All 13 Sci-Fi Disney Channel Original Movies - Ranked
If you were a child in the 90's, Disney Channel Original Movies were probably a staple of your childhood (and apparently they're still going?). They were usually in the fantasy or gritty realism genres, but a fair number of them were sci-fi, and now we've ranked all of the alien, clone, time travel, and superhero DCOMs since they began in 1997.
Disney Channel Original Movies, and Disney Channel in general really, has lost its family-friendly charm over the last few years and has defaulted to weirdly juvenile teen fare. Zapped is Exhibit A, featuring a high school girl whose "dog control" app malfunctions and begins giving commands to the boys on the basketball team. Whatever.
12. How to Build a Better Boy
This one is also from the last few years, and is therefore inferior, but at least it has a positive message thrown in there. The movie follows two friends who build one of them a "perfect" virtual boyfriend, only to discover that the relationship isn't as meaningful as it would be with a flawed but "real" boy. Yes, it explores similar themes to adult fare like 2013's Her, but (for those of us who are old enough to remember), it's really just a pale imitation of Pixel Perfect.
11. Can of Worms
I have dear memories of watching Disney Channel's Halloween line-up every year, but I generally skipped this one in favor of superior films like Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown. It was even too campy for an eight-year-old.
10. Zenon: Z3
The first Zenon was genius, the second was watchable, and the third proved that all good things must come to an end. But at least the existence of this movie allows us to refer to the Zenon films as the "Zenon trilogy"; that sounds so much more reverent than "duology" or "Zenon and the other one.
9. The Other Me
Clone hijinks usually make for good fun, just look at Orphan Black or even Sister, Sister (not clones, but still switched places enough times to demonstrate Disney's ability to handle the material). But The Other Me was just kind of boring, even as a child. Luckily, it had the above "Bringin Da Noise" scene, otherwise it would have been much farther down the list.
8. The Poof Point
Showtime's Seventeen Again was a more fun time travel movie featuring Tahj Mowry (and Tia and Tamera!) but The Poof Point was a perfectly solid, entertaining sci-fi adventure featuring our favorite Smart Guy.
Speaking of Smart Guys, remember when Emmy Rossum was in a Disney Channel Original Movie? This movie about a prodigy who uses futuristic physics to control a hockey puck was sweet, sentimental, and harkens back to a time when Disney championed the underdog.
6. Up, Up and Away
Up, Up and Away had essentially the same plot as Sky High, and was almost as charming. Another DCOM with a positive message for children, it's a heartwarming story about a boy who is afraid he won't live up to his family's expectations, but ultimately learns that he can find his own individual brand of specialness.
5. Zenon: The Zequel
In this sequel (I refuse to say "zequel"), Zenon once again saves her space station with the help of our favorite silver-haired pop star, Proto Zoa, but unfortunately without Raven-Zymone, Gregory Smith, or (most heartbreakingly) her iconic hairdo. It was unrealistic to expect this movie to live up to the first film, but it was a perfectly serviceable follow-up.
4. Pixel Perfect
Okay, now we're getting to the really good ones. Pixel Perfect, which saw Phil of the Future's Ricky Ullman build himself a "perfect" virtual girlfriend, was not only sweet and entertaining in its own right, but also set a positive example for young girls who are profoundly affected by unrealistic standards of beauty for women. Leah Pipes's Samantha was the Disney version of a Girl Friday, and a great example of a "real" girl before all those annoying Dove commercials ever existed.
3. Stepsister from Planet Weird
This movie about an unwelcome alien stepsister went off the rails at certain points, but it also contained comedic gold. One scene in particular (which, unfortunately, I couldn't find on Youtube) makes me laugh every time I think of it: "I find you vapid and shallow, Carter." "Vapid, shallow people have feelings too, okay??"
2. Smart House
Based on Ray Bradbury's chilling short story The Veldt, Smart House was probably the darkest of all the Disney movies, demonstrating the logical end of our obsession with artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and technological facilitation of intimacy. The idea of a "smart house" trapping you inside and insisting that you call her Mommy was terrifying; it's basically Siri if she permeated your entire home and decided she wanted to kill you. But that being said, who wouldn't want to jump on their bed and dance to B-Witched every day?
1. Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century
Not only the best sci-fi DCOM, but probably their best original movie of all time, Zenon is just a classic all around. From the catch phrase "zedis lapedis" to Proto Zoa's "Super Nova Girl" (above) to the fact that this futuristic movie took place in the "21st century" yet somehow came out in 1999, this movie was perfect, and no Disney-fied child who grew up in the 90's has forgotten Zenon.