Diving right back into sharing my memories of some of the Disney animated films released around this time over the years we are getting very close to the modern age. During recent years we’ve seen the return to the Disney Musical and a balance of releasing great films during the spring and summer months as well. However, since I’m focusing on those holiday releases, we’ll continue from where I left off last time.
“Treasure Planet”, released on November 27, 2002 with the usual toy tie-ins at fast food chains. This was a sci-fi retelling of the classic story of Treasure Island. There weren’t many truly great Disney animated films during this time, but this one like the others does deserve a chance to shine. It’s fun and imaginative with enjoyable characters. It’s almost lost from memory these days, but still worth a look.
November 1st, 2003 saw the release of “Brother Bear” which to this very day, I have not seen. Despite having some comical trailers thanks to a reunion of Bob and Doug Mackenzie, this movie has never held any interest for me.
“Chicken Little” hit theaters November 4, 2005 and I have to say I enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t until I started listening to Disney podcasts that I learned a lot of Disney fans out there treat this movie like the Jar-Jar of Disney animation. I still don’t understand why they don’t enjoy this movie. It’s fun, it’s funny, and has a good underdog story. This film itself seems to be an underdog.
November 28, 2008 was the release date for “Bolt”. I unfortunately didn’t see this one in theaters, but once it came onto DVD, I eagerly checked it out. Despite having two very good songs on its soundtrack, this is another basic Disney animated comedy with heart. It’s a pet finding its way home movie mixed with a road movie, and mixed again with a buddy movie. Delightful characters and funny side characters make this a great time to be had by all, but still seemed to be missing some of that Disney magic.
On November 6, 2009, Disney released a version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in 3-D that freaked out a lot of movie goers. The motion capture realism of the characters proved to be too much for many a Disney fan, however I really enjoyed this trip down familiar territory. This stayed true to the author’s vision and gave Jim Carrey a chance to show his versatility as multiple characters. This film was not made by Disney Animation Studios, but rather the now defunct ImageMovers Digital.
December 11 of that same year however saw the release of something from Disney Animation Studios that was not only a return to the animated musical, but a return to traditional 2-D animation. This thrilled the older Disney fans but still didn’t move tickets as fast as the slew of CGI films that have now dominated animation. However, “The Princess and the Frog” was a delight, and I challenge anyone to not be upset at the stomping of Ray. Disney was finding a way to work with the old formula but needed to take their story-telling in a new direction.
Since then we’ve seen “Tangled”, “Frozen”, and “Moana” take Disney princesses in new places with strong female characters whose goals were not centered on gaining the love of a prince. Audiences have noticed and young girls have found new characters to latch onto as we have entered into a new age of Disney animation. Somewhere in there we even had the fun of “Wreck-it Ralph” to prove that there is still room for great Disney comedies as well.