10 American Animated Movies With Great Premises That Didn’t Deliver

ANIMATION – 10 American Animated Movies With Great Premises That Didn’t Deliver

9 American Animated Movies With Great Premises That Didn't DeliverIt’s not the idea, it’s the execution.  You can have the greatest idea for an animated movie ever, but if you don’t put together the right story and tell it in the most compelling way, it can fall flat on it’s face.

Too often I’ve been excited about the prospect of an animated movie only to have it  fall short of my expectations.

I don’t mean to be mean.

The people that worked on these movies worked their butts off.  They did their best to make the best movie they could. I actually KNOW people who worked on some of these movies personally.  I have nothing against the effort and art they put into making these movies. In fact, the stuff I saw them do was actually really great.  But for whatever reason, the movies just didn’t work out as well as they should have.

Perhaps we can learn something from these.

Let’s get started:

10. TMNT


Out of all the movie on this list, this movie came the closest to actually being good.  The character designs where amazing.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where great.  The action was superb.

It really felt right.

But the story was lacking. It was only okay.  There was nothing about it that really made this movie outstanding.

It’s really too bad, it’s not a horrible movie.  I own it, and I enjoy watching it for the action and the look of it.  It just didn’t turn out to be as good as it should have.

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9. The Road to El Dorado


Out of all the movie on this list, this movie has the least exciting premise.  When you hear the premise it doesn’t really get you all that exciting. That said, the pedigree behind the movie was incredible.

This was the movie that was made right around the time Dreamworks was first formed.  At the height of their headhunting the greatest artists and animators in the world.

Dreamworks potentially could have done no wrong here.

Visually, this movie was exactly what was promised.  It’s a masterpiece of animation.  The art direction and character designs are amazing.  The draftsmanship top notch.

But the story…well, it fell short.  It’s really too bad. This is a beautiful movie.

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8. Star Wars: The Clone Wars


Man, this movie got a lot of people excited.  It had the potential to  “fixing” the bad after taste of the Star Wars prequels.

Problem was, it was never meant to a movie.  It was just the pilot for the TV show released theatrically.

The show was animated overseas, the assets the show had to work with where limited.  The budget was that of a TV show, and the story wasn’t as ambitious or epic as the show later became.

It was a “meh” story.  It shouldn’t have been released theatrically. It disappointed.  It was a bad start to what eventually became one of the best animated shows on television.

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7. Astro Boy


Oh man, I love Astroboy.  I was excited for this movie.  How could you go wrong?

Simply adapt one of Osama Tezuka’s many great Astro Boy stories into a CG animated movie and watch the money come in. Simple.  The character has lasted this long for a reason.

So what happens? They ignore the source material and end up with some weird Americanized version of the character that lacks any of the “Kokoro” of the actual Japanese version.

Missed opportunity.  The movie looked good but it was really disappointing.

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6. The Black Cauldron


I’ve never read the  The Chronicles of Prydain books. I’ve heard from a friend of mine who read them as a kid that they were quite good.

This movie had the potential to be The Lord of the Rings of Disney animated movies.

Unfortunately it wasn’t.  I don’t know what happened during it’s production but the movie just didn’t grab anyone’s attention and the story didn’t quite get executed well.

Fans of the book series where disappointment and the movie has gained cult status as THE worst of the Disney animated movies.

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5. Beowulf


Wow, Beowulf.  This was an ambitious premise to tackle.  The epic of all epics.

Perfect for animation…but it wasn’t animated, it was motion captured.  And the characters where made to look as life like as possible, which put the movie in that odd “uncanny value” territory.

Then the adaptation of the story  which was written by non other than Neil Gaiman wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

The best thing in the movie was the dragon. I’m pretty sure, that part wasn’t  motion captured.

Great premise, good attempt at a mature animated movie.  I appreciated that part, but the overall movie was disappointing.

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4. Treasure Planet


FINALLY Disney was going to start making the type of movies I wanted to watch.  This movie had it all, Pirates, treasure, adventure, a proven story and it was going to be science fiction.

How can you go wrong?

I don’t know what it is about this but it just wasn’t as good it could have been.  I had VERY high hopes for this.

The art direction, the animation, the character designs, where all there. I even liked the song. It SHOULD have worked…but it didn’t.

This movie sealed the coffin on Disney movies moving further in this direction with their animated movies.

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3. Atlantis – The Lost Empire


Before Treasure Planet there was Atlantis.

This is the movie Disney wanted Miyazaki to direct.  More than Treasure Planet, this one really seemed like it was going to change Disney animation.

This was the closest Disney got to an animated Indiana Jones movie.

I was excited.  Mike Mignola was brought in to help with the art direction.  This was going to be like a high octane comic book movie.

Even some of the characters look like comic characters.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite deliver.  The story  wasn’t compelling enough.

The animation was great, the art direction was exceptional, but the characters designs were all over the place.  None of the characters looked like they belonged in the same universe.

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2. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas


Out of all the Dreamworks movies, this is the one that most disappointed me. Once again you have some of the best artists, animators and designers in the world working on a movie but THIS time the premise is AWESOME.

The adventures of Sinbad.  This promised to have some superheroics and monster fighting.  This sounded awesome!  Just going to watch a movie of the concept art alone would have been mind blowing.

So I went to the theater excited.  Finally the kind of animated movie I wanted to see coming from a major studio and it would be really well animated. Only to come out of the movie theater so darn disappointed.

The movie was as beautiful as it promised to be. The art was great, the animation great, the designs…where a little watered down and a touch generic. And I say this because I’ve seen the concept art of the characters which were more interesting than the final version. The action WAS there but it was empty.  I didn’t care. The story was lacking.  I could see what they were going for but it missed the mark.

That movie marked the end of hand drawn animation at Dreamworks.

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1. Titan AE


Don Bluth’s animated movies are really inconsistent at best.  Some of his movies are AWESOME and some are just down right awful.  I don’t know why. I don’t know the circumstances behind the inconsistencies.

All I know is that when I saw the trailer for Titan AE I was totally in.  It was the first, full blown attempt at an American hand drawn science fiction feature film by a big studio in years.

I couldn’t have been more excited.

The movie started off very promising, only to slowly become more and more meandering as it went.  It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t good either.  The characters where generic and the animation was rotoscoped, which puts the motion  in that “uncanny valley” place. Which I hate.

I own this movie. Once in a while I take it out and watch it.  Just the attempt at such an epic science fiction idea goes a long way in my book.

The idea was so great only to be so disappointing.  It’s really too bad.

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What About You?

What animated movie have you seen that had great potential only to not live up to your expectations?  Sound off in the comments. I’ll like to hear it.


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2 Comments

  1. Chelsea says:

    I understand why you would put Titan AE at number 1 but I’m going to say Princess and the Frog. Hand drawn animation was BACK! But it just didn’t have the same magic. It was good… but I wanted so much more.

    • Luis says:

      Wow Chelsea, thanks for the feedback. I totally understand where you’re coming from. You’re right, there was a lot riding on that movie only to have it just not be a home run. Very disappointing.

      My list is very subjective, I can see a totally different lists made by different people.

      One of the reasons “Princess and the Frog” didn’t make my version of the list though, was because I really wasn’t very impressed with the premise. Yet another “princess movie,” more of the same, with the same Disney formula didn’t really get me excited. That said, I felt the same about “Tangled.” That movie couldn’t have been MORE formulaic, even to the point of ripping off scenes straight out of “The Little Mermaid,” (love song on a boat) and yet it totally worked and was a very good movie. So, yeah “Princes and the Frog” could have worked with the right execution and it didn’t live up to expectations, but the premise of the movie wasn’t something I was very excited about to begin with.

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