Before John Lasseter took over, Disney was suffering a dark age where none of their movies were critical or commercial successes. But now, nostalgia’s finally on their team, and they’re back with a new Renaissance filled with catchy songs and dancing princesses – or, as they themselves call it, the Disney Revival Era.
And while Moana’s making waves at the box office, I thought I’d celebrate how far they’ve come by ranking the Revival movies from least best to best. Why least best? Because none of this movies deserve to be called worst. That’s like saying The Rescuers Down Under is the least awful Disney sequel.
8.) The Princess and the Frog
The Princess and the Frog was the first of the Disney Revival Era movies (though people love to debate that or Bolt), and quite fittingly, the least memorable.
Don’t get me wrong – I do like this movie. I remember having fun watching it. The characters are pretty great, especially Tiana and Prince Naveen. But compared to the rest of the Revival movies, this one’s just kind of…forgettable?
I kind of have to remind myself that this movie exists. I don’t remember any of the songs at all, while I can still sing Tangled’s I See The Light even if I haven’t seen the movie in a while. I certainly don’t hate this movie, and I get why some people absolutely love it, but eh, it’s my least favorite of all the Revival movies.
7.) Winnie the Pooh
This movie is short. Like, really short. Almost makes you wonder if it was worth the admission price. But it does a lot with its running time, providing a fun, whimsical movie filled with characters you know and love. I guess the reason why it ranks low on this list is because of how lightweight the story is, especially when compared how grand the rest are.
Winnie the Pooh is the Revival’s first, and so far, only, movie that wasn’t a box office success, and as to why that was, I’m guessing it was because of two things. One, it was competing against Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Two, until now some people don’t even realize it exists. It’s still a movie worth watching, though, especially if you grew up loving the Hundred Acre Wood gang.
Tangled is far from Disney’s best film, and honestly I have some problems with it, but for what it is, I do love it. The songs are nice. (I especially like I See The Light.) The romance is nice. And the movie’s actually pretty funny. Some of the scenes had me laughing pretty hard.
This movie reminds me a lot of The Little Mermaid. The boat ride, the protagonist who wants to see the world, even the animal sidekick reminds me of Flounder. So while Tangled’s not in the running to being my favorite, it’s still a movie that I love rewatching – that good ol’ Disney magic is still there.
5.) Big Hero 6
Can I just come out and say it? This movie’s predictable. I know Disney’s really fond of their plot twists but at least those managed to surprise me a bit. This one didn’t surprise me at all. I knew exactly what was going to happen from beginning to end. But that’s not always a bad thing. As my favorite reviewer Jeremy Jahns says, it’s not about the ending, it’s about the journey to.
And for the journey to, this movie’s actually pretty great. It’s definitely the funniest out of the Revival movies. The characters are all likable. But where this movie really shines is how heartwarming it is. Damn, this movie tugs at your heartstrings. And being the big baby I am, I cried.
“Hiro, I will always be with you.” If that line didn’t make you cry, I don’t want anything to do with you.
4.) Wreck-it Ralph
When Wreck-it Ralph was in its early development stages, the main character was supposed to be Fix-it Felix, and I’m so glad it’s not. I do love Felix, but then it would’ve been another movie about the good guy being rewarded for being good. Not very refreshing.
Here’s the thing: I believe everyone can relate to this movie. Everyone’s felt like Ralph at a certain point of their lives. Maybe you even feel like Ralph right now. You feel neglected. You feel lonely. You feel like you aren’t worth anything and that the whole world is against you. This is one of those movies where the “love yourself” message feels earned, because Ralph actually has reasons not to love himself, and has to overcome these obstacles in order to.
I still remember the first time I watched Frozen. Vuelie played and I was immediately transported from the cinema to the land of Arendelle. The movie just kept getting better and better, and the music just kept getting better and better, and I didn’t want any of it to end. Safe to say, I was kind of addicted to Frozen for a couple of weeks after watching it.
There’s something that’s just so magical about this film. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s the characters. Maybe it’s a combination of both of that and much more. Whatever it is, Frozen was the first of the Disney Revival Era movies that made me feel like I was watching a Disney classic.
Maybe it’s the high of just having seen this movie that I put it so high on the list, but I really, really liked this movie. Boy, was I wary of this one. Not because I thought it was going to be bad or anything. But Walt Disney Animation Studios releasing two films in a year? That didn’t work out so well for Pixar. But surprise, surprise – I really, REALLY liked this movie.
The best part of Moana is, well, Moana. Moana actually feels like a real protagonist. She doubts herself, she makes mistakes, and she develops as a character. You really feel her developing and growing throughout the movie. Also, as someone who’s maybe going through something like what she’s going through, it’s nice to see her get through it and learn to accept herself. (Though I may be a bit biased.)
Zootopia is Disney’s highest rated animated film, and rightfully so. Damn, did this movie surprise me. I’m pretty sure it surprised a lot of people. What was obviously going to be another fun anthropomorphic movie suddenly became a movie about prejudice, acceptance, and discrimination. Seriously, this movie couldn’t have come at a better time.
Also, can we just talk about how great of a character Judy Hopps is? I know everyone loves Nick Wilde, but here we finally have a character that dreams big despite the prejudice against her and actually works hard in order to achieve it. And she’s not perfect, either. She makes mistakes, big ones, and apologizes for it. An Anti-Cinderella, if you will. I love her so much. I want her as our president.
And there they are. The Disney Revival Era's bound to end, like all good things, but while it lasts, better enjoy it. It's definitely worth enjoying.