With the release of Beauty and the Beast I feel it is high time to address a debilitating issue I have with Disney. Their choice to make live action versions of the classic animated beauties is this exact issue. Now I know for a fact that many will openly disagree with me and this may be due to a number of reasons, such as nostalgic value or even just plain enjoyment for the films. However I strongly believe that the idea of even thinking about making live action instalments of some of the best animated films of all time is disgraceful and quite simply disgusting.
This chain of mediocrity began with ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in 2010 – and has arguably been on a downward spiral ever since. Alice in Wonderland managed to capture the absurdity and wackiness of Wonderland; but had some incredibly weak story beats that completely undermined the entire premise. It’s arguably the success of this movie that pushed Disney into this current trend – it’s just a shame that the only successful thing about this live-action adaptation was just how well it did at the Box Office.
Maleficent came next and was exceptionally bland. To be completely honest the only interesting thing about the film is the character of Maleficent, as portrayed by Angelina Jolie, and even she doesn’t steal the show. It’s an admirable attempt to flesh out one of Disney’s more iconic villains, but it ultimately doesn’t do anything revolutionary.
From here though, things only got worse and worse. In my eyes, the remake of The Jungle Book made me shiver in disgust. I love The Jungle Book for its quirky charm and in all honesty, despite my dislike for musicals, I thoroughly enjoyed the songs in the film for the same reason. The best thing about the classic Disney films is that you could quite easily become immersed in the sheer simplicity of it and so revert back into a childlike state of mind. It was almost refreshing. Yet the remake largely abandoned this in an ocean of CGI mess that did nothing to sell the world to me. I was genuinely horrified by the experience.
In my personal opinion I think that the main reason why the live action Disney films fail miserably to capture the charm of the original is due to their distinctive lack of drive and emotion. This is because they try too hard to adhere to modern standards of animated films which thereby cause it to lose out on some of their most unique traits. As a result it loses the nostalgic value that I myself tried desperately to cling on to as an excuse to enjoy them but in the end it was all for nought. It also doesn’t help that these movies feel like beat-for-beat remakes of movies we already love. You can’t catch lightning in a bottle, yet Disney keep persisting in their attempts to make this happen.
I just can’t escape the feeling that these films are merely money grabbing exercises – designed to mine our nostalgia while milking a quick buck for Disney in the process. I do give credit to all of those involved in the films construction as I know how difficult it is to make a film, I doubt I will even bother keeping up to date with Disney’s progression. I might be being a bit of a nostalgia critic but in this case it is necessary when comparing the two categories.
Is it really that hard for Disney to create new, captivating experiences? Do they really need to revisit old ideas and force nostalgia? The upcoming Mulan won’t even feature any of the songs from the original – which begs the question why bother at all? Inevitably this trend will go away, and Disney will move on to whatever comes next. But I can’t help but feel that Disney is causing more harm than good to the properties we cherish.
What do you think?