Disney Plus has finally launched in the UK – and it’s fair to say you have a lot of content to choose from.
But aside from your Frozens and your Toy Story’s, Disney Plus’ vast catalogue actually makes it easier than ever to dive in to one of the most varied and exciting film studios in modern movie history.
Below, we’ve chosen seven of our favourite hidden gems you should watch whilst stuck bored in self-isolation; from high-fantasy adventures, detective dramas and even a mind-bending sci-fi tale.
The Black Cauldron
In this writer’s opinion, the most underrated Disney film of all time, and a definite must-watch for any film fan worth their salt.
Misunderstood at its time and maligned as a dark fantasy for children that failed to find a market, The Black Cauldron is a fascinating de-tour in Disney history, after the death of Walt Disney but before the studio’s renaissance in the 90s.
Adapted from a series of high-fantasy novels set in a mythical land based on Wales, the story follows plucky orphan Taran, who must team up with a kidnapped princess, a vagabond bard and a mysterious creature to find the titular MacGuffin and stop the sinister Horned King from raising an army of the dead.
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or The Witcher, or like your fantasy on the darker side like The Dark Crystal, this is the film for you.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Angela Lansbury plays a singing witch during the Second World War, what’s not to love?
An experimentation in the mixing of live-action with animation, the film sees reluctant heroine Miss Eglatine (Lansbury) on a quest to find a missing book of spells to aid Britain’s efforts against the Nazis.
It all gets a bit Mary Poppins with a journey to a magical island populated with cartoon creatures brought to life, but Bedknobs and Broomsticks remains an interesting and niche watch.
This is actually the second time Disney has made use of Treasure Island, since the Mouse House also made a live-action and pretty traditional adaption of Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling classic in the 1950s.
Swapping the period piece for a steampunk adventure set in the farthest reaches of space, this animated re-telling of the familiar story brings Stevenson’s much-loved character, including the iconic Long John Silver, in to a whole new light.
It flopped upon release and has never really experienced a critical re-think, despite the fact that its a very interesting premise that is more or less pulled off successfully.
The Great Mouse Detective
Listen, if Disney are looking for another property to give The Lion King treatment, they could do a lot worse than look no further than The Great Mouse Detective.
Basically, the film asks the question: ‘What if Sherlock Holmes was actually a mouse?’
A more traditional Holmes re-telling than, say, the modern-day Sherlock, The Great Mouse Detective is a great thriller for kids and contains one of the most overlooked Disney villains ever in the form of Professor Ratigan – who has a great theme song to boot.
The Rescuers Down Under
You’ve probably seen the original film, The Rescuers (if you haven’t – rectify that immediately) where a mismatched mouse duo (yes, Disney were obsessed with apparently making all their characters mice at one point) on the hunt for a missing girl, this sequel takes things…well…Down Under.
Once again, we follow Bernard and Bianca as they reunite to rescue orphan Cody from the clutches of a poacher, who travels to Australia in search of a rare bird.
The Outback gives this film a truly epic feel, and despite being made thirty years ago, it looks as good today as it did when we first watched it as kids.
The Return of Jafar
No, you’re not reading this wrong. This is the sequel to Aladdin you’ve probably never seen before.
The Return of Jafar is the shining jewel in Disney’s ‘direct-to-video’ crown, where the company made several sequels to beloved films basically on the cheap and didn’t send them to theatres.
Some are good (The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride) some are…not (Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time) but out of them all, The Return of Jafar is the only sequel to closely match the brilliance of its predecessor.
Basically, we all know the live-action Aladdin re-make made over a billion at the box office, so we’d like this made next, please.
Meet The Robinsons
A slightly more modern addition to the library, here. The charming Meet The Robinsons kind of disappeared without a trace when it debuted in 2007, but we think this should be rectified immediately.
Showcasing just how far Disney animation has grown, in terms of technical achievement this film is a clear precursor to Frozen and Moana.
It also boasts an intriguing, heart-warming story following orphan Lewis, who goes on a time-travelling journey to find his family.
There’s also a great twist involving the creepy Big Bad, Bowler Hat Guy, which we obviously won’t spoil here. But it will make you cry.
You can stream all of these films via Disney Plus now.
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