If you’ve been reading a lot of my posts (and you really should have), you know that I’m a Disney fan. I’m a huge Disney Princess fan to be more exact. There’s a lot to love about them. I love the stories, the animation and the songs. But it seems like Disney is slowly and stealthily veering away from making animated films. I kind of understand as to why. If you’re the company that owns Marvel and Star Wars, why not diversify?
That doesn’t mean that Disney is forsaking the Disney Princess line. They’re still making them, you know. However, they aren’t the animated affairs with catching music and bright cartoony colors. Disney nowadays appear to be focusing on something Hollywood has been accused of doing because they lack imagination. They’re making remakes of their older films. But with a twist: Disney is now making live action adaptation of their successful animated films.
I didn’t realize that Disney has been doing this lately. It kind of snuck up on me. Before I realized it, Disney stealthily made live action adaptions of Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent (which is based on Sleeping Beauty but told from the point of view of the villain), Cinderella and The Jungle Book. And, in a few short months, Disney will be releasing Beauty and the Beast, starring Hermione… I mean, Emma Watson, who, apparently can sing. Who knew?
As a fan of the original Beauty and the Beast as well as Cinderella, I can’t really say how I feel about this new direction Disney is taking. I kind of like it and I kind of don’t like it at the same time. Which is why I decided to put my thought and feeling regarding this development in writing so I can try to work out how I truly feel about this recent development.
On one hand, I don’t like that Disney is now resting on its laurels and just going with what worked. My impression of Disney is that they’ve always been pioneers of a sort. They were the first company to use synchronized sound with Steamboat Willie way back in 1928. Disney was the first one to make a full-length animated film with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. They reinvented themselves during the Disney Renaissance when they moved to make their animated features more like Broadway productions, filled with musical numbers. With Pixar, they made 3D animation chic when they released Toy Story.
They put out cartoons, generally thought to be just for kids, enjoyable for all ages. They always had something new up their sleeve. It seems like Disney kind of lost their imagination as of late because of this. They’re still making great movies as of late. Moana was pretty good. Zootopia was great as well. But a lot of the films they released were either based on existing film franchises (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Finding Dory, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Pete’s Dragon and The Jungle Book) or not all that memorable (The BFG and The Finest Hour). It’s like they’re imagination think tank dried up and is running on fumes. It makes me really sad as I think this new direction marks the death of the Disney Princess era.
I also feel like there isn’t a need to remake an animated classic like Beauty and the Beast. This was the first animated film to win a Best Motion Picture award from the Golden Globes as well as being the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture in the Academy Awards. Is there a need to make one of the best Disney animated films into a live action production? I can see why they made the two live-action Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass movies. Those movies may have ties to the original animated classic but they have rather different stories. I can even see how The Jungle Book would work as live action as not many kids and even adults are familiar with the film outside the “Bare Necessities” song.
I’m also worried with their track record with remaking their old films. I can’t speak for The Jungle Book as I didn’t watch the live-action movie. However, I did watch the Cinderella remake and, while I did like it, it just doesn’t have the magic that made the original animated 1950 film. A lot of the elements in the 2015 remake just didn’t sit well with me. It was going for a realistic tone, which isn’t the way you should go with a fairy tale! Fairy tales are supposed to be clean cut and filled with childish wonder. Taking out the talking mice made it seem so impersonal. From the trailers of Beauty and The Beast, they are going to leave in the talking furniture, thankfully. But I’m afraid of what modifications they’ll to do it and other future live-action adaptations.
On the other hand, this is Disney we’re talking about. I’ve already mentioned that they are innovators of the film industry so I can’t see why they wouldn’t be able to work in some of that Disney magic with their live action films. Even if I didn’t like Cinderella, I do have to say it is a really gorgeous film. The sets and visuals are magnificent. I can say the same thing about the live action Alice movies. There is a certain artistic imagery that makes things pop out of the screen to make the films visually intriguing, even if it does look dreary at times.
And the new Beauty and the Beast live action film looks like they are going to copy a lot from the original animated film without trying to replace it. It’s more like it’s paying homage to the original film and trying to tell the story in a different way. Maybe they’ll flesh out the characters a bit more. In the Cinderella remake, the film made sure that we understand why the evil stepmother is evil and that the prince is more than just a perfect specimen of manhood. They’re given more to do and made them more relatable. I hope that they also do the same for Belle’s father and Gaston. Heck, I just hope they leave in Gaston’s Song in! With respect to the Beauty and the Beast main theme, Gaston’s Song is the best song in the film!
But I guess the best argument that can be made defending live action Disney remakes is that, well, this will be the version that younger generations will identify with. Every generation will have their own things that they will identify with. And some of them will be brand new and some will be things that may just be updated copies of older stuff.
It’s like the Transformers live-action films. I know the geeks who grew up during the 80s totally hate what Michael Bay did with Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and the rest of the Transformers. But the kids today have no idea about that one particular 80s cartoon the movies were based on. So, when they go out and see the Transformers movies, what they are seeing is their version. When they see the old 80s cartoon, they’ll look at them like its all weird.
I can see the younger generation of kids who grow up watching the live action movies and think that those will be the better version. They’d be wrong in my eyes, of course. But I can’t really deny the younger generation of something that can be theirs. I can’t force my version of something just because I like it better. These decisions and perceptions will be theirs and mine and they may not necessarily be the same one.
I guess I’m not totally fine with the live action remakes if they just simply copy what made the originals great. They would have to add some new elements to make it more than just a carbon copy. It would be great to leave in elements that call back to the time but they have to make it their own as well.
So, Disney. I’m fine with the live action remakes for the most part. Just don’t screw up The Little Mermaid too much, okay? That’s still my favorite movie of all time! And don’t have Ariel die of heartbreak like the original story! That would just make my heart break.
What’s your take on Disney live action remakes? Let me know in the comments section below!