Walt Disney Studios has released a collection of princess movies in live-action and animation for the past century, constantly adding new heroines to its wonderful world of Disney leading ladies. But with some of these movies comes a sequel or two that rarely gets recognition and almost never gets as much praise or same theatrical release as the original. Disney might’ve been inspired by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, among other ancient fairy tales, to tell its version of princess stories, but its sequels show the company is more than capable of coming up with original adventures for its women protagonists. In fact, more than half of the 2D-animated Disney princess movies were given follow-up films.
With the exception of the theatrically released Frozen II that premiered in 2019, Disney princess movie sequels have typically gone straight to video. But a lot can come from the five-dollar VHS tapes flung into the bin of unappreciated goods at your local retail store. Here are the most underrated movie sequels of the bunch, ranked.
9 Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World
If Pocahontas did not give enough of a punch to the gut when the titular Indigenous teen and her love interest John Smith did not end up together, its 1998 sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World will do the trick when it blind-sides you with the information that he is dead… or is he? Once Pocahontas meets John Rolfe, she travels to England to create peace with her country and his. But Governor Ratcliffe has not changed from his ways in the first movie and still serves as an antagonist who desires to go to war with the Indigenous People to win the treasure they do not actually have. The movie unfortunately suffers from an unsettling change in animation from the first movie, but the plot and songs make it simple enough for children to understandably enjoy.
8 Cinderella II: Dreams Come True
Cinderella II‘s tagline read that “the magic did not end at midnight.” And that proved to be true in this 2002 73 minute motion picture. Cinderella II: Dreams Come True is an assortment of three different stories, all taking place after her induction to the throne. In one, she adjusts to her new life in the castle. In the next, Jaq magically turns into a human and learns the valuable lesson of loving himself for who he is, even if he is a rodent. In the final tale, Cinderella graciously helps her stepsister Anastasia find love, despite having been a victim to her bullying in the first film. The stories are told from the perspective of the mice who were all there to witness their human bestie in action, and throughout the film, they compile these memories into a book for her to read in the end.
7 Mulan II
After saving China in the 1998 movie Mulan, the titular heroine is sent to escort three princesses across the country in this 2004 sequel. Meanwhile, she and General Shang just announced their engagement, much to the dismay of Mushu who can no longer be her guardian, providing she takes the army captain’s hand in marriage. On the topic of marriage, Ling, Yao, and Chien-Po also reprise their roles and fall head over heels for each princess they’re tasked with to protect. Mulan II is certainly entertaining, and where would we be without the inspirational pop anthem “I Wanna Be Like Other Girls”? However, this conclusion does not have a snowball’s chance of living up to the triumph that was the initial film. It degrades the characters, especially Shang, into mockeries of their original counterparts, with the film focusing more on lighthearted humor than anything serious.
6 Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
This Beauty and the Beast Christmas special premiered in 1997. Apparently, the Beast hates Christmas, but Belle tries to plan for the holidays in hopes to get him to lighten up. All the while, a sentient pipe organ attempts to ruin their relationship so as to not return to human form. But soon, the instrument, called Forte, gets destroyed and Belle and the Beast happily celebrate Christmas with each other and their friends at the palace.
5 The Return of Jafar
Jafar was banished into a genie lamp in Aladdinbut in The Return of Jafar, he is dug up by a crook called Abis Mal. Jafar messes with his three wishes so that he can return to Agrabah and get revenge on Aladdin. This movie served as a pilot episode to the Aladdin series that was broadcast on the Disney Channel. The movie performed successfully, having become one of the best-selling home video films with a gross of $ 300 million.
4 The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
With giant blue eyes like her mom and thick dark hair like her dad, Melody is the first and currently only Disney princess child. Where her mother was an ocean native who was forbidden from going to land, Melody walks on two legs and is forbidden from going to the sea once Ursula’s sister Morgana threatens her family. But like her mother, Melody does not listen and ventures out to the ocean anyway, where she gets the chance to turn into a mermaid. The Little Mermaid ends with Ariel remaining a human so that she can be with her true love Prince Eric, but The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea gives humans and merpeople the chance to live together in harmony.
3 Aladdin and the King of Thieves
This Aladdin sequel takes place just before his and Princess Jasmine’s wedding. As they near the ceremony, Aladdin discovers a dagger that belonged to his father and recalls that he’d abandoned him years ago. They spend the film trying to relocate his dad and also deal with 40 thieves who attempt to steal a piece of treasure. Aladdin and the King of Thieves was more successful than The Return of Jafarhaving sold 10.3 million copies and becoming the sixth best-selling film video release in 1996.
2 The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning
Like Tarzan 2 or The Lion KingDisney’s continuation films often consisted of prequels which included Ariel’s Beginning. The last movie of the animated Little Mermaid franchise, this 2008 movie tells the story of how Ariel’s mother died, causing King Triton to ban music from the kingdom. Being the rebellious teen she has been known to be, Ariel seeks music anyway, but the sound of a harmonious melody only makes her want more, and it’s now her responsibility to bring music back to Atlantica.
1 Cinderella III: A Twist in Time
The 2007 movie A Twist in Time shows what happens when Lady Tremaine gets her evil hands on the Fairy Godmother’s wall. She uses it to reverse time and go back to the day when Cinderella fits the glass slipper and enlarges it so that it can instead fit her daughter Anastasia. Not only this, but she also wipes Prince Charming’s memory of Cinderella, and it’s up to the titular princess and her mice friends to get back her prince. Cinderella III performed surprisingly well in comparison to other direct-to-video sequels. While Dreams Come True only earned 11% on Rotten Tomatoesthe tertiary film received a 75% score, made over $ 80 million in sales, and has been considered one of the best Disney princess movie sequels ever.
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