The Walt Disney Company owns one of the most beloved film libraries in Hollywood history. Since the 1937 release of Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, the animation division alone has created numerous classic films that have been enjoyed by generations, and the live action studio hasn’t been far behind.
However, for every Beauty and the Beast or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea the studio has produced, there have been other Disney productions that have been forgotten by many, left to the dustbin of history instead of the DVD shelf. These films aren’t bad, nor are they completely forgotten (especially for you die-hard fans!) But they’ve somehow been excluded from the pop culture zeitgeist, and we think they deserve a second watch!
The Black Cauldron – 1985
Based off of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain novels, The Black Cauldron was a radical departure for Disney animation in the mid-80s. The film, which follows a young boy Taran as he battles the evil Horned King in a fantasy land based on the Europe of the early middle ages, is much darker than the Disney films that had come before it, with heavy emphasis on action and no musical numbers.
In fact, upon release, the film was the first Disney animated film to feature a PG rating. In addition to being dark, The Black Cauldron was also incredibly expensive. Thanks to years in production, experimental special effects, and last minute re-edits, the film was the most expensive animated feature ever made at the time it was released. And unfortunately, despite some solid reviews, the film was a financial bomb. The film definitely deserves a second chance as its fantasy-style would fit with modern mega franchises, and it’s not nearly as dark as some of the other properties Disney releases today.
The Rescuers Down Under – 1990
Despite being released during the Disney Renaissance period, The Rescuers Down Under – a sequel to 1977’s The Rescuers that sees its titular heroic mice take on a mission in the Australian outback – was a financial disappointment at the box office, and it has been greatly overshadowed by other Disney films of the period like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King.
The film definitely deserves a second viewing – or first viewing, as the case may be – if for no other reason than the outstanding performances from Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, John Candy, and George C. Scott.
Meet The Robinsons – 2007
Disney animation was in a commercial – and some would say creative – tailspin in the mid-2000s, with its films often paling in comparison to those put out by eventual sister studios Pixar and Hollywood rival Dreamworks. Right in the midst of this downturn, the studio released Meet the Robinsons in 2007. The film, based the book A Day with Wilbur Robinson, follows Lewis, a young inventor who’s taken into the future by the mysterious Wilbur.
The film was a critical and commercial disappointment, however it’s definitely worth a second look from Disney fans due to the large number of references to the futurism of Walt Disney and Tomorrowland in the film’s future segments.
The Island at the Top of the World – 1974
Many Disney fans have probably never heard of The Island at the Top of the World, and those that have likely have negative feelings towards the film, since its financial bombing at the box office is cited as the reason legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter’s Discovery Bay project wasn’t built in Disneyland.
However, if one can put that aside, the film – based on the book The Lost Ones by Ian Cameron – is an entertaining steampunk romp, definitely deserving of a second look.
Treasure Planet – 2002
In some ways similar to what the aforementioned Black Cauldron had done nearly 20 years earlier, 2002’s Treasure Planet chose to eschew Disney’s “winning formula” – at that time the Broadway musical style Renaissance films – and instead tell a sci-fi version of Treasure Island set in space.
Despite a heavy marketing push, the film failed to resonate at the box office or with audiences, and is largely forgotten today. However, the film does have its charms, and the visuals alone merit a second viewing.
So what do you think of our list of forgotten Disney films that deserve a second look? Any others that you can think of? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
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