I just posted a list of my top 12 favorite Disney movies, now it’s time to look at another big part of my child hood, the Don Bluth animated movies. Just the name Don Bluth is like being injected with a needle of nostalgia. He made some of the greatest (and worst) animated children’s films of all time. So I decided to look over all 13 of his films and voice my own opinion on them. I won’t include any of the Disney movies he directed (with the exception of of "The Small One") or the video games he worked with.
When you have a combination of Don Bluth, Disney and Christmas, you know you’re in for a real treat. It’s a heartwarming tail a boy finding a new home for his best friend, a pet donkey. That premise may sound a little too simplistic but from beginning to end, the films can hold a viewers attention quiet well, thanks to it's drama, characters and an especially touching ending. It’s just one of the strongest feel good Christmas specials I ever seen and despite being a twenty minuet picture, it packs some great quality material.
This is another one of Don Bluth's Half-hour long movies, but unlike "The Small One", this doesn't offer as much. The characters are decent enough and there’s plenty of quality drama mixed with some cheerful moments, but it’s also a story that Don Bluth dose over and over again, involving a small boy separated from his family and hoping to be reunited with them. Basically, this is the pore kids version of "An American Tail".
Despite being a film about talking mice, "The Secret of NIMH" really treats audiences like adults. The hero isn't the stereo type you'd expect, instead she’s a frightened mother who has to brave her way through dangerous obstacles in an effort to save the life of her dying son, and personally, she's one of my favorite leading characters ever featured in an animated movie. The settings are dark and uninviting, which puts the kids in her place, making you feel the emotion and fear she is, but her bravery is also felt and helps the audience to stick with her and face the danger. It’s also a sophisticated, three way battle between the evolution of science, nature and the unknown. The result is a beautiful and complex story filled with magic, wonder, a stunning score composed by Jerry Gold Smith and some truly wonderful hand drawn.
Stories involving a character separated from his family are common with Don Bluth's movies, and this is the film that perfected this premise. While many concepts in the film are depressing and tragic, there's still plenty of joy that can be found in the characters, animation and musical scenes. For all the dark and frightening encounters our little hero faces, the film ultimately builds to an especially upbeat ending. It's a warmly nostalgic film that brings me back to my youth, and it even has a good squeal to boot.
When a group of young dinosaurs are separated from their herd, they have to work together to trek across dangerous grounds and battle monstrous predators to find the land that time forgot. I've always looked at this film as "Bambi", but with Dinosaurs, so this ties into my childhood more then the former, as I've always had a nostalgic connection to Dinosaurs. Despite the cutesy designs of the characters, this remains a reasonably mature film, with intense moments, and some legitimate drama. The musical score always brings a tear to my eye, there’s a lot of exciting battles with the T-Rex, the animation is splendid and the ending is one of the strongest, feel good moments from any kid’s film. Overall, "The Land Before Time" walks a perfect balance between it's appeal to little kids, while also treating the audience at large with a mature and beautiful story.
Don Bluth has always made his animated films darker and more tragic than Disney, but this was like a sick joke. The subject material in this family film are pretty intense, with subjects like depictions of death, violence, drinking, smoking, gambling, demons and Hell. Our lead hero is a pore role model for kids, but it's for the sake of a good story. To be fare there are a lot of really good things in this film. The animation is great as always, there's some quality morals, deep human drama, a good character story of how this terrible character became a better person in the end and the ending once again is sure to leave you terry eyed, hey real men cry during movies, even animated ones. If you can get past all the cruel moments, harsh tones, cynical subjects and demonic scenes, you may find that "All Dogs go to Heaven" is actually a pretty good film.
In this film, a group of animal's go on an adventure to rescue an Elvis Presley like rooster from a big city before an evil owl silences his singing for good. What can be said about this movie, it’s loud, silly, over the top, and in all honestly, I have a very big nostalgic spot for it. Oh, it really isn't a good movie at all, but I just can't bring myself to say I don't like it. The voice acting can get annoying but the characters are still likable, Phil Harris is great as always and the grand duke of owls is one of the coolest animated villains I've ever seen. For all it's annoyances and lack of real quality, the film is still beautifully animated, with some especially colorful and detailed backgrounds, it's fast-paced, the music is catchy and it still makes me feel young, in a good way. This may not be a great movie, but I'm not going to bash it either.
When a little lady is kidnapped by generic bad guys, a young fairy prince has to go and save her, they fall in love, sing songs and if you've seen all that before, you should probably just skip this movie all together. Everything about this film is just so darn generic, no surprises, no ambition, no magic, the characters are average, the music is dull, the animation isn't all that captivating and it all comes off as boring and forgettable.
Take this comment as a public service announcement, never show this movie to your kids, they deserve better. The film has nothing that even resembles a story, basically, two kids find a troll and they play around for an hour and a half. There’s nothing entertaining or magical about it, the characters are annoying and it may even make you stupider as you watch it. It’s just painful to site through and what’s worse is that a great director like Don Bluth led this project.
When a penguin finds a shinny pebble, he goes on a long journey to give it to the love of his life before an evil Tim Curry penguin before he claims her for himself. I suppose it’s not a completely terrible kids film, the music is okay and the animation is charming enough, but the story is standard, the characters are average and it’s overshadowed by far superior kids films.
When a Russian Princess loses her identity, it's up to a sneaky con man to set her on the right path. That may sound like a very simplistic premise but in truth, this film offers everything I love to see in animated movies. The characters are a lot of fun, the lead couple have great chemistry, the voice cast is very talented, the villain is especially entertaining, the songs are great and the animation is just beautiful. While the films take on Russian history is questionable, the film still succeeds with it's classic music and memorable cast.
So, the least interesting character from "Anastasia" gets his own animated adventure, in other words, it's a safe film to skip. The animation is standard, the story is boring, the music is forgettable and it makes me wonder, of all the sequels and spin-offs from Don Bluth's films, why was this the only one he was involved in?
This is personally my favorite Don Bluth movie and one of my all time favorite animated films. The stakes are huger than anything I’ve ever seen in a children's film, to put it bluntly, earth is destroyed, the human race is becoming extinct and a small group of people are on a mission to find a ship that will give the humans a new home. The characters are great and feel more mature than what most kid films offer. Plus, it’s just a thrilling journey through outer-space. I'm just a sucker for Sci-Fi adventures and this films got it all, it's fast paced, action packed has some good plot twists, a rock'in good soundtrack and some of the most mind blowing animation I’ve ever seen in a traditionally animated movie.