Why Are We So Critical Of Disney's Live Action Remakes?


Do we need to just accept the Disney live action remakes for what they are? I mean when we criticize them for not being fresh what are we really expecting? They are exactly what they set out to be, a remake of the original animation in a photo realistic way. This thought comes straight off the heels of Disney’s live action remake, Aladdin, being released into theaters. The movie has earned a a 58% approval rating from critics while holding a 94% approval rating from fans. With such a big gap, its clear that the critics were a little too…wait for it… critical.

The live action remake of Aladdin is a classic judging a book by its cover scenario. The minute fans saw the giant blue CGI animation of Will Smith’s face, everyone from here to Agrabah criticized the look and freaked out about the poor outlook of the movie. I was a part of this group as well, feeling that the genie should have stayed in the lamp. But following that first teaser trailer, production still had months to fine tune the movie and make sure from an effect’s standpoint, that everything looked fine. Ultimately, it did. The movie has its flaws, a first act that feels rushed and doesn’t look great, but overall it succeeds in retelling the animated classic in a live action setting with certain plot points updated to have more of a cultural impact today.


The real problem rather lies in the expectations of these live action films. Now that Aladdin is out, the Lion King is next and just a few months away. This is another production that has already received its fair share of hate due to the film being dubbed a live action remake. Given the fact that not a single human will appear in the film, non-Disney stock holders will argue that it is not live action. This is technically true, but the photo realistic nature of the film is what makes it live action. It is designed to look real, and that should be something that viewers are in awe of rather than criticizing. If Favreau succeeds, and his test was the Jungle Book, in making believable looking lions and other animals, then he should get all the credit in the world. At the end of the day, this movie specifically is testing the limits of what modern digital effects are capable of doing, which should be applauded not criticized.

There seems to be a disconnect between what Disney is trying to do, and the way it is perceived by critical moviegoers and film buffs. Where the casual movie goer will embrace what is given to them and enjoy the film for what it is, the critical eyes have decided to downplay these movies because they aren’t the original, they aren’t “really” live action, or it isn’t the same cast. But the point of these movies isn’t to be the original. It is to take the original and expand upon them both in terms of character and visualization. This is what Aladdin did well. It added key ingredients into the story that make sense, be it with Jasmine’s motives or the Genie, and also gave us an updated version of the Disney classic that the OGs who grew up on the animated version can share with their kids. Ultimately these movies are a bucket list item for Disney. They are going back now to make movies they could not make live action during the era that they originally released it. Unfortunately, in the 90s CGI was not what it is now. A computer-generated genie would not have been possible, and it would have discredited the movie. Is it a cash grab? You bet it is. Retelling the classics is always going to make gobs of money, but it is also giving them the opportunity to go back and do things that were not possible in the 80s and 90s.


However, this has to be done with extreme caution. George Lucas wanted to do the same thing with his beloved Star Wars franchise. He went back and added things into the original trilogy which now seem off or out of place. This is something that could happen here with Disney going forward, mainly from a quantity standpoint. Fans obviously love to see the classic animated movies retold in a live action setting, but they shouldn’t take it too far. A quick look at the Disney live action movies set to be made tells me that they may be overdoing it. Coming up we have The Lion King, Maleficent 2, Cruella, The Sword in the Stone, Mulan, Peter Pan, Snow White, Pinocchio, and many more announced films that I have not named. This may be pushing it. I can get behind The Lion King, Mulan, and even Pinocchio, but do we really need another telling of Peter Pan? Did we really need a Maleficent 2? To me it just seems that there are so many classics that Disney could do and that they should focus on, that we don’t need some of the lesser known movies or rehashes of movies that have been done ten times over.

Maybe I am wrong though. That is the beauty of this. Everything is an opinion. What do you think? Are there any live action remakes coming from Disney that you are excited to see? Did you like Aladdin? Let me know in the comments below, on Twitter, or on Facebook. As always, thank you for reading.