Top 13 Underrated Animated Films
1187 7 7.113. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
One of Disney's most recent films, and its first attempt to return to the field of traditional animation after its long hiatus since the film HOME ON THE RANGE. It's a very fun film, and while a return to the old tradition still felt pretty fresh. Plus it has Disney's best villain in years with Dr. Facilier.
Why is it Underrated? It did get pretty good reviews, and did fairly well in theaters it still didn't draw in the money that Disney movies got in the past and that this deserved. And lets look at the statistics of this film's box office gross with that of a children's film that was out around the same time:
Princess and the Frog: $267 Million
Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: $443 Million
Where's the justice in a lousy movie that was only successful because it was based on an old cartoon and featured popular music in it grossing more (Nearly Double) than a great Disney film with honest to God effort put into it?
470 5.4 5.612. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
This one received A TON of backlash. Critics just slammed the Hell out of this one. Here's the thing about it. It was just pure action and fun with a great spirit of adventure. That's all it was trying to be, and that's what it succeeded at. Many also look down on it for just being "kiddie" entertainment. STAR WARS isn't meant to be tough and gritty like TERMINATOR. It's supposed to appeal to all ages. It isn't as good as the six main films of the saga, but it is still entertaining to watch.
495 6.3 611. The Lord of the Rings (1978)
When most people think of a LORD OF THE RINGS adaptation, they think of the live-action Peter Jackson masterpieces. But the first adaptation was done back in the 70's by a animated filmmaker Ralph Bashki using the rotoscoping technique. While not as good as the Peter Jackson films, it's still a solid, and sadly unfinished (I prefer not to count the Rankin Bass version of RETURN OF THE KING) attempt to bring the trilogy to life. It didn't do that well at the box office, and today isn't recognized that much.
*Just as a fun note, it was this movie that introduced Peter Jackson to THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
383 7.3 7.610. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
The best animated superhero film ever made, and is tied with BATMAN 1989 and THE DARK KNIGHT as my three favorite Batman movies (I guess the Joker helps).
I'll admit that I wasn't a huge fan of this movie when I was a kid, but I love it nowadays as an older viewer. That's something I find interesting about it. It is better for older audiences than kids, and most people look down on animated films and superheroes as being child fare. This was a dark film with great ambiance, and a relatively complex story. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.
516 7.5 7.49. The Secret of NIMH (1982)
This is the film that's often called Don Bluth's masterpiece, and it's a very good film. It did decent at the box office and has been very well received, but so many people don't know about it. And when I do tell them about it, they don't take it seriously. It's got a great darker animation style to it, and a very interesting story.
472 6.1 6.58. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)
Dreamworks' last traditionally animated film that did poorly at the box office and got mixed to negative reviews from critics. It's just a fun adventure film with some very good voice acting from the likes of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
869 6.5 6.87. Treasure Planet (2002)
A special adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel TREASURE ISLAND. It's a film that came out after Disney's Renaissance of animation when Disney started to lose interest in that field. The visuals are absolutley stunning, and has one of the most likable and underrated of all Disney villains (their version of Long John SIlver).
Even though this film did pretty well with the critics it is I think the biggest (or one of the biggest) box office bombs in history. How did that happen? It was a traditionally animated film made by Disney. My guess is people were turned off by the concept.
634 6.2 6.56. Titan A.E. (2000)
A film that is very similar to the last film on the list TREASURE PLANET. If you've watched then you probably know what I'm talking about. Besides the fact that they're both sci-fi/space adventure animated films (Mind you this one came out first, but they were probably in production at the same time)
A young man with father abandonment issues (Jim Hawkins/Cale Tucker) have maps to a special location (Treasure Planet/The Titan) and go on a journey to get there. And along the way they develop a father-son relationship with a fellow crewman/captain (Long John Silver/Joseph Korso) who eventually are revealed to be villains, but at the end do the right thing.
END OF SPOILERS:
I didn't need to do that comparison, but it was just for fun. Also like TREASURE PLANET it's visuals are stunning, and its characters likable. It also has a fun throbbing rock soundtrack that helps give it its feel. There are also some very intriguing plot twists along the way. This is the great animator Don Bluth's last film to date, and it's such a disappointment that this film didn't do well at the box office and only got mixed reviews from critics. I think Don has some more great movies to make, and I hope he gets to do them someday soon.
839 6.4 6.65. The Road to El Dorado (2000)
This movie is just pure fun! It is one of the funniest animated films I've ever seen. It benefits from great comedic writing and strong voice performances. Primarily from the two leads played by great actors Kevin Kline (Tulio) and Kenneth Branagh (Miguel). Though the others did great jobs as well including Armand Assante as the villain Tzekel-Kan, Rosie Perez as the female lead Chel, and Edward James Olmos as the leader of El Dorado Chief Tannabok, and notably Jim Cummings as the conquistador Hernan Cortes. Although his appearances are short, Cummings' cool yet intimidating voice make his short and small role memorable.
Along with the fantastic voice talent are great songs by song writer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice (the same team behind the music of THE LIONG KING), as well as some splendid animation.
This film is a great comedy, and a great adventure that's extremely fun to watch.
443 6.5 6.34. The Black Cauldron (1985)
A bomb back when it came out, but now has gained a pretty strong cult following. It isn't a terribly complicated story or have that deep of characters, but it's entertaining to watch because of its spirit of adventure, and cool animation. It also has one of the creepiest Disney villains who has a ton of presence, The Horned King!
1792 6.8 6.83. Anastasia (1997)
Don Bluth's film before TITAN A.E. While generally liked, it is often looked down upon as being just a Disney rip-off. While it does share several similarities and Disney motifs, it also has its own feel. It to me feels more like a cousin of a Disney film.
The characters are all charming and likable with a great voice cast. Anya and Dimitri are very good heroines, while Rasputin is a very fun villain.
It also has beautiful animation, and lots of great songs. Three of real note are the two beautiful songs JOURNEY TO THE PAST and ONCE UPON A DECEMBER, and then one of the greatest villain songs sung by Rasputin IN THE DARK OF THE NIGHT.
Again, this is a case of movie that never really got that much recognition even when it was in theaters. Getting generally positive reviews from critics, and doing moderately well at the box office.
1355 6.5 6.82. The Prince of Egypt (1998)
A film that did exceedingly well at the box office and got a very favorable response from critics and audiences, but isn't talked about anymore. Not like the films I mentioned in the opening.
It's got dazzling animation, one of the greatest voice casts ever brought together for an animation production. A cast a live-action film would've been proud to have at least at the time. With the likes of Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Jeff Goldblum, Sandra Bullock, Danny Glover, Steve Martin, and Martin Short. It's music is also nothing less than amazing, every song being powerful and noteworthy.
It deserves to be in the pantheon of great animated films.
1966 6.6 6.71. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
One of Disney's greatest masterpieces. It did reasonably well in theaters, but nobody talks about when they speak of the great Disney masterpieces. I think that this deserves to be put in that category. It's one of Disney's darker efforts, but it is never too brooding.
The characters are all fantastic. Quasimodo is an extremely likable protagonist, and much more relatable to earlier Disney protagonists. He isn't some handsome guy who's universally loved, and is very insecure. Even the Beast at the end of BEAUTY & THE BEAST got to turn into a normal (and handsome) human at the very end. But Quasimodo doesn't get that. In the end he has to live with his appearance, and does get accepted with it. Much more powerful. But the character who steals the show is Disney's most underrated villain Judge Claude Frollo (I even put him at the top of my underrated movie villains lists). He is cold and cunning. He commits mass genocide, and even lusts over a woman. And the scary thing is this. All Disney villains seem to take pride in the fact that they're evil. Frollo doesn't see himself as evil. He sees himself as the hero, doing what he does for God himself! People like him can, have, and actually do exist. He doesn't need magic to be evil like Ursula or Maleficent. If an Oscar could be given to a vocal performance, than Tony Jay would have won it for this one! The other voice actors did great jobs as well including Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, and Kevin Kline.
I've said this about the last few films on this list, but I do have to praise this one's music and animation as well. The music is definitely not given the credit it deserves. OUT THERE was Disney's submission for Best Original Song and it wasn't even nominated! You're telling me that a song like UNDER THE SEA that is basically about living underwater in hedonism is better than a song with true depth? It deserved at least a nomination. The most remembered song however is HELLFIRE, quite possibly the greatest villain song ever done.
Overall, it's one of my favorite Disney films (3rd to be precise) and doesn't get nearly the credit it deserves. It deserves to be recognized as the masterpiece that it is.
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