Disney’s Live-action remakes

The Falconer examines and reviews Disney’s recent trend of remaking their beloved animated films, including “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast,” as well as upcoming “The Little Mermaid” and “Peter Pan & Wendy.”

A twinkling star lights up the foggy, blue night. A train crosses a bridge above a winding river. A flag flies high atop a castle as fireworks light up the night. As the iconic Disney movie intro starts to play, live-action characters appear on screen, shattering the magic of the animated original. 

Disney’s classic animated films are treasured by people across many generations. They are so iconic that in theory, revamping them seems like a no-brainer — but it is still unclear whether or not these movies have been done justice in their live-action form. Live-action films, for the most part, do not measure up to their animated counterparts because they become less watchable for little kids, and the animals and inanimate objects talking does not work. On the whole, they are typically unnecessary downgrades of the original animated version, although they do occasionally offer a new perspective on these traditional films and include very modern elements. 

The original version of “The Lion King” was released in 1994, and the hand-drawn lions allowed audiences to watch the vibrantly colored animals in the Pridelands. Its live-action counterpart, on the other hand, features the true roaring lions that one associates with the African savannah, and they make the graphics of the story less suitable for younger audiences. In particular, when Simba’s dad dies, it appears that an actual lion lies on the ground, unmoving. Further, having realistic animals talking on screen is strange and does not translate as well as the cartoon version does. Animals in real life do not speak English, so it is unclear why Disney thought that this concept would work in the live-action “The Lion King.” To rub salt in the wound, it also was not cheap for the mediocre results that the live-action produced, as it cost an estimated $260 million to create the live-action “The Lion King,” released in 2019. 

Many young children also grew up watching the brown-haired bookworm princess in a yellow gown with her entourage of dancing silverware. In live-action form, however, some of these concepts are not appealing. While the computer-generated version of Beast in “Beauty and the Beast”’ is remarkably well done, the dancing candelabra and cutlery are very out of place and create an uncomfortably hallucinatory scene that is both bizarre and unwelcome. The live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” released in 2017, is very different from the animated version because of the CGI effects involved. Creating Beast took a whole team that had to be on set as well as adding on the visual effects after the filming. The actor who played Beast, Dan Stevens, essentially played his part twice. First, he walked on stilts and in a big suit to make him look the size of Beast. Then, he would go through the scenes a second time and these two versions would be overlaid to create the final result. None of this was cheap, according to the New York Times, who estimated that this project cost $300 million. The cartoon beast, many kids could handle, but seeing him climbing through his castle and into the dark dungeon looking like a true beast from one’s nightmares is much more terrifying. Parents likely would not want their six-year-old watching that.

“101 Dalmatians,” released in 1961, features an eccentric woman who kidnaps many, many puppies; this idea is already odd in its caricature form but in its live-action counterpart, “Cruella,” it is even stranger. With this realism comes more harsh emotions than the cartoon version, especially when Cruella becomes angry when things do not go her way. While these plots are not exactly alike, they feature similar characters and ideals; additionally, there are more advanced ideas such as homelessness and theft. The movie’s rating is PG-13, whereas “101 Dalmatians” is for all audiences. However, what is done exceptionally well in “Cruella,” released in 2021, is the music, which does not even come close to comparing to “101 Dalmatians,” with songs such as “Call Me Cruella” by Florence and the Machine, an original, and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin” by Nancy Sinatra. Still, even the music can be a bit unsuitable for young children as it is more moody with a rock-and-roll twist that can eliminate a certain watcher. 

In April of 2023, Disney announced that Moana was also going to be converted into a live-action movie. While there are some things that Disney has done right with these movies—such as their musical playlists and special effects— there are also a great deal of concerns to consider with this particular movie. When Moana tries to “go beyond the reef” in her boat for the first time in the animated version, she is plunged underwater and her foot becomes caught in coral. In the animation, this may already be slightly frightening for younger audiences, but with a real-looking girl, this could be downright terrifying if it is not done carefully. 

In under a month, the live-action movie “The Little Mermaid” is set to come out. In a teaser released by Disney, waves the size of small mountains and realistic coral reefs are featured, along with a mermaid played by actress Halle Bailey. Nowhere was there any imagery of Flounder, Ariel’s fish friend, which would be very strange if a real fish was involved as a fish talking would be quite out there. Ursula, who is usually considered the villain in Ariel’s story, was also not shown, and this character in CGI could be frightening for children. Disney fans will find out how Disney will work through these issues on May 26, 2023. 

Overall, live-action movies fall short of their original, animated versions: the talking animals or inanimate objects are strange, they are less suitable for young audiences and they retell the same old story in a less enthralling way.

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