Disney’s first big foray into the realm of computer animation would prove to be a box office disappoiuntmen in 1982, but garner a legion of fans over the years for its revolutionary design work and the influence it still continue to have in science fiction today. Jeff Bridges stars as Kevin Flynn, video game programmer, who is ripped off of several ideas by an unscrupulous power hungry man named Ed Dillinger. Dillinger soon starts a meteoric rise to the top of a powerful global corporation, Encom, while the computer that runs it has become so powerful that it is a life-force unto itself, thinking and talking (not to mention plotting world domination). Flynn tries to hack into the computer to get evidence of Dillinger’s theft, when the Master Control Program sucks Flynn into its own cyber-world, dubbed “the grid”, where programs in the voice and form of the programmers that created them are mere toys by which Master Control Program uses for its own enjoyment. Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan and David Warner also star in this film by Steven Lisberger.
1985’s THE BLACK CAULDRON represents Disney at its nadir as an animation studio, resulting in a box office failure and years of obscurity. It’s first PG-rated animated feature struggled to find an audience clamoring for its dark and violent tones. However, it has garnered a significant cult following over the years, with its tales of swords, sorcerers, and black magic-infused battles brought to life with stunning visuals that incorporate the studios first forays into computer-generated elements into its hand-drawn animated cels. Does it deserve obscurity, or is it about time to reappraise a hidden gem in Disney’s vast and storied filmography?
Disney collaborated with Paramount Pictures to make a fairly adventure for audiences that were a bit older in DRAGONSLAYER, a rousing but somewhat brutally dark tale of a sorcerer’s apprentice who must undertake the treacherous journey of slaying a dragon that regularly consumes the women of a nearby village as a peace offering. Adventure and one amazing dragon, perhaps the best ever put to film, make this a notable entry for lovers of 1980s fantasy flicks.
The Disney Renaissance kicked off with this smash hit animated feature that brought the studio back in a major way, THE LITTLE MERMAID! Featuring great vocal talent, quality animation, and a killer score and soundtrack, it delighted a generation, and will delight many more, with its story of Ariel, a teenage mermaid who dreams of love with a hunky sailor prince, Eric, only made possible through a bad deal with a sea witch named Ursula.
Rick Moranis stars as lovable dad and ambitious college professor Wayne Szalinski, who has recently become something of a laughing stock to his peers when he dares to introduce a potential way to drastically reduce the size of everyday objects. His own experiments have proved futile, but a fluke accident causes the reduction machine to finally work — too bad the Szalinski children are the ones in the ray’s path, along with the rambunctious neighbor kids, the Thompsons. Wayne accidentally tosses the kids out with the trash, causing the miniscule kids to have to venture through the entire yard and hope they can grab the attention of their parents, and, hopefully, the professor can figure out a way to grow them back to normal size again. Making it there proves more difficult than it would seem, with treacherous bugs and other pollutants blocking the way at nearly every turn.