How 3D animation has changed the magic of Disney movies



Disney Animation Studios in sunny Burbank, Calif.

For years, Disney has dominated every aspect of our world, from the films and TV shows that define the entertainment industry to the Mickey Mouse shirts hanging in almost every section of clothing stores. Known for its heartwarming classics, addictive tunes and beautifully crafted and distinct animation, Disney has set the standard amongst its competitors, such as DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Studios.

Despite the amount of success Disney has accumulated over the years, there has been a noticeable decline in its wonders as the company has become immersed in the 3D trend, completely cutting off its relationship with traditional 2D animation. 

Released in 2009, “The Princess and the Frog” is Disney’s last known 2D feature film. In the following year, “Tangled” kickstarted the studio’s transition to the world of 3D animation, which later introduced audiences to beloved films like “Frozen” and “Moana.”

With 3D animation now a trademark of the company, Disney has become so obsessed with the visual aspects of their films that the storylines have become more flat and too rushed.

Like many others, I am a huge Disney fan. At some point, I have watched every Disney movie in order, and, yes, this includes the non-princess films. However, I am less attached to the most recent films, because, to me, the excessive use of 3D has taken away from the brilliance that is Disney. 

As much as I appreciate Disney’s attention to craft, I can’t help but be disappointed by the lack of catchy tunes and memorable plots in their most recent films. “Raya and the Last Dragon” is a perfect example of the lack of Disney magic. The film stayed true to the tradition of an opening that details the background of the princess and whatever conflict she faces, but to my surprise and disappointment, there were no songs! That’s right, there were no tunes; the film was simply a dull adventure that incorporated a classic Disney element: a comedic non-human sidekick.

Truthfully, I have a better connection with the 2D films. While that might sound biased because I grew up with them, I just feel like they’re better than Disney’s recent releases. When I’m watching a movie, I’m more focused on the feelings that come over me rather than the aesthetic details. While visuals are important in conveying the emotions and mood of the characters or of a scene, I believe that what makes a movie special is the way it impacts the viewer emotionally. This is the part of the magic formula that Disney seems to have forgotten.

I recall watching “The Princess and the Frog” at eight years old and being so touched by the fact that a Disney princess not only represented me, but also inspired me to work harder and love my family more deeply. Walking out of that theater gave me a whole new perception of how love can transform one’s life for the better. That beautiful feeling I experienced is something I tried so hard to find in the many Disney movies that came after “Frozen.”

While it may seem unfair to compare such timeless films, I believe that if Disney wants to remain in the public’s good graces, they may need to revert back to 2D animation to reignite what has been lost. I feel like Disney has become less of a trendsetter and more of a follower, which seems out of character for them. They used to hold so much power over others when it came to animation, and now it looks like that reputation has faded slowly. New Disney films just lack charm and nostalgia.