Ranking the Disney Princess Movies

The Disney Princesses; we know them, many little girls and grown women love them, and even some men love them too! True, some guys love them for less than pure reasons, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, these movies are a cornerstone to many a childhood, and one of Disney’s most lucrative and iconic franchises. Today, I rank these movies from WORST to BEST.

WORST- Pocahontas

Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Pocahontas is what you get when you’re just progressive enough to want to depict Native Americans as more human than just the gun toting “savages” of 1950’s Western films, but not nearly progressive enough to understand that historical accuracy is important. A product of its time, this is one movie you CAN’T enjoy if you’re a history buff, because you WILL rage at the inaccuracies.

Now make no mistake; this is still a good movie. The songs are good, with a personal favorite of mine being Steady as the Beating Drum. The color palette is gorgeous, the character designs are remarkable, the voice acting top notch; the typical Disney fare. But in so many ways, it doesn’t deserve more praise than that.

This is STILL a movie that takes far too many liberties with the source material, which wouldn’t be so bad if the source wasn’t a PERSON WHO ACTUALLY EXISTED. The Powhatan were real people, Pocahontas was a real person, and NOTHING in this movie is how it happened in real life. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this movie.

11- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Some day my prince will come.

The movie that started it all. A movie whose animation (mostly) still holds up to this day, which is no small feat for a movie that’s over half a century old! The characters are lovable and memorable, the backgrounds are gorgeous, and the music is just the right amount of sweet and melodious!

But the movie falters in plot. Of 80 minutes of running time, I felt that half of it all could be cut down. Between Snow White meeting the Dwarfs and the Wicked Queen trying to kill her, there’s a whole lot of NOTHING happening! An entire eight or so minutes (a tenth of the movie) is spent on the Dwarfs WASHING UP before dinner!

Snow White herself barely has any character growth to her, and in fact spends most of the movie just letting stuff happen to her. A feminist fantasy, this ain’t. Honestly, I’d even call it a little BORING!

But the movie is not without charm, and it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re a fan of the franchise, of Disney, or just plain animation.

10- Cinderella

A dream is a wish your heart makes.

A major improvement from Snow White, with a stronger lead, tighter plot, and better characterization all around. That said, I feel as though the mice just aren’t as memorable as the Dwarfs.

This is a movie that showed that Disney was ready to tackle fairy tales again, and this time, he was going all out. The experiments were over; Disney proved he knew his stuff, had developed a style of movie making, and was going to show the world how a more disciplined, more mature movie maker does a fairy tale.

The end result: a GORGEOUS movie! Everything, from the colors to the character designs, is a feast for the eyes! The characters are unforgettable, including one of the best Disney villains in the franchise: Lady Tremaine, the wicked stepmother!

That said…the middle part of the movie really, REALLY falters. Between the introduction and the part where the Ball is announced, not much of anything happens. In fact, we spend about fifteen minutes watching the mice getting breakfast! I was bored to TEARS in this scene; get on with it already!

But everything after that? Pure Disney magic. This movie is worth a watch!

9- Brave

Face the wind and touch the sky!

“Just the same old heroine!” Sang the Animaniacs during their BRILLIANT parodic takedown of Pocahontas back in 1995. But if ANY movie deserves that criticism, it’s this one.

Brave is a typical 90’s Princess movie, released twenty years late. Rebellious princess? Check. Unwanted arranged marriage? Check. A lesson about being true to oneself, or accepting your loved ones for who and what they are? Check. A tragic misunderstanding that fuels the drama for AT LEAST half the movie? Check check CHECK!

The movie is gorgeous to look at, and the Scottish setting is unique, but that’s all that can be said about Brave. It’s otherwise an OK at best movie that only ranks higher than the previous three due to being admittedly good, but not great, in all departments.

Had it tried being more original, it would have scored much higher.

8- The Princess and the Frog

You gotta dig a little deeper!

So imagine you’re an African-American girl back in 2008. Disney has announced its next movie, and it stars a black girl, AND she’s an official Disney Princess! You’re excited, you’re giddy, you can’t wait to see a girl who looks like you on the big screen with a tiara, and a beautiful dress and all the works. THEN THAT GIRL SPENDS TWO THIRDS OF THE MOVIE AS A FROG!!!

Seriously, Disney? Your first African-American princess, and you pull THIS on us!?

Buuuuuut credit where it’s due. The movie is fucking GORGEOUS, the writing is top notch, the villain superb, the music slaps, the Princess is likeable, and the moral? FANTASTIC! This is a movie I’d GLADLY show my daughters, if I had some!

But I just can’t overlook that Tiana is a frog for most of the movie. That would have been fine in the 80’s, but in 2009? When representation in film was starting to be taken more seriously? Disney, please.

7- Aladdin

A whole new world, a dazzling place you never knew!

I almost feel like this movie should be disqualified from lists like this because it’s the only one where the Princess ISN’T the title, or at least the main character. Yes Jasmine has a strong role in the plot, but she’s not our protagonist.

But…oh who am I kidding? I LOVE this movie, and I do mean EVERYTHING about it! I love the music, I love the characters, the art, the plot, the writing…EVERYTHING!!!

Ah, but why rank it so low? Because this is a ranking of the Disney PRINCESS movies, and like I said below, Jasmine ain’t the main player here. If this was Jasmine’s movie, it’d be number 3 at the very least!

Also as a side note: the movie has not aged well in its depiction of Arabian culture. AT THE TIME it was progressive to show Arabs in a positive light, but these days, we can’t ignore that the cast is all white…

6- Moana

One day I’ll know how far I’ll go!

Let me just get this out of the way: when it comes to the casting, the art direction, the visuals, the setting, and the music? Disney fucking hit it out of the park! A special round of applause HAS to go to our main star, Auli’i Cravalho, who really nailed the role of Moana…as her first major starring role! Jesus Christ!

But…when it comes to PLOT? The movie is paint-by-the-numbers Disney fare. A princess goes on a journey to save her people, and in the meantime she discovers herself and becomes stronger? We’ve seen that already dozens of times!

5- Tangled

I’ve got a dream!

After a decade of…whatever the fuck Chicken Little turned out to be, Disney decided to get back to its roots and give us fairy tale musicals. Princess and the Frog was pretty good, but Tangled’s the movie that got the ball rolling for Disney’s BEST decade since the 90's!

Honestly, this movie is Disney doing what they do best, doing it how they do it best. The plot’s tight, the characters are fantastic, the artwork is GORGEOUS, the jokes are funny; it’s one of Disney’s best! It really, really feels like a modern day fairy tale!

BUT, I do have critique…the songs. The songs in this movie are OK, not gonna lie, but they never stuck to me like other movies have. I mean, I like “I got a Dream,” but besides that? Nah, the songs ain’t it. Sorry.

Still a wonderful movie that deserves a watch.

4- Mulan

You’ll bring honor to us all

I can’t stress this enough: the 2020 remake is a DISGRACE to this animated classic! Seriously, I get not wanting to make a shot-for-shot remake, but JESUS CHRIST! They killed it!

The original Mulan was flawed, yes. It had a Chinese aesthetic, it was based on a classic Chinese folk tale, but the attitudes in storytelling were more Western. Characters are motivated by their own selfish desires; even Mulan herself ponders if she joined the army more for herself than to save her father. These are flaws that cannot be understood outside a cultural context.

But beneath all that lays a movie that speaks to multiple generations and cultures. A movie about a girl willing to risk her life for her father, about a brave woman finding out who she truly is. It’s a toe-tapping musical with awesome art, awe inspiring action scenes, and plenty of laughs.

HIGHLY recommended!

3- The Little Mermaid

Wandering free, wish I could be part of that world

Dang…It’s not every decade that you get a game changer like The Little Mermaid. While it wasn’t the first Disney Princess movie, it’s certainly the one that codified the franchise and set the standard. EVERYTHING about this movie is near perfect; from the art to the music, from the fantastic story to the unforgettable characters. There is hardly a flaw to be found!

Oh, and how about that villain? Ursula is up there with the BEST Villains in the Disney canon! And let’s not forget Ariel herself, one of the BEST princesses in the franchise, and a personal favorite of mine!

2- Sleeping Beauty

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream

I am not afraid to offer this hot take: this movie is Walt Disney’s masterpiece. As far as I’m concerned, this movie is the sum of all of Walt’s expertise in directing and animation: gorgeous to look at, fantastic to listen to, IMPOSSIBLE to turn away from, it’s a treat for the senses!

And if you play this movie after Snow White, you’ll see the differences in EVERYTHING! These are Walt Disney’s BEST animated human characters; not only are their proportions more realistic, but their facial expressions remain animated and dynamic! Just as an example, look at Prince Philip’s face as he first glances at Princess Aurora during her sixteenth birthday; that quick change from stunned admiration to coyness, it’s all so AMAZING!

And what amount of praise could be given to our main villain that hasn’t already been given? Why, it’s no exaggeration to claim her the BEST villain in Disney’s HISTORY! Often imitated, NEVER duplicated!

BEST- Beauty and the Beast

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…

What praise can be given to this movie that an Oscar nomination for BEST PICTURE won’t summarize? None, but the following hot take:

This movie is as close to perfect as Disney’s ever gonna get. This is no exaggeration, I cannot think of a single flaw that brings this movie down that is neither a nitpick nor a gross misinterpretation of the film. This is more than a movie for the ages, it’s a movie that showcases Disney at its absolute BEST!

If Sleeping Beauty is Walt Disney’s masterpiece, Beauty and the Beast is the Company’s masterpiece. Walt would have been proud.

Writes about Star Wars, teaching, Leftism, Disney, and Gaming.

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