I figure, most everyone would agree that Disney sequels are bad. They're bad by their very nature and with the exception of Rescuers Down Under
, they will never live up to their predecessors. So when it comes to these princess films, from an objective standpoint they can be judged and rated by their quality. This includes animation, character continuity, new characters and villains, voice-over work, plot, relevance to the original, music, etc. Now while I may not agree with the following list which you’ll probably gather from my reviews, here is the countdown to the Best/Worst Disney Princess Sequels.
#11) Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World ____________________________________
This sequel is just as much of a watered down bastardization of historical events as the first film. Pocahontas travels to England with new love interest John Rolfe to negotiate for peace between the nations and just like every other goshdarn Disney Princess sequel ever made, she has a hard time fitting in. The villain is once again General Ratcliff who actually is probably a more potent villain here than in the first movie. With some weaseling shenanigans he gets Pocahontas nearly beheaded by King James. This leads to a reunion between Pocahontas and John Smith. I was shocked with how poorly written their scenes were, lacking any honesty to their prior romance making John Smith nothing but a third wheel in this story. To spoil the ending, Pocahontas ends up with John Rolfe. I know it’s historically accurate but I can’t help but feel one of Disney’s most passionate romances was so easily tossed aside, forgotten and treated as trivially as yesterday’s bubblegum. C’mon Disney, if you’re going to rewrite our American history anyway, why not give us the fictional ending you KNOW everybody wants?! History is rarely happy and Disney movies are supposed to be. So please Disney, don't start pretending that you care about historical accuracy all of a sudden. It took me three tries to get all the way through this movie and still I skipped a bit out of the impatience brought on by sheer boredom.
#10) Cinderella II: Dreams Come True
This film really pissed me off and should do so to anyone who has even a shred of respect for the 1950 film. Consisting of three separate stories, we're tortured with the concept of Cinderella (of all Disney characters) finding it hard to fit in as a princess where her biggest challenge is planning a party! Another useless segment is of Jaques becoming human. The final story is the only one with any amount of substance whatsoever but I wouldn't blame anyone who couldn’t bear to make it this far. Stepsister Anastasia meets a guy, likes him but Uh-Oh...mother disapproves. With some 'follow-your-heart' bullshit pep talk from Cindy, all ends well. Though I must give props where props are due and say that the concept of showing how the stepsisters' "evilness" was a product of their upbringing and not necessarily in their nature is a good one. What’s more is that this is one of the very few Disney films I can think of where the less attractive people find love. All in all it’s still a crumby film with cheap animation, awkward pop-music, bad story-telling, shameless pop-culture references and no real conflict or villain to speak of. If I were Walt Disney, I would be rolling in my grave desperately trying to dig my way out so I could personally strangle the bastards responsible for this grandiose piece of sacrilege.
#9) Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams
Enchanted Tales deals with not just one princess but two; the writers clearly couldn’t come up with anything interesting enough for a full-length film. The first deals with Aurora in her first appearance since 1959. What is her conflict? To run the country for two days. Needless to say, Aurora fucks things up. Given Merryweather’s wand which is excessively particular to details, Aurora ends up with dozens of cows in the royal hall. In a last ditch effort she gives them all away to the people and hawks it all to perseverance. This film depicts Aurora as a giggling, girly, airheaded, incompetent boob who no longer has that powerful operatic voice and now has an off-putting bias towards the color pink. Second half of the film in a nutshell: Jasmine can’t control a class of brats, she tames a horse and now she can. That is just how boring and indescribably pointless the story is. It’s dumb. DUMB! The animation was unforgivably horrendous as well as the music. The whole underlining word this film tries shoving down our throats is “perseverance”. Well I can tell you, well should all take a lesson from this and indeed persevere. That is persevere to avoid this film or convince ourselves it never existed.
#8) Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World
Have you ever had a second degree burn? Lemon juice in your eye? A good swift kick to the balls? Well I have. That pain throbs throughout your entire body only to last several minutes, even hours after the fact. This movie is quite similar in that regard. It’s that bad. Another collection of four pointless stories, this film takes Beauty and the Beast, one of the greatest animated films of all time, and makes it one of the most unbearable. Belle is now an unbelievable feel-good pushover, the Beast would be clinically diagnosed as psychotically sociopathic (not even joking), and all the secondary characters are just annoying. The stories add nothing! In fact it only creates more plot holes by adding new characters or nuances that are never addressed in the original film. First, Belle and the Beast have a fight and attempts to patch it up get fucked up, Lumiere and Fifi celebrate their anniversary and fuck it up, people try to cheer Mrs. Potts up with a party only to fuck it up and... well you get the picture. But of course, all is resolved with a cheesy moral wrought speech from Belle. For a number of people this film actually makes them sincerely angry and with good reason. Be it emotional or physical, Belle’s Magical World is so painful to watch, there should be a warning label to not have any sharp objects nearby when watching this movie.
#7) The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
The problem with this sequel is that it’s only good in theory. The idea of making Ariel’s daughter a carbon copy of her only in an inverse plot sounds clever (as well as the morbidly-obese Ursula having an anorexic sister). Unfortunately it only makes for a boring and painfully predicable plot...and it villainizes people with eating disorders. In an attempt to protect her daughter from Morgana, Ariel raises Melody without ever telling her about her past, merpeople or Atlantica which is just the dumbest concept EVER! What does it accomplish not to tell your child why you’re neurotically protective?! You only make them resent you and they act stupidly because they don’t know the risks. Seriously, a well-informed child is less likely to make stupid decisions. So in a sick way this movie is a perfect example of why parents should inform their children about sex. Ironically, this film puts Melody in a number of purposeless scenes that sexualize and romanticize boys at an age when the girls don’t even have boobs yet. It’s no wonder the number of American teen pregnancies has skyrocketed. I blame movies like this!! Anyhoo, Melody gets all rebellious, makes a deal with Morgana to become a mermaid and shit hits the fan. You know the framework. Athough cute, there’s nothing really clever or profound about this film.
#6) Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
Yet another story set somewhere in the midst of Beauty and the Beast, this film deals with Belle’s stay at the castle during Christmas time. She and everyone else want to celebrate it but, unsurprisingly, the Beast puts up resistance. Apparently the ‘one winter’s night’ on which the beast was cursed was in fact Christmas. I don’t need to tell you that all ends well after some pointless crap happens. This film sucks. It adds a new villain and characters never to be seen in the original and it entirely changes Belle and the Beast’s characters. Belle goes from being a strong well-rounded heroine to a slap-happy girl just randomly wondering the castle with a mission to become best friends with the beast. The beast goes from being a tortured soul to just a whiney bitch throwing random temper tantrums. One finds it hard to believe the Beast is even capable of change. Not only does this story promote the text-book unhealthy relationship but it also glorifies Belle as the Savior of Christmas. We see angels and bright stars but never once is there a mention of God or Jesus. It’s described as a time of trees, tinsel, stockings, presents but neither is there a mention of Santa Claus making this film as non-denominational as it gets. I’m not even sure if there was a solid point to this film. If you want a good laugh I would highly recommend watching a video review of this movie by the Nostalgia Chick at this link: link
#5) The Return of Jafar
I can’t say this film came as any great surprise to me. The first movie’s ending was set open for such a sequel. But the title is a bit misleading as the story centers around Iago more than anyone and while he may be funny in small does, he gets annoying real quickly. Another character introduced, Abis Mal, easily one of the most obnoxious characters ever created only serves as a means to get Jafar into the story. So Jafar (now a genie) wants to sack revenge upon Aladdin and Iago must decide where his allegiances lie. For the most part, the animation is abysmal and the story is flat with a bad script that seems to repeat certain lines several times and possesses a number of blatant inconsistencies. Like, why aren’t Aladdin and Jasmine married yet? Why does Aladdin still wear his peasant clothing at random points in the film? When did the Genie become so frickan lame? Another vital element that’s missing is Robin Williams. Genie who is voiced by Dan Castellaneta [Homer Simpson] lacks the humor and adlibbing skills that made Aladdin so successful making his character seem exactly what it is: someone trying to imitate a great standup comedian but awkwardly failing to get any laughs. You feel bad watching him. Executed without any finesse, this film has very few redeeming qualities. When watching the Aladdin trilogy, you’d be better off just skipping this one.
#4) Aladdin and the King of Thieves
The animation in this film is definately sub-par (most disney sequels are) but that’s the only bad thing I can say about it. The songs are good, the dialogue is great, there is character development and the plot not only ties into the original but its capable of standing on its own. Even though they should technically have been married by now the story starts off with Aladdin and Jasmine’s wedding which is crashed by the infamous 40 Thieves. As it turns out Aladdin’s father IS the king of thieves. They are reunited only to embark on an adventure to find the “ultimate treasure” aka the Hand of King Midas. This film is incredibly funny thanks to the return of Robin Williams and his adlibbing skills. Atop of the usual pop-culture references, this film easily has as many, if not more Disney references than Enchanted
. And if you recall, the first Aladdin
film is actually told by a traveling merchant who now owns the lamp. Well this film addresses him in the end and while it may be a bit random it actually ends the Aladdin series coming full circle, starting and ending with the narrator. Aside from a slightly sappy moral that “family is the ultimate treasure” this film played out very much like an Indiana Jones film and I would dare say I even enjoyed this movie more than The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
, which may not be saying a whole lot. Nonetheless it’s definitely worth giving a watch.
#3) The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning
This movie was interesting in that we got to see more of Ariel’s relationship with her sisters and how Ariel’s dead mother ties into the family’s love of music. However, it only leaves us still begging how/why Ariel became so enamored with the world that killed her mother and why she so easily left her beloved sisters making her seem even more naïve and selfish in the 1989 film. If anything, it does an excellent job of adding depth to King Triton as we now understand why he’s a widower, why he loathes humans and why he’s so protective of his daughters. Essentially, Ariel’s mother was killed in a pirate raid and from then on King Triton banned music from Atlantica as it reminds him of his grief. Ten years later, Ariel and her sisters rediscover music and Ariel tries to get her father to lift the ban. The story is definately stretched a bit thin but the emotions are very honest and poignant. The villain, who is more or less a parody of a fallen Broadway star going through a midlife crisis sparked by her unfulfilling fallback job, is still underdeveloped and deficient in an objective befitting a good villain. In fact all the secondary characters are what bring the story down with their pop music and beatboxing and useless subplots. Among other small details that irked me: we have a gay manatee who serves no purpose, the Harry Belafonte song Jump in the line (Shake Senora)
, and a merboy with a faux hawk. All that aside, the animation is frankly amazing for a sequel, the dialogue is cute, the voices sound the same the relationships are realistic. For the most part, the positive qualities outweigh the shortcomings.
#2) Mulan II
In this film of mixed-messaged feminism, Mulan and Shang (now engaged) are given a mission to escort three Chinese princesses to their arranged marriages. With them are the three bachelors Ling, Yao, and Chien-Po from the first film. If you haven't guessed where the plot is going boy now you clearly give this film too much credit. The oh-so-unsubtle moral this story tries to teach us is “follow your heart”. So essentially do what you want even if it does violate years of tradition, laws, or the expressed wish of your political leader. This film also has a new kind of villain, Mushu. His entirely selfish motivations lead him to intentionally sabotage Mulan and Shang’s relationship. Even though that’s the closest thing to a real life villain most of us will ever encounter, it’s still a sorry excuse for an antagonist. Anyhow, after a scene in which Mulan assumes Shang is dead, she offers herself to the arranged marriage instead of the princesses. The fact that Mulan is considered a Disney Princess after she openly disapproves of the marital duty of a real princess only to willingly submit to it herself is ridiculous in a good way. Disney has spent so many years glorifying the role of a princess, sending the message that ANYONE can be a princess only to make this movie that illustrates being a princess sucks. With good animation, semi-decent songs, and a sad moment to rival most Disney films, Mulan II sadly suffers from a blatant social agenda and overt goofiness. Had it not been trying to fish for so many cheap laughs or thrown so many twisted modern feminist themes at us it could have been a much better film. Oh yeah...and the three princesses elope with the three dudes and everyone apparently is perfectly fine with this. ...Stupid.
#1) Cinderella III: A Twist in Time
By far the most original and clever of all Disney sequels, A Twist in Time seamlessly ties into the original film. It raises the question of what would happen if the Wicked Stepmother got a hold of the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand. Long story short: she turns back time and magically alters various events to her liking. One of the things that made Lady Tremaine a classic villain was that she was one of few who didn’t have magical powers but with them we see what kind of evil and malicious person she had the potential of being, rivaling the likes of Maleficent. This sequel once again explores the less-than-evil stepsister Anastasia, a girl who desperately wants love and is used as a tool in her mother's grand scheme. With the exception of the prince, everyone was superbly animated, especially Cinderella. There were a few cartoony moments but even fewer pop-culture references and for once we were kept entirely in the world of an original Disney film. The script had some great lines and moments including one heartwarming scene where the king bonds with Anastasia regardless of her awkwardness likening her to his late wife. What I appreciated most was that the conflict was complex and there was no simple resolution. Cinderella is thrown a number of harsh obstacles putting her in moments of true heartbreak and destitution. Yet in this film she actually stands up for herself and fights for her prince, her happiness and her fairy tale ending more than any Disney heroine I can think of. Granted this story with its time-travel may seem a bit arbitrary and far-fetched when compared to the first Cinderella but it at least looks like some well-intended thought and effort went into it. It may help some not to think of it as a sequel so much as a separate cult film that only makes sense if you saw the 1950 classic. With that said I personally believe A Twist in Time
fulfils the most criteria (not necessarily all) in being the best Disney Princess sequel.