Now I want to just make something clear here. I LOVE Disney films. I grew up with them. I watched them so often as a kid that there was at one point a ban on the Tarzan VHS because I wouldn’t stop watching it. I would also be willing to bet a lot of money that (as a kid born square in the middle of the Disney Renaissance) the first film I ever watched was a Disney film. I also consider a few of them to be truly great films. I probably owe a lot of why I still watch films to those brightly coloured loveable films.
However I have realised recently that Disney has not produced an animated film that I thought had genuine merit since Treasure Planet. That was in 2002. (I’m not counting Pixar films here, they work under different creatives) How is it that the pioneers of animation have not made a good animated film in over 10 years?
Firstly I blame the transition to computer-generated imagery. Disney simply is not as good with computers as other animation studios. Here is the main character from Meet the Robinsons
And here is the closest comparison in a Pixar film.
The Pixar character is clearly superior, the hair is more natural, the skin is shaded better and the character is all in all more attractive. The Incredibles was released three years before Meet the Robinsons. Until Pixar and Disney merged, Disney simply did not have the technology to keep up with 3D animation.
But why was it trying to?
It’s very fashionable to talk about how traditional animation is dead. However this is a lie. 2D animation is thriving, even Disney’s Paperman proved this! Yet in feature films Disney has not touched upon pure hand-drawn animation since The Princess and the Frog. In fact they just earlier this month laid off nine of their top 2D animators.
Sadly I think this means that Disney has had its heyday as an animation studio. While this marks the end of an era which influenced a great number of films and left a huge mark on popular culture the demise of Disney allows for a much wider variety of animation to make it into the public eye. In the interests of the future of animation I want to recommend to you my top 5 animated films of the past ten years.
What do you think? Is 2D animation dead? What hidden gems of animation are just waiting to be discovered?