When you’re talking about animated films, Disney is pretty much the gold standard. But there are also non-Disney animated films that deserve the same recognition and have also been a big part of our childhood.
1) The Land Before Time (1988)
The enormously successful The Land Before Time franchise started with the theatrical release of this animated film, which was produced by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and directed by Don Bluth. It follows the tale of a young Apatosaurus, Littlefoot, who meets four other young dinosaurs as they search the Great Valley, a land far away from famine and devastation.
The Land Before Time is often compared to Disney’s Bambi, the same coming-of-age story but here, it involves dinosaurs. While it has some dark tinge to it, The Land Before Time is a heartwarming and heartbreaking film that continues to appeal to the kids and the kids at heart.
2) Shrek (2001)
Another successful non-Disney franchise, the first Shrek movie was released in 2001. Boasting seamless computer animation graphics, this delightful fairy tale animated feature was produced by DreamWorks. The first film tells a story about the titular ogre who is sent to rescue Princess Fiona so that he could get his beloved swamp back. However, they end up falling for each other and getting married.
The late comedian and actor Chris Farley had done most of the voice and dialogue work for Shrek. But when he died in 1997, he left the project unfinished. Dreamworks then re-cast the voice role to Mike Myers.
3) The Prince of Egypt (1998)
The Prince of Egypt was DreamWorks’ first feature cartoon film that used traditional animation techniques. The celluloid animated re-telling of the life of Moses – basically the cartoon version of The Ten Commandments – did very well at the box office. However, it remains to be one of the most underrated animated movies. Great storyline, excellent voice work, and superb music, too.
4) Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Another successful DreamWorks venture, the first Kung Fu Panda animated film centers around an obese and bumbling panda named Po, who is a novice in martial arts. By mistake, he is bestowed with the mantle of the Dragon Warrior, who is set to clash with the evil Tai Lung. When it was released in 2008, it became a critical and commercial winner that spawned a successful franchise.
5) Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Rise of the Guardians is another DreamWorks animated film, released in 2012. The film tells a story about Jack Frost who is sent by the Immortal Guardians (Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman), to stop the evil spirit Pitch from engulfing the world in darkness. The last DreamWorks animated feature to be released by Paramount Pictures became a critical and commercial success.
6) Thumbelina (1994)
Thumbelina is an animated feature film directed by Don Bluth and produced by his own company, Don Bluth Ireland, Ltd. While the film was a commercial flop and a critical disaster at the time of its release, it has attracted a cult following. Some people even consider Thumbelina as one of Bluth’s finest works.
7) How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
How to Train Your Dragon is an animated fantasy feature film produced by DreamWorks that follows the tale of a young Viking boy who aspires to follow his tribe’s tradition be a dragon slayer. When he finally meets a dragon, he learns that there might be more about the creature than he assumed. Instead of killing it to gain acceptance by his tribe, the boy even becomes the dragon’s unlikely friend.
8) An American Tail (1986)
An American Tail is one of the most successful animated films in the 1980s. Directed by Don Bluth and produced by Amblin Entertainment and Sullivan Bluth Studios, it follows the adventures of a Russian-Jewish mice family as they emigrate to the United States. A young mouse gets separated from his family and must find a way to reunite with them as they try to survive in a new country.
9) Anastasia (1997)
Anastasia is a musical drama animated film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, produced by Fox Family Films and Fox Animation Studios, and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is loosely based on rumors that Grand Duchess Anastasia survived the execution of her family. While historians were not keen on the film’s fantastical treatment of Anastasia, the movie became a critical and commercial success.