyone was hooked.  The whole movie hinges on that one iconic character; a point backed up by the fact that he is the only returner (except Gibbs) in the upcoming fourth movie.  Sparrow is now as famous, if not more so, than Long John Silver or Captain Hook and I really don’t think the movies would have done even half as well without Depp at the helm (bad pun not entirely intended).

Another character who I think is intertwined with the actor playing it is Iron Man.  He basically is Robert Downey Jr.  When he was announced as the man stepping into the suit it seemed a strange choice but it’s turned out to be a career defining role.  I’m not saying that no one else could play Iron Man, because I can think of a few other people who probably could, but I think the characterisation would be very different, as the writers have clearly put a lot of RDJ into Stark.

It’s not just faces on screen either.  Imagine Disney’s Aladdin without Robin Williams voicing the genie.  Doesn’t work does it?  And I’d put a strong case for the fact that Woody and Tom Hanks fit so well together that Toy Story would be a different movie without him.

Pretty much anything in Jim Carrey’s early career is entirely dependent on him too.  Obviously a lot of that is down to parts being written for him, but can you really picture Ace Ventura or The Mask in the hands of someone else?

There is only one incidence I can think of where the same character played by two different actors has an equal impact on the movie, and that’s The Joker.  Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman completely owned the movie and was put down as the definitive Joker.  Or so we thought. Fast forward 19 years and Heath Ledger brings something completely new to the table which has audiences and critics alike lost for words playing a huge part in the success of The Dark Knight.

Usually we think of movies as making or breaking the career of actors, but it works both ways.  One  performance can lift a mediocre movie to a whole new level, or just as easily bring it crashing down.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...