Hidden gems to watch at Disney+ launch

Everyone has seen the adventures of Jack Sparrow, The Avengers and the X-Men. The Lion King, the Little Mermaid and Frozen are modern childhood essentials. But what about Captain Dan Holland, Tia and Tony, Jim Hawkins, Willow Ufgood or Madmartigan? Here are some perhaps lesser known Disney movies that are definitely worth checking out at launch.

10. White Fang (1991)

A young Ethan Hawk stars in this adaption of Jack London’s classic novel of the relationship between a Klondike gold prospector and a cross between a wolf and a dog, White Fang of the title. The two form a bond after rescuing each other and Jack when manages to tame White Fang. 

9. The Black Cauldron (1985)

The producers of The Fox and the Hound return with The Black Cauldron, a forgotten Disney classic that features the studio’s first foray into computer animation. It is perhaps a bit darker and more melancholy than your standard Disney flights of fancy but it is still a great adventure story.

8. Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)

 The Legend of Hell House director John Hough was the perfect director for this off-kilter story of brother and sister Tony and Tia, who have psychokinetic and telekinetic powers. While being pursued by an evil millionaire and his goons, Tony and Tia flee to Witch Mountain to learn more about their strange powers.

7. The Black Hole (1979)

Psycho’s Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster, Maximilian Schell and Ernest Borgnine are the crew of the USS Palomino spacecraft who come across not only a black hole but an abandoned spaceship and so our mystery begins.

6. The Sword in the Stone (1963)

Another overlooked Disney classic, the tale of King Arthur and Merlin comes to life in this version which is far better than the live-action iteration produced years later.

5. Treasure Island (1950)

Long before there was the Pirates of the Caribbean series there was this production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s epic swashbuckling adventure. Robert Newton’s Long John Silver is nothing short of brilliant on every level.

4. Mighty Joe Young (1998)

This faithful remake and retelling of the 1949 film has Charlize Theron raising an infant mountain gorilla as a child who become a giant of an ape. They are orphaned together at the start of the film; poachers kill Theron’s mother as well as Joe’s, so parents of really wee ones be warned. The special effects are the real star bringing Joe to life.

3. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

Perhaps a bit more recognizable than some of the other films on this list the undersea adventure of Captain Nemo, the Nautilus and a giant sea monster is as thrilling today as it was in 1954. The special effects at the time are just extraordinary.

2. The Rocketeer (1991)

Forgotten in the modern glut of superhero films is Disney’s produced The Rocketeer. Although it was a disappointment at the box office for the mouse, it has gained a cult following. A stunt pilot dons a rocket pack to fight gangsters and Nazis. Timothy Dalton is fantastic as the over-the-top Neville Sinclair.

1. Willow (1988)

Like The Rocketeer, Willow didn’t receive the recognition or attention it truly deserved until years later. George Lucas’s story has Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer safeguarding a special child from an evil queen, Jean Marsh as Queen Bavmorda. Willow continued actor Ron Howard’s string of films including Splash and Cocoon that established him as one of Hollywood’s top directors.

Top Photo: The Sword in the Stone, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Willow. Courtesy: Disney Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

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