So, as you’ve probably heard, Disney has been announcing a slew of live action remakes to their animated features of yesteryear. Along with their fairly recent purchases of Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm, Disney seems to be betting on name recognition instead of faring into the new territory of originality. Even their new animation, like Frozen and Wreck it Ralph, are awaiting sequels. And it used to be just the sequels, but now they’ve gone full speed ahead into the realm of remakes. Which saddens me. The live action remakes, especially from Disney, tend to earn plenty of money, but don’t seem to compare to the quality of the original, which is why I balk at these announcements. Pixar seems to be the most original part of Disney, to no one’s surprise. But even they are doing several sequels.
If you take an honest look at Disney animation, most of the films before the 90s barely had enough content to fill a feature length film, usually made with plenty of filler material like singing and dancing. Later, the animators went into more depth and got us good films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and more. But I don’t have much faith in the live action remakes of any of these.
Before going through those announced, let’s recap the films that have already gotten the live treatment, to see where they came from and the direction they might be taking.
As far as I know, the first live action remake of a classic Disney film came in the form of 101 Dalmatians. Don’t remember it? Good. It’s been a while and didn’t really add anything, even if they created a sequel to that.
Alice in Wonderland
Then we had Alice in Wonderland (which semi-quasi counts as a remake, even if it’s really an adaption of Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass and serves more as a sequel to Alice in Wonderland). Truth be told, Alice in Wonderland fascinated Walt Disney, and he experimented with combining cartoons with a live action girl before creating the animated movie. But the Tim Burton live action film didn’t really have the magic, just the creepiness (especially the Queen of Heart’s head). And it looks like it will get a sequel.
Mirror Mirror came out in 2012, although it’s not actually by Disney (despite what I thought). In the same year came Snow White and the Huntsman. So don’t expect to see another Snow White film come out for a while. By the way, I didn’t think either movie was very good. Why, even the original Snow White, dare I say it, wasn’t that great (blasphemy!), spending most of its time in dance and song.
Then came Maleficent, which actually put a twist on the Sleeping Beauty story (except that twist had already been done in Frozen, so it didn’t come as such a big surprise). A bit more well regarded and less campy than other remakes that have come through, many people still didn’t like it that much. But it made money.
Cinderella came out this year. I didn’t see it, because it looked to be the same thing as the original (sans mice). And that’s what I fear will be the fate of many of these upcoming films. Why see it in live action when you’ve seen the cartoon, which is often cleverer (hence the mice)? Yes, a lot of these movies were made to make up for the lack of special effects possible for the time, but just because we can through in some magic effects doesn’t mean we should. Anyway, this film, from what I read, was harmless and charming enough, but didn’t give a compelling reason to see it.
Enchanted isn’t based on any particular film. Instead, it’s a live action remake parody of every classic Disney film, complete with all the camp you would expect from live action Disney. Fun enough, but not a good sign for what may come with some of the more serious titles.
Then there’s the show Once Upon a Time, which has done most Disney movies, including Frozen and, in a way, Maleficent, and looks like it will tackle Pixar’s Brave. It hit a low point for me when it used Cruella De Vil as a super villain. But all of the upcoming films pretty much have been done in this show, making them a bit redundant, more so than they were. And then Disney’s decided to make a show called Descendents, which stars the offspring of Disney villains. It’s all a bit much.
So let’s go ahead and look at the announced and rumored movies.
The Jungle Book (2016)
My question on this one is how they’re going to do the animals? Actual animals with creepy moving mouths, or making them a little more animated? Either way, I can’t imagine this coming out pretty. Maybe I’ve seen too many Disney B-movies about talking animals, but I don’t hold out much hope for this.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Emma Watson as Belle. I can see her as bookish (thanks to Hermione) but can’t really see her as beauty (thanks to Hermione). To me, she’s still a little girl. So not very excited about this (pessimistic, no?)
A remake of Peter Pan, focusing on the fairy (who has her own series of CG animated direct to video movies). I feel there’s been too many Peter Pan remakes (including the upcoming one with Wolverine…I mean Hugh Jackman), and the original movie wasn’t that great to begin with. At least when I saw it again as an adult. Maybe kids would like it, but I feel these live action remakes are directed more toward adults as a form of nostalgia.
The Little Mermaid
Hopefully they don’t take cues from Once Upon a Time, which implied she was a lesbian. Other than that, I think this could work, although I also consider it in the category of Cinderella: unnecessary.
The premise of this movie would to focus on Christopher Robin as an adult. It sounds like they ripped this off from Ted. Which is scary enough. And how would they portray the animals? As real animals? As stuffed animals? Or just computed generated, like the Yogi Bear movie? This one makes me cringe.
Which one? Are they all the same guy? If so, is he a polygamous man, or does he just marry and divorce, marry and divorce? For someone name Charming, he never seemed to have much personality, in any of the movies.
Pinocchio wants to be a real boy so bad he’s going live action. Is that a good thing? Probably not, especially if he turns into a donkey. I saw a dumb tv movie of him years ago and don’t want to repeat the experience.
Night on Bald Mountain
The Sword in the Stone
This wasn’t really a great movie. There wasn’t much plot. It just had Arthur trying to keep up with Merlin’s antics before pulling out his sword at the very end. The real problem came from the fact that Disney originally only got the rights to the first section of The Once and Future King book, of Arthur’s youth. But even in the book, Merlin had more method to his madness, as an education to Arthur.
This would be a prequel to Aladdin, which would eventually lead to a live remake of Aladdin (and maybe The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves). It seems like this would be an animated movie, though, since the genie will have to be animated, and I imagine the genie world would be pretty crazy as well. Plus, we won’t get a Robbin Williams voice :(
I know I’ve been pretty harsh, but do any of you see a movie on this list that you’re excited for? Are there any movies that haven’t been announced that you would like to see?