- Disney has released a lot of animated films about princesses over the past few decades, but not all of them have been well-received by critics.
- “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) was Disney’s first full-length animated movie and it’s also the company’s highest-rated animated princess film, per critics.
- So far, all of the Disney-princess prequels and sequels except for “Cinderella III: A Twist in Time” (2007) have been dubbed rotten by critics.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Walt Disney Pictures is known for its magical stories, its impressive animation, and, of course, its princesses.
Over the past few years, princess films have been a cornerstone for Disney and the company’s released many royal original stories and adaptations. Although many of them have been critically successful, others have been panned by reviewers.
Here are all of Disney’s animated princess films, ranked by critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
It’s worth noting that the critic scores were up to date as of publication but are subject to change and this list is quite comprehensive but may not include every spin-off Disney-princess film out there.
“Mulan II” (2004) is a sequel some critics didn’t feel was necessary.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 0% critics rating, 43% audience rating
In this sequel to “Mulan” (1998), the titular character is engaged to General Shang and the two must prepare for their wedding while helping other princesses.
Not many critics have reviewed this film, but the few who did weren’t impressed. “It’s harmless, sure, but it’s also charmless,” wrote David Cornelius from eFilmCritic.com.
“Cinderella II: Dreams Come True” (2002) show Cinderella and Prince Charming as newlyweds.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 11% critics rating, 33% audience rating
In this sequel to the 1950 “Cinderella” film, the titular princess marries Prince Charming but has a tough time adjusting to royal life.
The film was met with a few harsh reviews from critics, with some calling it “dull” and others dubbing it a “nightmare.”
“Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas” (1997) follows beloved characters through the holiday season.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 13% critics rating, 55% audience rating
This film takes beloved characters from “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) and shows Belle trying to teach her love about the magic of the holiday season.
Critics generally disliked this film, with one writing that the film has no plot.
“Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World” (1998) shows Pocahontas as she travels to England.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 29% critics rating, 29% audience rating
In this follow-up to “Pocahontas” (1995), the titular character embarks on a trip to England in hopes of stopping a British-Indian war from happening.
Critics and audiences panned the film, with many calling it out for being a bit haphazardly made. As one critic wrote, “A slapdash effort, with none of gorgeous colours and animation of the first film and little of its emotional resonance.”
“The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” (2000) is a sequel about Ariel’s daughter.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 33% critics rating; 45% audience rating
In this made-for-video sequel to “The Little Mermaid” (1989), Ariel’s daughter Melody becomes a mermaid and gets caught up some evil schemes.
Some critics had mixed reviews, with some saying the movie was “charming” and others expressing disappointment in the film. As James Plath wrote for Movie Metropolis, “It’s not a bad movie, mind you, but if you’ve seen The Little Mermaid it feels like a knock-off.”
“The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” (2008) gives readers some insight into Ariel’s backstory.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 33% critics rating; 56% audience rating
This prequel to “The Little Mermaid” (1998), shows Ariel as a teenager trying to get her father, King Triton, to open up to the idea of music after he bans it following Ariel’s mother’s death.
Critics had mixed reviews about this film, with some saying it’s charming and filled with impressive music and others saying the movie just wasn’t necessary.
“Pocahontas” (1995) is about the daughter of an Algonquin chief and a European settler falling in love.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 56% critics rating; 64% audience rating
In the film, Pocahontas falls in love with European settler John Smith. Tensions rise when Pocahontas’ father, who is also the Algonquin chief, objects to their relationship and the settlers clash with the tribe.
Many critics noted that Disney missed the mark when taking on a story that is rooted in real events but some still enjoyed the film’s dreamy animation. As one critic wrote in TV Guide, “Overall, Pocahontas is a triumph as a visual experience (though the music is unusually bland), but a disappointment as a film.”
“Cinderella III: A Twist in Time” (2007) is a suspenseful film that shows what might’ve happened if the princess’s glass slipper didn’t fit.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 75% critics rating; 61% audience rating
This “Cinderella” film is the third in the series and it follows what may have happened if Cinderella didn’t end up becoming a princess.
Many critics were blown away by this sequel, applauding its occasional cleverness and dignity. “Sharp direction, a healthy attention to sillyheart detail, and warm voicework lift this sequel away from mediocrity at every turn,” wrote critic Brian Orndorf of DVDTalk.com.
In “Brave” (2012), a young princess breaks traditions and seeks a witch’s help.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 78% critics rating; 76% audience rating
A princess defies her family’s long-standing tradition by choosing to forge her own path without the help of a husband. She turns to an old witch for help, which creates chaos in her family.
Some critics appreciated this film’s take on breaking traditions but didn’t find “Brave” to be as compelling as some other Disney-Pixar movies. Critic Rafer Guzman from Newsday wrote, “The main problem is that Merida craves adventure but Brave limits her to mother-daughter psychodrama.”
A girl turns into an amphibian in “The Princess and the Frog” (2009).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 85% critics rating; 74% audience rating
Set in New Orleans, the story is about a girl dressed as a princess who kisses a frog in hopes he would turn back into a prince. In turn, she transforms into a frog and the pair go on an adventure through the bayou so they can become humans again.
Both critics and audiences alike praised the film’s style of animation and felt its classic style allowed the characters to have more personality.
Critic Matthew Lucas from The Dispatch wrote, “A pretty standard Disney plot, filled with funny sidekicks and jazzy musical numbers, but that is precisely what makes The Princess and the Frog so charming and ultimately so comforting.”
In “Mulan” (1998), a Chinese woman poses as a man to take her father’s spot in the military.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86% critics rating; 85% audience rating
China is under attack by the Huns, so the emperor begins to draft one man from each family to go to battle. Mulan poses as a man to take her sick father’s spot and she must train to fight in the war.
Many critics agreed that “Mulan” tells a meaningful story through beautiful animation and a compelling score.
“What’s terrific about ‘Mulan’ is its reaching for emotions that other movies run from: family love and duty, personal honour and group commitment, obedience and ingenuity,” wrote critic Richard Corliss from Time magazine.
Princess Rapunzel is trapped in a tower in “Tangled” (2010).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 89% critics rating; 87% audience rating
Rapunzel has been locked away in a tower ever since an old woman discovered her magical, age-reversing hair. When a good-looking thief climbs into her tower, Rapunzel demands he help her escape.
Many critics felt “Tangled” was a welcomed return to classic Disney princesses. Critic Claudia Puig from USA Today wrote, “‘Tangled’ braids strands of traditional storytelling and a contemporary sensibility with stylish if predictable results.”
A princess falls into a deep sleep in “Sleeping Beauty” (1959).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90% critics rating; 80% audience rating
As a baby, Princess Aurora is cursed by an evil fairy, so three good fairies care for her and try to keep her safe. The curse comes to fruition on her 16th birthday when Aurora falls into a deep sleep and can only be awakened by true love’s kiss.
“Sleeping Beauty” has been called a “masterpiece” by some critics and many have celebrated the film’s artistry. “The colours are rich, the sounds are luscious and magic sparkles spurt charmingly from wands,” wrote critic Bosley Crowther from The New York Times.
Two royal sisters must reverse an eternal winter in “Frozen” (2013).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90% critics rating; 85% audience rating
Queen Elsa has hidden her icy magic powers from everyone, including her younger sister, Princess Anna. When Elsa loses control of her powers and freezes her family’s entire kingdom, it’s up to Anna to reverse the eternal winter and save Elsa.
Many critics agreed that the style of animation in this film is breathtaking and truly brings the ice kingdom to life. Some wrote that they appreciated that the film focused on the sisters’ bond instead of a romantic love story.
As critic Maricar Estrella from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote, “Disney has another hit in its repertoire with this heartfelt story of sisterly love and one of the few films released in 3-D this year that splendidly incorporates the technology into the plot line.”
In “The Little Mermaid” (1989), a mermaid dreams of being a human.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93% critics rating; 88% audience rating
16-year-old mermaid Ariel wishes to be a part of the human world and makes a deal with an evil sea witch so she can do so. Ariel must woo the prince of her dreams in three days or she’ll become a part of the witch’s collection forever.
Many critics wrote that “The Little Mermaid” is appealing for anyone and felt it kicked off a new era of fun and compelling animated movies from Disney.
“‘The Little Mermaid’ – impudent, grandiose, a multilevel crowd-pleaser – almost returns the Disney animated features to their glory traditions of the ’30s and ’40s,” wrote critic Michael Wilmington from the Los Angeles Times.
A poor boy wishes to be a prince in “Aladdin” (1992).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94% critics rating; 92% audience rating
A poor boy discovers a genie in a lamp and receives three wishes. He uses the genie to help make Princess Jasmine fall in love with him.
Although “Aladdin” is considered to be a princess-centric movie, critics noted that Robin Williams’ hilarious performance as the Genie stole the spotlight in the best way.
Critic Michael Sragow from the New Yorker wrote, “What makes this animated feature such intense, giddy fun is the eruption of uninhibited parody that Robin Williams provides as the voice of the Genie in Aladdin’s lamp.”
To break a tragic spell, a beast must make someone fall in love with him in “Beauty and the Beast” (1991).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94% critics rating; 92% audience rating
An enchantress transforms a selfish prince into a terrifying beast and his castle staff into household objects. The only way to break the spell is for someone to look beyond the beast’s rough exterior and fall in love with him.
Many critics wrote that they loved the intricate animation of all the creatures in “Beauty and the Beast” and agreed that this is a timeless movie that will please just about anyone.
“There’s no doubting the craftsmanlike elegance of the film, summoning up with relish the spirit of classic fairytale Disney of the 50s and 60s,” wrote critic Andrew Pulver from The Guardian.
“Moana” (2016) is an adventure movie about a girl finding her place.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 96% critics rating; 89% audience rating
Princess Moana must sail across the ocean to reverse a curse placed on her island. With the help of demigod Maui, Moana battles larger-than-life creatures while finding her place within her community.
Although many critics felt the plot had been done before, they agreed that “Moana” gave an interesting spin on the classic princess movie.
Critic Leah Pickett from the Chicago Reader wrote, “The narrative is a fairly predictable hero’s journey – Maui even calls her ‘The Chosen One’ – but the movie is refreshing for its lack of a love interest; instead Moana learns how to chart her own course.”
“Cinderella” (1950) is about a girl transforming into a princess for one night.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 97% critics rating; 80% audience rating
Cinderella, who has been cruelly mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, isn’t allowed to attend the prince’s royal ball. Her fairy godmother appears and uses magic to craft Cinderella a beautiful gown and carriage to take her to the ball – but the spell only lasts until midnight.
Many critics wrote that they appreciated the craftsmanship that went behind creating this movie. “Excellent animation, marvellous colour, and lovely music make Cinderella a delight all the way around,” wrote Michael Scheinfeld from TV Guide.
In “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), a princess escapes an evil queen only to fall under her curse.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 98% critics rating; 78% audience rating
In Disney’s first full-length animated movie, Snow White escapes an evil queen by hiding in a cottage where seven dwarfs live. When the queen discovers Snow White is still alive, she poisons her and makes her fall into a deep sleep.
Today, this animated film is still praised for setting the bar high for all future princess movies. Critics have written that between its beautiful animation, captivating music, and exciting storyline, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is an all-around triumph.
Critic John C. Flinn Sr. from Variety wrote, “So perfect is the illusion, so tender the romance and fantasy, so emotional are certain portions when the acting of the characters strikes a depth comparable to the sincerity of human players, that the film approaches real greatness.”
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