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5 underrated Disney movies
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Walt Disney Pictures animated feature "Treasure Planet." Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures. (Submission date: 11/15/2002) - photo by Jeff Peterson
After almost nine decades and despite a few missteps, Disney is still drawing in audiences with animated hits like Frozen and Big Hero 6 as well as Kenneth Branaghs live-action reimagining of Cinderella."

But despite the number of "classics," it's only natural that a few films have slipped through the cracks.

Here are five Disney films animated and live-action that, for one reason or another, didn't get the attention they likely should have received. With the exception of "John Carter," all of these films are currently available to stream on Netflix. They are also available on DVD and Blu-ray and to rent or purchase via services such as Amazon Instant, Vudu and iTunes.

The Great Mouse Detective (1986, rated G) When people talk about the Disney Renaissance, they usually start with The Little Mermaid. However, the movie that got the ball rolling and singlehandedly prevented Disney animation from being shut down in the mid-1980s (as described in detail in Jim Korkis' two-part article "How Basil Saved Disney Animation") was this underappreciated gem.

Released a year after the financially disastrous The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective managed to turn a profit even after having its production budget slashed in half by new studio chief Michael Eisner. Its box-office performance convinced Eisner and Co. that Disney animation still had life in it, something that co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements proved in a big way with their next two features, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin."

The Great Mouse Detective is also significant as Disneys first animated feature to incorporate CGI (during a climactic scene inside Big Ben in which 2-D characters were animated and then inserted into a 3-D background of moving clock gears).

Most of all, though, its just a fun movie not to mention a fantastic way to get kids hooked on the world of Sherlock Holmes from an early age.

The Rocketeer (1991, rated PG) The Rocketeer could be one of the best comic book movies ever made. Unfortunately, it predated the current superhero movie trend by a full decade, so it never quite managed to find the audience it deserved.

And thats a shame, because much like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Rocketeer perfectly captures the feel of a classic 1930s serial, cramming together gangsters and FBI agents, rocket men, spies, evil Nazi plots and old-school Hollywood into a single, delightful movie.

It also contains tons of references to real-life figures. Timothy Dalton (the then-current James Bond) is especially great as the Errol Flynn analogue Neville Sinclair. Another baddie, Lothar (played by Tiny Ron Taylor), is based on horror icon Rondo Hatton. And Lost star Terry OQuinn plays Howard Hughes.

Largely on the strength of The Rocketeer, director Joe Johnston was called on 20 years later to direct a different period comic book movie for Disney: Captain America: The First Avenger. The Rocketeer is quite possibly the better of the two.

Over the years, there have been talks of rebooting the property, but frankly, its hard to imagine it being done any more perfectly a second time around.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001, rated PG for action violence) Theres no question that Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a step down from the string of hits Disney produced in the 1990s. Even in terms of animation, it just doesnt quite compare.

That said, there are still plenty of reasons it deserved a bigger audience than it got. For one thing, it was Disney animations first foray into science fiction (paving the way for a string of movies with sci-fi elements, including Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet). In lieu of the studios usual wells of inspiration, the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, Atlantis draws primarily on Jules Verne stories like Journey to the Center of the Earth. On that front, it does a fantastic job. There are even some nods to Disneys own 1954 live-action version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that film buffs will appreciate.

The art style is also very different (in a good way) thanks to comic artist/Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, who did designs for the film.

Likewise, the script is enjoyably off-kilter with tons of lines that will probably fly over the heads of most kids and some adults, too. (One of the writers credited is none other than Avengers director Joss Whedon.)

All of those things combined make for something that really doesnt feel much like a Disney movie, in all honesty, so its easy to understand why it didnt destroy the box office the way Disney films are supposed to. But families, especially ones with older kids (it is a little on the violent side for a Disney cartoon), should definitely consider checking it out if they havent already.

Treasure Planet (2002, rated PG for adventure action and peril) Unlike Atlantis, its not quite so easy to see why Treasure Planet wasnt a bigger hit.

First of all, its downright gorgeous. Blending traditional animation with CGI, an effect that is still stunning more than a decade later, it opted for a more classic Disney look. The character designs are polished, and the animation is some of the smoothest youll find.

Although criticized by Roger Ebert as gimmicky, the decision to set everything in space amid flying ships and grotesque alien species put a fun spin on a story that otherwise would have felt too familiar. (Not including Treasure Planet, there are at least nine different movie versions of Treasure Island, according to IMDB, including Disneys 1950 adaptation.)

It also featured some pretty memorable characters. Long John Silver (Brian Murray) is equal parts likable and hateable, as he should be, and Martin Shorts B.E.N. a marooned robot whos gone a little crazy is one of the funnier Disney sidekicks in recent memory.

Generally speaking, Treasure Planet received positive reviews, garnering a 68 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Picture. (It lost to Spirited Away.)

Despite all that, it bombed at the box office, earning just $38 million domestically (via Box Office Mojo).

John Carter (2012, rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action) John Carter should have been the beginning of a major new franchise. It had everything going for it: a talented director (Andrew Stanton of Finding Nemo fame), the support of Pixar head John Lasseter, great source material (Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom series), a script co-written by two Oscar winners and a Pulitzer Prize winner (Stanton, Brave director Mark Andrews and author Michael Chabon), gorgeous cinematography (including lots of stuff shot in Utah), award-winning special effects and a flat-out phenomenal cast.

As it stands, though, according to some estimates, John Carter might actually be the biggest box-office flop of all time.

One of its biggest problems may have been that Burroughs Barsoom novels were just too darn influential. Everything from Superman to Flash Gordon to Star Wars to Avatar owes its existence to Burroughs pulp hero so much so that John Carter itself was, ironically, perceived by some audiences as derivative.