Just like a lot of you probably have, I spent the majority of the past few months watching Disney+. Ever since it arrived at our house on March 24th, I have been making sure that I got my mother’s money’s worth. I have watched all the Disney Channel classics, the golden age of The Simpsons and of course, the classic Disney animations. I am sure that we all know right now that recently Disney has been plaguing our cinemas with live-action remakes of these beloved animations. However, with Disney+ I was shocked to find out just how many remakes there actually are.
You have the obvious ones from Cinderella to Aladdin, to the more forgotten ones such as Pete’s Dragon and Lady & The Tramp. The most recent remake, Mulan, came to small screens behind a hefty payment on September 4th. The next few years for Disney will be them continuing remaking animations, with a whopping eleven films lined up to get the remake treatment, including The Little Mermaid and Snow White. How long can this go on for?
The trend of Disney remakes in quick succession started with Tim Burton’s rendition of Alice In Wonderland back in 2010. The perfect movie for an eccentric director, Burton expanded on the story, straying away from the 1951 classic, while maintaining several elements of the original tale. While reviews were mixed and some of the story, especially the climax, was questioned; it felt like an ambitious take on a classic. Sadly, that ambition soon disappeared down the rabbit hole, with remakes looking more and more like straight rehashes of the original.
The one big problem I have with the remakes is this: they are doing nothing but turning an animated movie that was around ninety minutes in length into a live-action movie that is usually just under the two-hour mark. The plot stays the exact same, as they cannot change anything drastic about the story. The stories of Beauty and The Beast and Aladdin were the exact same, only half an hour longer. There was a lot of filler added to these stories that was overall irrelevant. Finding out Belle’s backstory was not life changing, nor was the Genie’s romance with Jasmine’s handmaiden, Dalia. Songs got longer. More songs were added. Beautiful cinematic shots were spread out just for those sweet extra few minutes. Disney is doing the same things we do when our 2,000-word essays are just a few words short, and they are experts.
How strange is it though, that a live-action film can feel so lifeless compared to an animation? How the main characters can show less emotion in their faces than a drawing. Somehow it was possible. Taking away the fact that a lot of these modern movies utilize CGI characters, even the human characters can be hit or miss compared to their original animated counterparts; live-action Jafar for example, is much less intimidating than animated Jafar. A lot of the characters that we all loved in their animated forms seem to have been stripped of their charm and in replacement is a sense of unfamiliarity.
The new remakes are not all bad though. How can I go on for ages describing them as horrible when they have become the new money makers for Disney? Four of them have grossed over a billion in the box office! Disney released these remakes at the right time, at a time where a lot of the children who saw the originals in cinema have children of their own. It allows the film to connect with both audiences. Children get to see the story of the Lion King for the first time while parents can relive their childhood favourites in stunning modern-day visuals.
The stories of the films are timeless and will last generations; the rehashing of these movies allows them to adapt to current times. With criticism directed to how the majority of the Disney Princesses were portrayed in their original films, some of them being labelled “one-dimensional”, “bland” and “malleable”; the live-action remakes managed to fix these issues, making characters like Jasmine, Cinderella and Belle much more empowered, independent and even better role models for young viewers.
There is not much that we know about the future, but what we can be certain of is that for the next few years we will be seeing Disney remakes every couple of months. Is that a bad thing for everyone? No, not at all. The movies appeal to the common movie-goers, the people who just want to watch something to kill a few hours, maybe go on a date, or take the kids, whatever. Is it a bad thing for people who need to watch and review them? Kind of, because the flaws are obvious. You can see why a lot of the critical reviews are mixed, while the audience reviews are high. They are meant to be a mindless nostalgia-trip while also functioning as Disney’s cash cow for the next decade or so. The only thing I ask for is please do not mess up the Hercules remake. Please.