Animated films are renowned for making some of the most touching film experiences ever made. In fact at least eight of the fifty highest grossing films of all time are animated films.
But often times other animated movies, while they might be good, can get lost among the more well known animated movies made by Disney or Pixar. Whether they’re traditional animated films, anime or CGI animated here are 15 animated films that fell through the cracks.
1. The Black Cauldron (1985)
Taran is a young boy who is in possession of a pig- a special pig that knows the location of one of the most evil items in all the land – The Black Cauldron. Taran must protect this pig before it falls into the hands of the Horned King, a demonic king who wants the Black Cauldron in order to raise an undead army.
Based on the book by Lloyd Alexander of the same name, The Black Cauldron is a Disney film that has a very dark atmosphere that’s present throughout most of the movie. This movie looks completely unlike many of the Disney movies made today. The main reason for this is because it was made during Disney’s dark experimental period that lasted from 1977-1988, and yet out of all of the films made during that era The Black Cauldron is often considered the darkest.
Case in point, the character of the Horned King is one of the creepiest Disney villains of all time, due to his overall grotesque and decayed look; and is fantastically voiced by John Hurt.
The Black Cauldron might be from Disney but is completely unlike a lot of other Disney films, as it is dark, creepy and very gloomy- and it doesn’t help that it almost had an R rating due to a couple of cut scenes. It’s no wonder Disney looks back so negatively towards this film.
2. Tales from Earthsea (2006)
Arren is a young man that runs away from his home. He is rescued by a pack of wolves by a powerful wizard named Sparrowhawk- who befriends Arren. The two go on a quest because of the strange events that are happening in the kingdom, such as wizards losing their powers and dragons fighting. Meanwhile, an evil wizard named Cob, who still has his powers, is planning something.
Tales from Eathsea- while it might not be an accurate adaption of the novel- is however a beautiful looking anime that comes from the legendary Studio Ghibli. The landscapes in this film are just so sprawling and completely beautiful- the landscapes in this movie just looks like a world that you can get lost in due to the amount of detail.
The voice acting features Timothy Dalton as the wizard Sparrowhawk, and Dalton delivers his lines in such a booming and powerful way that you can’t help but to follow every word he says. Meanwhile, William Dafoe plays the evil wizard Cob and is completely the opposite, as he delivers his lines in a creepy, almost whispery, way. Both of these actors are fantastic at voicing these characters.
Tales From Eathsea might disappoint fans of the book series- in fact the author of the series Ursula K. Le Guin has expressed some displeasure towards this movie- but this adaption will please any fan of Studio Ghibli, as well as fans of anime.
3. The Thief and the Cobbler (2006, 2007, 2013)
Tack, a silent cobbler, is tasked with fixing Princess Yum Yum’s broken shoe. While fixing the shoes Tack discovers that evil wizard Zigzag is planning on taking over the kingdom. Meanwhile, a thief is trying to steal the golden balls that adorn the top of the kingdom.
The Thief and the Cobbler has had a long history of pre-production- which is probably more well known that the film itself. The Thief and the Cobbler began production in 1964 with animator Richard Williams, however it was “released” in 1995, completely cut, edited, and without Richard Williams, because he was fired from production.
This 1995 version is referred to as the Miramax version- and is widely considered the worst version of this film- as it added unnecessary dialogue and musical numbers. Because of this, Richard Williams has completely disowned the film, which was intended to be his masterpiece.
This is not the version to watch, instead another unofficial fan version known as, “The Recobbled Cut” exists, and follows the original vision of Richard Williams. This is the version to watch, as this cut incorporates almost all of the original material and work prints that the original film would have had. In this version you get to see Richard Williams’s beautiful vision in all of its intended glory.
The Recobbled Cut is really the only version to watch, and is pretty much available to watch on typical video sharing sites like YouTube. So by all means check this version out.
4. Metropolis (2001)
Kenichi and his uncle discover a robot named Tima after rescuing her from a fiery lab explosion. This soon leads Tima and Kenichi into a world that’s filled with revolution and danger- while also trying to figure out the importance of Tima.
What’s there to really say about this movie? It is an absolutely beautiful animated film; as well one of the most beautiful anime productions. The world of Metropolis is so grandiose and visually stunning, and even feels a lot like the world of Blade Runner; due to its futuristic look and vibrant colors.
The films main theme is: What does it means to be human? This is because the main character Tima questions her existence and even if she’s human or not. The world of Metropolis is filled with robots- many of whom are generally disregarded-almost to the point of being seen as second class citizens. So this movie definitely offers an intriguing premise about humanity, as well as the idea of seeing robots as less than equal citizens.
Metropolis is definitely a masterpiece of anime, and certainly worth checking out if you want to get into the anime genre.
5. Wicked City (1987)
In modern day Tokyo a peace treaty is being sighed between the human world and the demon world; as the treaty is soon going to expire. Two police agents, one human one demon, are assigned to protect one of the signers from an impending attack by the Dark World- a group of radical demons bent on not having the treaty signed.
Wicked City is a neo-noir that captures Tokyo in a dark and stylish way- as the city is dark and shadowy. The action sequences are well shot and animated. However, it’s really the design of the demons that makes this movie memorable, as they are completely grotesque, and almost resembling the alien from The Thing.
The thing that this film is most remembered for is it’s associated with the infamous anime subgenre known as the Hentai. The Hentai subgenre is basically Japanese “adult animation,” that is often times filled with bizarre or grotesque sex. This movie definitely has scenes of bizarre sex that might turn people off due to their grotesque nature, but if you can get past some of those scenes, then this movie is definitely worth checking out.
6. Yellow Submarine (1968)
The Yellow Submarine follows the four Beatles, John, Paul, Ringo, and George, as they go on a crazy adventure to free the people of Pepperland from the Blue Meanies- a group of blue beings who hate music.
Yellow Submarine can best be described as a product of its time – as it features 60s psychedelic animation that captures the time of when it came out. However, the bright colors are sometimes too bright to handle and become nauseating after a while.
The music, as to be expected, is great, and really lends itself to the animation. If you can stomach this type of thing, then this movie definitely worth checking out, because it’s a strange time that’s an experience.
7. The Last Unicorn (1982)
A Unicorn realizes that she is the last unicorn in all of the land and goes on an adventure to find out what happened to her people. On her journey she meets a magician who accompanies her, and tries to help her figure out what happened to all of the unicorns.
The Last Unicorn is an animated film that might sound like it would be a fun romp strictly for children, but it’s actually not. This movie is a surprisingly deep, and often times heartbreaking, animated film that’s meant more for adults than it is for kids.
The animation is completely beautiful, and in some parts, rivals the animation by popular companies like Disney, and was made by Japanese animation studio Topcraft animation; and this movie definitely has that Japanese anime look to it.
The voice acting is also amazing, as actors like Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, and Christopher Lee provide their voices, and give a lot of depth to their characters with their voices alone- especially Mia Farrow and Christopher Lee.
This movie is definitely one of the gold standards for children’s animated films, as it offers an enjoyable experience for children, as well as providing a much deeper experience for adults- which is really what the best children’s films do.