Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Disney. Having been born in Florida, I have been around it for many years; and just like most kids, I grew up watching the movies, the Disney Channel, and dressing up as princesses and other characters. I have no problems with Disney…but I am getting a little annoyed.
In the past few months, there have been so many reports of live-action movies of classic Disney films. March saw the release of the live-action Cinderella movie, which went over pretty well from what I heard. Now the news of a live-action Beauty and the Beast movie in production has taken social media by storm. And it doesn’t stop there. Here are some of the other live-action reboots of Disney animated features that are apparently in progress: a live-action Mulan movie, a live-action Dumbo (which might be directed by Tim Burton), Pinocchio, and Anastasia (which is not even a traditional Disney movie). Sorry to all of the Disney fans who are jazzed about these announcements, but seriously? A LIVE-ACTION DUMBO? This is getting out of control.
Now, I get it, technology has changed, and a lot of cool special effects can be done; but is it necessary? We already have the animated features, so why recycle old material?
In recent years, it seems as though Disney has been scooting closer and closer to more live-action films, just judging on the change in animation styles. The last 2D animated film was The Princess and the Frog, then came the 3D animated Tangled, then Brave, and then Frozen. Now they’ve gone for the real McCoy by making more live-action movies…but remakes of their own stuff. They’re basically doing adaptations of adaptations.
Disney is known for having new—or somewhat new—ideas for their films. If you disregard their adaptations of classic fairy tales, they have had some really good original movies. They were founded on the idea of innovation and imagination, which is a legacy that has prevailed until today. So instead of coming up with an original concept for a live-action film, they’re going to tell the same story over again.
I crave for something new from Disney—most of us do. How about a princess that is a humanly achievable size? Or even plus-sized? How about a film exclusively about a prince? Or a story that isn’t about royalty at all? They could do more films involving the back stories of villains, like Maleficent (which is phenomenal, by the way). I love stuff like that; stories like the one in Maleficent show how capable Disney is at creating imaginative plots. They are brilliant.
The problem that I see, though, is that all of the films that are being announced are movies which are completely great just being animated features. I don’t necessarily want to see a live-action Mulan simply because the animated version was done so well, with great songs, great voice acting, and an awesome story (Will I, though? Probably). Anastasia, which let me remind you again, is not a Disney film, was apparently bought by Disney just so they could do a live-action remake of it. This movie is one of my favorites, and all of the criteria I listed for Mulan applies to this film as well. The great thing about animated movies is that they allow for anything to happen. Rasputin comes back from the dead as a zombie sorcerer? Yeah, totally doable in animation. A talking dragon spirit assisting a determined young woman? Absolutely possible in animation. Anything can happen in animation. Live-action, though, becomes very tricky. Plus, a live-action movie sets itself up for brutal comparison to the original film. I haven’t seen the recent Cinderella film, but I have read many mixed reviews about it, with several saying that there was too much story added to make it a full length film (the original is 74 minutes, whereas the remake is 105 minutes).
Granted, I could be very wrong, and these remakes could be amazing and take the stories in a direction that we were not expecting. But what’s the fun in watching a new movie where we’re 99% sure of what might happen at the end? What’s exciting about movies is the fact that we can go watch original stories and experience new elements of the creative spirit. You don’t get that with remakes most of the time. Some remakes do, but it’s not often. My only advice for these remakes—because I get consulted by Disney all the time for my advice—is that they at least do the story and the characters justice. I was really happy to hear that Belle would be played by Emma Watson, and that Alan Menken (wrote the original songs for the animated Beauty and the Beast) is working on the music. So there is some hope for this new BatB. If only I felt that way for the other remakes, if they actually do happen.