In the early 2000s, the big man in the industry of movies Disney was entering a new era of filmmaking after having finally found its stride during the Disney Renaissance a decade earlier. One that was full of risk-taking and innovation, deviating from its usual storytelling and cinematic concepts and eventually receiving mixed reviews and box office receipts.
The result, though, was a collection of movies that Disney definitely wouldn’t risk producing in 2019, and the list includes a few jewels that are largely unknown to the general public. Here’s a countdown of the top six Walt Disney Animation Studios features from the 2000s that were shown in theaters.
#1. The 6 Best Movies Disney Made In The 2000s
6. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire is an adventure film in the vein of Treasure Planet, and it follows linguist Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox) as he teams up with a group of mercenaries to locate the legendary lost city of Atlantis. There he meets Kida (Cree Summer), the warrior princess of a civilization that is still very much alive, and together they uncover a menace that may spell the end of Atlantis as they know it. Atlantis: The Lost Empire’s blocky art style and unique tale lead them to set it apart from the typical Disney animated film in terms of tone and atmosphere.
5. Treasure Planet (2002)
John Musker (The Little Mermaid) and Ron Clements (Aladdin, Hercules) co-wrote, produced, and directed Treasure Planet since it was a labor of love for them. This film is a Sci-Fi take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure novel Treasure Island, and it follows a young man named Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he travels across the galaxy in search of the legendary Treasure Planet, where it is said Captain Nathaniel Flint buried his stolen treasure.
Every facet of Treasure Planet betrays the film’s status as the most expensive traditionally animated feature ever filmed. The landscapes are rich in detail and expansive, and the use of bronze and gold everywhere is visually striking and novel in the context of a science fiction or space film.
4. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
The Emperor’s New Groove, starring David Spade, is the funniest of these movies because it follows the spoiled and self-centered Emperor Kuzco as he is accidentally changed into a llama (he was intended to be dead) by his advisor Yzma (Eartha Kitt). Now he must rely on Pacha (John Goodman), a benevolent llama herder, to help him revert to his human form and restore his reign.
The unorthodox notion of an Incan emperor being changed into a llama is unlikely to be greenlit by Disney today, yet the film has become a fan favorite and is one of the most quotable animated films of recent decades.
3. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
As well as featuring Disney’s first Black princess, The Princess and the Frog is the studio’s last movie to use classic 2-D animation. The film centers on Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), a waitress in 1920s New Orleans who works tirelessly to realize her goal of opening her eatery. She meets Naveen, Prince of Maldonia (Bruno Campos), who has been cut off financially by his parents to persuade him to stop philandering and start living his life. They are converted into frogs by Dr. Facilier, The Shadow Man (Keith David).
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2. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
Though it is best known for a single scene involving a T-Rex, this film is one of the greatest hidden gems on this list. In Meet the Robinsons, Jordan Fry plays Lewis, an orphaned science prodigy who meets Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman), a confident and wisecracking child from the future, while Wilbur is on a mission to recover the Robinsons’ stolen time machine from The Bowler Hat Guy (Stephen John).
1. Lilo And Stitch (2002)
Lilo & Stitch is not an unappreciated film, yet it deserves every accolade. Stitch (Chris Sanders) is a violent alien who is adopted as a “puppy” by Lilo (Daveigh Chase) and Nani Pelekai (Tia Carrere), two poor sisters on the island of Hawaii. Lilo and Nani are having a hard time dealing with Child Protective Services, threatening to take Lilo away, while Stitch is being taught the value of family.
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