With Disney's Frozen just around the corner, I think it's time to look back and see the slow-but-sure comeback of Walt Disney Animation Studios since John Lasseter took over. With the Disney Company owning some of the most influential brands in the world (Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel), the Disney Animation Studios sometimes gets lost amidst its more media-frenzy-inducing siblings. Nonetheless, since Walt founded it back in 1923, the Animation Studio has been, and continues to be, the cornerstone of the Disney company (even if sometimes that's not apparent).
Most Disney fans know that WDAS is responsible for some of the finest animated films of all time, from Snow White to The Lion King. Disney Animation have created many animated classics that keep entertaining audiences of all ages and, whether they were released 70 or 10 years ago, their legacy remains untainted. Not all the films the studio have released are undisputed classics but when you are in business for more than 80 years, there are sure to be some duds now and again. But, since 2007, WDAS have been on a great streak churning out films that not only have ambitious and daring stories but also have emotional depth and visual inventiveness. It may be early to talk of a new Renaissance but it can't be denied that the studio is undergoing a great comeback, and all this can be traced back to one man: John Lasseter. Under his management, the studio has flourished and positioned itself again as one of the leading animation studios in the world. And considering that he has been receiving lots of flack for Pixar's current "decline" and being (unfairly) criticized for his management policies, I think it's important we remember in what state WDAS was before he took over, compared to the state it's in now, seven years later. I think it's time we thank him for returning Walt's beloved studio to its former glory and launching it into a bright and exciting future.
The Dark Days
Keep Moving Forward
The Truman Dog
The Glorious Return
I clearly remember that the thing that most excited me in 2009 was wanting to see The Princess and the Frog. Sure, Up is a masterpiece and of course I went to see it opening day, but the fact that a new, hand-drawn animated film was being released by Disney surpassed anything else. Not only that, but further increasing my excitement, the legendary duo of Ron Clements and John Musker were in charge of the film, so it quickly became my must-see event of the year. And I ended up having a great time. The Princess and the Frog not only pushed the studio forward, but it also reminded the audience of why we love Disney movies. It may have not been a great box office success but it stands as proof that Lasseter was set to change the studio for good, and for that I will forever grateful.
The Best of Both Worlds
I have to be honest, the trailers for Tangled did not look good. They seemed too DreamWorks-esque and I feared that they would try to imitate their (then) sitcom-esque formula. Moreover, after The Princess and the Frog, I was disappointed that this film would be CGI instead of hand-drawn. Nonetheless, Lasseter and producer Glen Keane promised a film where they would take the best things about hand drawn animation and mixed them up with the best of CG animation. The end result was a gorgeously animated movie which bore little resemblance to what the trailers made us believe we'd be getting. Just looking at Rapunzel's gorgeous hair, you can see all the care that went into making this film and the visual style of it resemble the classic look of hand-drawn animated movies. And with a great story to boot, we had another winner.
The Silly Old Bear
The Good Villain
Short Films and Techniques