Monday, July 7, 2014

Top 5 and Bottom 5 Disney Sequels

Please excuse the sudden hiatus I've been on. I've had essays piled on me and just fought my way through 3/4 of them with about 75% of the 4th one left. In my spare time, I've been compiling two new lists instead of reviews because I haven't had time to watch films recently (well, films I haven't already reviewed) so let's take a look at my first list. This is my first list, outside of Top 10 films of the year, to be about film since my last one was TV related as is the one after this.

A good friend of mine recently uploaded his Top Ten Episodes of Game of Thrones on his blog dubbed Incoherent Clarity which got me thinking about my text Top Ten list. I was unsure about what to pick however, on my daily medley of Disney songs, it dawned on me. Disney Sequels are always fun to debate because...they're mostly terrible. I therefore put in upon myself to bring you five Disney sequels that are actually worth watching and also the main five you should avoid at all cost!

I would also like to verify that this is strictly focusing on the animated films. If I didn't do that then Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End would already be at the top (seriously I still don't understand the hate to that film) and it also allows us to delve deep into the dark depths of Disney's vault...and bin. These are my picks of Disney's Top 5 and Bottom 5 sequels. This is going to be fun...

Top 5

5. An Extremely Goofy Movie
The weird thing about An Extremely Goofy Movie is that I wasn't even aware of its existence until a few years ago. Growing up, I was a huge fan of A Goofy Movie but I was skeptical upon learning that there is a follow up. I'm glad to say that it holds up very well by keeping what made the first film strong as its focus. The relationship between Goofy and his son Max was always what had be most invested so seeing it continue on into University life made for a surprisingly decent film. I just feel that Monsters University nailed the moral about lie at University much better.

4. The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride
Disney is first and full most an animation company so the quality of the animation in their feature films are one of the most important aspects. That being said, many Disney sequels skimp on the animation just to make a quick buck (someone Planes managed it) however this isn't the case with The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. While not as colourful or fluid looking as the first one, it looks very good for a Disney sequel and continuing the trend of Shakespeare by having this one based on Romeo and Juliet wasn't a bad idea either. Catchy song, memorable new characters and nice animation, this one does well although it does feel a bit too pandering for my tastes.

3. The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata
So if The Lion King is based on 'Hamlet' and The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride is based on 'Romeo and Juliet', then what is the third film in the series based on? 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead'. Okay, not officially but, let's face it, it is. Acting as a retelling of the first film from the perspective of Timon and Pumba who are still my favourite characters from the first film ever since I was a kid. Maybe you can chalk this one up to bias but, in addition to some surprisingly nice animation (especially for direct-to-video standards), it does capture what it was I liked about the duo. Sure, it relies on fourth wall gags but they do make them work.

2. Rescuers Down Under
The only film on this list to actually be stamped as part of the official Disney film line-up, The Ruscuers Down Under is also the only film on this list to be better than the original. Actually, it's infinitely better. The original Rescuers was boring, life-less and not interesting in the slightest. Down Under ups the ante to deliver an action packed, beautifully animated romp. The old characters are made much more interesting and the new ones offer for a fun and enjoyable ride. The cast also consists of the amazing John Candy (who NEEDED to be in a Disney film) and George C. Scott who brings us another great Disney villain. Definitely worthy of being labelled a Disney classic.

1. Aladdin and the King of Thieves
They got Robin Williams back. I think that should set the record straight. In all seriousness, Aladdin and the King of Thieves could have been released in theatres if they put more budget into the animation. The new characters fit in perfectly into the established Aladdin lore with some actually good actors such as John Rhys-Davis and Jerry Orbach added to the cast. The story is as engaging, if not more, than the original's and has a damn good soundtrack too. I remember all the songs in this film and, in fact, most of the dialogue. It's one of those films I know inside and out. Maybe it's just bias but who knows. You can always tell it's good when not only do they get the full original cast back (minus dead ones), but they put the effort in and bring in some memorable moments (this is probably Robin William's funniest film). Seeing this mixed in amongst the likes of what we have yet to see is saddening but at least I'm hear to say that it's actually worth a watch.

Bottom 5

5. The Fox and the Hound 2 
You may notice that most of the sequels within the bottom five all fall under one word: "Why?". Why do these exist. The Fox and the Hound was one of Disney's best because of the narrative and the ending it had. Granted, they must have realised this as this is a "mid-quel" as it takes place DURING the first film. To throw out the only good thing about this, I would say that I'm glad Patrick Swayze was used in a Disney film(for no other reason than to claim that the four leads in Ghost are all in Disney films) but all I can say about this one is that it's just lame. It's a movie fart. It happens, it's unpleasant but you forget about it soon after. Just watch the original classic instead.

4. Brother Bear 2 
Two things. 1) I don't even like the first Brother Bear film that much to begin with. 2) The first one wasn't even a hit. This makes Brother Bear 2 not only stupid and boring but also unnecessary. One thing we have to take into account is that it's harsh to expect these sequels to be able to get the entire cast back. Robin Williams not coming back for Return of Jafar had an excuse and Dan Castelenetta at least tried to recapture the original's charm. Whether he failed or not is up to you but here we have a new voice to Kenai who shows that the casting directors didn't even care. They didn't put in the effort to find a good replacement. Nothing happens in this film of any worth anyway and with a terrible ending, you won't miss anything by skipping this one or the first one...

3. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
You'd think Tim Curry could make anything good. After all, he's been in many duff films and I always enjoy his performance (don't want to tread on the toes of FernGully fans but...I'll get to that one). Another thing, tell me what you like most about the first film? Guess what, it's not in this one. I don't care what you were thinking, it's not here! Blandness is the true spirit of this film. Nothing stands out and in fact I barely remember a thing about it. All I know is that every second this thing dragged on, I was praying to just watch the first one again. I hear that there is in fact a third Beauty and the Beast but I dare not even take a look. From what I've looks WORSE! 

2. Atlantis The Lost Empire 2: Milo's Return
Just look at it! One look at this film will tell you everything. The animation is absolutely ghastly and looks incredibly stiff. The voice acting is a huge step down from the first which is a shame since I like James Arnold Taylor yet the rest of the cast is the same so...why does everyone seem off? I guess it's down to poor direction. I suppose the most baffling thing about this one is that it really shouldn't exist. Atlantis the Lost Empire was good but it wasn't even a success for Disney so why even bother making a sequel? I hear the reason was because it was supposed to be a TV it shouldn't be.

1. The Hunchback of Note Dame II
It's fitting that I just reviewed The Last Airbender because that and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II are insulting, devoid of life, stupid as hell and just a chore to sit through. It delivers character retcons (Phoebus was NEVER the prejudice character...or that stupid), terrible songs, horrible animation and it manages to miss every element that made the first one so good. The villain? Boring and not anywhere as complicated or engaging as Frollo. The subtext? Non-existent. The likable characters? Devoid of I already said. This film makes me so angry that I'm repeating myself. It's one of those cases that I felt I was too lenient in my review and I only gave it a 2! Atrocious. Absolutely atrocious.

So there you have it. Some hidden gems and some real stinkers. We can live in the comfort that Disney hasn't made a direct-to-video (or I guess DVD now) film in a long time. While they have announced sequels to Wreck-it Ralph and Frozen, the former is deserving of a sequel that is welcomed (so much potential) while the latter may have difficulty because Frozen seemed to be a good standalone story it at least it can't be as bad as the bottom 5, right? What's the moral of the story? SHOW YOUR KIDS THE ORIGINALS.....and the top five films on this list.

Oh wait, I forgot all about the Tinkerbell films...MAE WHITMAN, WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO US?!

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