Disney was once one of the most imaginative movie studios around. They brought fairytales to life and allowed audiences to enter magical worlds. Now, however, that creativity doesn’t rear its head nearly as much. Disney’s primary focus seems to be on live action remakes of their animated hits. It’s time this trend comes to an end.
The company used to make brilliant new live action films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Holes, and Tron, but now their entire approach to live action movies is to copy and paste their animated works. From Cinderella to Mulan and even to Lilo and Stitch, it doesn’t appear that any of their beloved animated films are safe.
It’s quite shocking and disappointing that such a creative studio would sink so low as to recreate the same movies shot for shot and resell them. Most of the new movies are the exact movie they’ve made before with no changes other than them now being filmed in live action. Several of them are made worse by removing elements that fans love, like Mushu from Mulan or any facial expressions from characters in The Lion King (which isn’t even actually live action). Regardless if they’ve made changes or not, one of the biggest crimes is that they drained color, brightness, and whimsy from the beautiful tales that had them. Making them darker and more dreary is a step in the wrong direction.
It was a cool idea to see how some of them would be done in a different medium at first, like with how The Jungle Book was approached, but now it’s gotten far too out of hand. Now they’ve just gotten plain lazy. There’s no writing, storyboarding, or thought needed. They just redo what they’ve already done.
There are some live action adaptations that have worked quite well, like Maleficent, Cruella, and Christopher Robin. What makes those films stand out is that, while they are based on Disney’s animated classics, they tell brand new stories. They don’t try to copy what has come before; they either give the world a new magical tale to enjoy using beloved characters or focus on how a classic story would play out if it went in a different direction. If more films were made like this, like telling new stories using these iconic characters and worlds, then things would be much more interesting.
Instead, what we have now is nothing but animation erasure. Disney builds up to these remakes like they’re something fans have been waiting for, and some people fall for it. There are some fans who talk about these newer movies as the definitive versions of the stories despite said definitive versions already existing for decades. Just because something is animated doesn’t mean it can’t be the definitive version of said media. For those who call these live action remakes “the adult versions,” there’s nothing adult about them. They’re just in live action (except The Lion King), and adults are allowed to enjoy animation. After seeing the live action versions once, most people prefer to watch the original anyway.
There are some movies in Disney’s library that could genuinely be great in live action. Hercules could be a Greek mythology epic. However, Mulan could have been a grounded and gritty war movie and was unfortunately just bad. It’s safe to assume they’d mess up any other future remakes in similar fashion, so why bother?
Thankfully, the animated classics are still easily accessible. Let’s hope that once this annoying trend is over that Disney will go back to making new live action films as great as their animated ones.