Hello everyone. Another Disney user has requested me to express my opinions on the Disney Renaissance films. As most people know, Disney was kind of struggling with animation after Walt Disney's death. Most films afterward except Black Cauldron were competent box office successes, but not as big as films like Lady and the Tramp or The Jungle Book. Disney had a few bright spot hits such as The Rescuers and The Great Mouse Detective, but the Disney Renaissance films had brought a new era of Disney Animation. So let's begin.
The Little Mermaid
The first major film of the Disney Renaissance was The Little Mermaid, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker the same directors who directed The Great Mouse Detective, my favorite Disney film whose moderate success was responsible for the Disney Renaissance. Walt Disney tried to adapt this film earlier, but apparently couldn't. The Little Mermaid was a big office hit and won a couple of Academy Awards. As I mentioned before in my comments on The Little Mermaid page and on my TV show blog, I wasn't a huge fan of this film growing up. This was back when I thought princess movies were for girls by rule. But as I got older, I thought it was kind of enjoyable. I was scared of King Triton destroying the grotto, but I'm over that now. Ariel is hot, determined, and a step up from the past Disney princesses. She doesn't just wait, she follows her determination to have her dreams come true. Now there is controversy that Ariel is a bad role model for girls, but I didn't really agree with that. Flounder is good comic relief and Sebastian is funny too. His role is similar to Jiminy Cricket and Bagheera. He gets grumpy at times, but he deeply cares for Ariel by the end, making it kind of a fun adventure. Ariel and Eric's romance is unique enough to be memorable. They don't just marry for looks, they actually learn to care about each other, by the climax. That's all I have to say about Little Mermaid.
The Rescuers Down Under
As I mentioned before, The Rescuers Down Under is one of my 2 top favorite Disney Renaissance films. But sadly, this one often gets overlooked because of its (*annoyed sigh) box office results. I think by the time Little Mermaid had become a hit, The Rescuers Down Under was already close to being completed and people just had to go with what they got. This is one of those films where I don't care about box office results, critical reception, or Academy Award nominations. Besides, The Rescuers Down Under didn't bomb, it just wasn't a big hit like Little Mermaid, and it did get favorable reviews and no one seems to consider it the worst film of the Disney Renaissance. Bernard and Bianca are back for an awesome action packed adventure and they add some comedic side characters as well. Wilbur is a better albatross than Orville and his voice actor John Candy does well. Frank is hilarious too and even Joanna the lizard gets laughs, especially when stealing eggs from McLeach. And speaking of which, he's a pretty good villain too. My biggest praise is how Bernard gets to be the hero in the end; fighting Joanna and risking his life to save Cody when the others are trapped, it's just awesome! The flight scenes are beautiful, and it was one of the wonders of the CAPS animation that the studio was trying to use. I do wish the side characters like the bait mouse or Frank would re-appear, but as I commented before, if Frank could pick the lock once he could do it again. Overall, I think The Rescuers Down Under is a very good Disney sequel film.And let's not forget that Mickey Mouse featurete before it, The Prince and the Pauper. That's real effort. I hope this movie can be appreciated more, because it's a good Disney Renaissance gem.
Beauty and the Beast
And now we come to most Disney fans' favorite Disney film-Beauty and the Beast! People fell in love with this movie to the point where it got a Best Picture nomination, a remarkable moment in Animation history. Me...um, well, as I commented before, I was not a fan of this movie growing up. I thought it was the 2nd scariest Disney film in my life (I'll get to the first next) mainly because of the creepy prologue and Beast screaming at Belle to leave the West Wing and I thought the animation was more for adults than kids. But once I grew up, I conquered my fears and was able to see why people love this movie. The romance between Belle and Beast is perfect-they learn to love each other for who they are and overlook the appearances. The music is soothing, entertaining, and just enchanting. I like the "Belle" song, "Be Our Guest" and the ballroom "Beauty and the Beast song". Those songs really sparkle. The side characters are totally memorable. Viewers get a kind french candle named Lumiere, a grumpy majordomo clock named Cogsworth, a motherly teapot named Mrs. Potts, her cutesy son Chip, and more. The villain Gaston is a realistic villain because he doesn't start of evil, he just starts off as an arrogant jerk. He reminds me a lot of Ratigan-his arrogance gets in over his head to the point where he sings about his glorious self. "The Mob Song" is cool too, infact it is hard for me to listen to it without seeing the fight to the end. The score is beautiful and one of Disney's best. Belle is one of the greatest Disney heroines ever. I've even compared her to my favorite animated heroine Casey Kelp from Snorks. Belle is beautiful on the outside, yet brave and kind-hearted on the inside. She never shows off and always stands up to those who try to put her down. I think she's awesome! What else can I say? Beauty and the Beast is thought of one of Disney's best for good reasons.
Remember when I said Beauty and the Beast was my 2nd scariest Disney movie as a child? Well...Aladdin was the first. Why? Because of the Cave of Wonders! Ugghoooh! That thing scared me to pieces as a kid! The idea of going inside a talking cave that was willing to kill anyone it hated was terrifying and shuddering! Not to mention that cave-in scene! The more I saw the Cave of Wonders, the quicker I just wanted to turn the movie off!
But I will admit, similar to Beauty and the Beast, I managed to conquer my fear. I still think the Cave of Wonders is creepy, but I was able to see the good in this movie, though Aladdin is still not one of my personal favorite Disney films, I just consider it okay. Genie is the movie's biggest highlight, morphing into all kinds of wacky things, even stuff that have not been invented yet. Robin Williams does a very good job voicing him. I also like Abu the monkey. He's an excellent michevious sidekick. Jasmine is also another strong hot brave Disney heroine, not willing to wait for a rescue. Rajah is a great tiger too, infact I like to joke how jealous I am that Jasmine has a pet tiger and I don't. Iago is a great loud character, and I like his voice actor Gilbert Godfried. Friend like me is a very entertaining song, and A Whole New World is beautifully enchanting. Aladdin and Jasmine's romance works well because Aladdin feels sorry for Jasmine and truly wants to help her out. Jafar is a cool villain and his voice actor Jonathon Freeman does great! Aside from my bad childhood with this movie, Aladdin holds up fairly well with being a Disney hit that enchants its audience.
The Lion King
Oh yeah! The highest grossing 2-D film of the Disney Renaissance and another Disney hit people fell in love with! This, along with The Rescuers Down Under is my favorite Disney Renaissance film. I've praised this film before in my favorite Disney Classics countdown so I won't say too much that I've said before. I liked how this film had no humans and was all focused on the exotic African wilderness. It was epic, it was cultural, it was musical, it was just awesome! "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" was a fun song and "Be Prepared" was a catchy villain song, and the other songs are good in their own ways. Timon and Pumbaa make a great comedic duo and the Hungry Hyenas have great food puns. The Lion King is just the Circle of Life of Disney Animation. It was also one of the Disney Renaissance's best films ever!
Sadly though, for every Lion King, there's a Pocahontas. In other words, Pocahontas began ANOTHER decline in Disney Animation despite it being part of the Renaissance, and one of the reasons why people started switching to CGI animated films. I din't think this film was that bad, but nothing about it begged me to consider a classic. I give the studio credit for trying something new, but they should have done something for adults AND kids. This was their first animated film to be based on history, and a very serious story. Because of that, Pocahontas is not really that interesting a character. She complains that Kocoum never smiles, yet Pocahontas is a serious character who isn't a lot of fun. That's why I consider her my least favorite Disney Princess. The villain is totally boring and forgettable. He's a typical greedy villain who wants riches-nothing stands out about him and all and people were supposed to somehow care about him. The story has another sad mature ending involving a forbidden connection, kind of like The Fox and the Hound, though I don't think Pocahontas is as bad as The Fox and the Hound, there is some entertainment that redeems this film for a little bit. For example, Percy constantly trying to get Meeko until Grandmother Willow forces them to get along. I wish the movie was more about them. Another problem is, I watched the Nostalgia Critic's Disneycember review of this movie and he said that talking animals would make sense since this movie is about communicating with nature. Yeah, I totally agreed with him! Talking animals would have made this film way more entertaining than what it is! All in all, Pocahontas is no the worst Disney film ever, but it's easy to see why it was a critical failure. It's not developed, the story is too mature and sad, and there is little to no comedy. It was a fair box office success and it did win some awards for Colors of the Wind, but it was less enjoyed than the earlier Renaissance films. I'd personally prefer to go back to The Lion King.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hunchback didn't gross anymore money at the box office than Pocahontas, but it did get better reviews. And what do I think of it?.....Eh, it's fine from an adult's point of view, but it's not a Disney film I really enjoy. It's another "Don't judge a book by its cover" movie and the tone is WAY more for adults than Pocahontas. Frollo is a really dark villain who has little to no sense of humor. It's really uncomfortable how he keeps Quasimodo in the bell tower, and the stuff about religion is not very appropriate for kids, especially when the fiery H place is mentioned and Quasimodo says the D word. Esmerelda brings joy into the movie by showing kindness towards Quasimodo, and I kind of like how Phoebus has a wry sense of humor. If I had to pick one highlight, it would be the gargoyles. They're not the best comic relief, but they brighten up the movie pretty well, especially because Quasimodo had no other friends. Other than that, there's not much for me to say. If you like mature "don't judge a book by its cover" movies, you may like this. If not, it's not terrible, it's just not that family-friendly. Not one of my personal favorites.
I am not really a fan of the post-Lion King Disney Renaissance films, but Hercules is one of my two exceptions. Why? It's just a lot of fun! It's got another modern comedy thrown back in time, the characters are enjoyable, and it plays off the Greek Mythology stuff very well. Hercules is a pretty cool handsome hunk and I like his fights with the centaur and the Hydra. Those are heroic battles done right. Phil is a pretty cool trainer too especially because of his temper, given to him by none other than Danny DeVito. His "two words" line gets a laugh and his rules are funny too. And speaking of comedy, Hades is a great villain too! He talks more like a lawyer or an agent, as opposed to a dark creepy villain like Jafar or Scar. And even better, he's voiced by James Woods one of the best comedian actors ever! Meg is hot and she is pretty sassy, but in time I find her more likable. She learns to love Hercules despite her bad past with boys. Pain and Panic are great sidekicks. They are among the first Disney henchman to come to my mind, along with Lefou or Fidget. I like how they shift shape into whatever they want and how they always mess up their master's plan. Overall, Hercules is really fun and really delightful. I say it is totally worth checking out. Find it on DVD, Blu-ray, or ITunes and see for yourself.
Remember when I said there were 2 post-Lion King Renaissance films I liked? Well, Mulan is the other one. This is actually my cousin's favorite Disney movie. I don't like the sexist cruelty of this movie, but there are plenty of good things about it too. Where do I begin? Well, the visual Chinese culture and music is very facinating. Mulan is a great heroine too. Her design is great, her clumsy rebellious personality makes her very memorable, and one of the few Disney princesses who physically fight back. Mushu is a great sidekick too, especially because of his voice actor Eddie Murphy who is mostly known for voicing Donkey from Shrek. Cri-Kee is a cute cricket too, and as he partners up with Mushu, they make another memorable Disney duo. Yao, Ling, and Po are a funny trio too. Another Disney user thought of them as "Chinese Three Stooges" and I thought he was right. They try to act tough but fail in Shang's perspective physically. Only when they help Mulan defeat Shan-Yu do they really prove themselves! Shan-Yu is also a pretty cool dark villain. I like his dark jokes...uh, well the idea of them, anyway. Mulan shows us bravery, why sexism is bad, and of course, why you should be yourself.
Ugh. Let's get this overwith. Here's the last film of the Disney Renaissance film, Tarzan. It was the only real big Disney hit since Lion King. But for me, this movie is a dud. It's on par with The Fox and the Hound and Lilo and Stitch as one of my least favorite Disney films. I mentioned in my Pixar review that this film was over-advertised, over popular, and I was forced to watch it way too many times to the point where I really didn't like it, much like Toy Story 2. This movie is lame and typical. There's a handsome hero who starts off as an outcast, falls in love, and becomes the hero in the end (haven't seen that before right HERCULES?). The environment feels too heavy and dramatic. And even worse, the songs are sung by Phil Collins as opposed to the characters singing musical numbers such as Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast. I don't like Phil Collin's singing or any of the songs. Well okay, I admit Trashing the Camp is a fair highlight but not enough to save the movie. Tarzan himself is not that memorable. He's a typical handsome hero who is nice and always saves the day, but his design looks serious. Jane is not that interesting a character either; she's a typical British lady from the 1800's whose British accent fades out for me too quickly. Terk is a weak comedian and even her voice isn't all that funny. If I had to pick one highlight, it would be Tantor the elephant. He's the only character I ever liked from this film. He constantly supports Tarzan and his scaredy-cat personality gets a laugh. But my biggest problem with this movie is Kerchak. I really do not like that guy. He's a typical serious leader who is very mean to Tarzan just because he is different, and you rarely see how good-hearted he really is. He doesn't even have a sarcastic side which would make him much more interesting. Kerchak just ruined the film for me. I might sound mean for saying this, but I was actually glad he died. Another one of my biggest problems is the "torn between two sides" element, which I really despise because it is very hard to choose between two things you love. Like I said, Tarzan is definitely one of my least favorite Disney films. As Disney jungle films go, I don't think it has the same charm as The Jungle Book or The Lion King. If you like this movie, good for you. But I'd prefer to skip this one.
And that was my review on the Disney Renaissance films. I may not be the biggest fan of the Disney Renaissance, but that doesn't mean other people can't be. Please don't be too offended if you disagree with me, these are just my own opinions. What about yours'?