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Are Live-Action Remakes Of Animated Disney Classics Good or Bad?

Noah Camarena |
April 9, 2015 | 3:21 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Maleficent (Twitter, @SOUKOR)
Maleficent (Twitter, @SOUKOR)
Sequels, reboots, adaptations. It seems as if Hollywood these days cannot come up with any original material and has to draw on the past in order to make a hit. This is even true for a major company like Disney. Disney recently announced that the company would be developing a live-action version of the animated classic “Mulan.” 

This project does not come as a surprise as Disney has recently become known for remaking animated films into live-action adaptations.

The trend started back in 2010 with the release of “Alice in Wonderland,” and was more recently followed up with adaptations of “Maleficent” and “Cinderella.” 

These films have been successful at the box office and have received general praise from critics, leaving Disney with no choice but to continue to produce these films. Disney has other films of this type lined up for future release such as “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and another “Alice in Wonderland” film. There are also rumors that Tim Burton will be directing a live action version of “Dumbo.”

Now these films have both positive and negative aspects to being made. The release of the new versions allow a new generation to experience these classic stories, albeit in a different way. In some cases like “Maleficent” the film even offers a brand new story that gives a completely different take on a classic tale. 

The family friendly subject matter of Disney films ensures that the movie will draw in a large audience and thus be successful financially. At the same time, the fact that the movies are live action rather than animated makes it seem a bit more mature for whatever reason. This means that high schoolers won’t feel uncool if they go to the movies because they are not watching a cartoon.

The nostalgia aspect of a film that tells a popular story from someone’s childhood will also draw a large audience that wants to relive one of their favorite stories. 

The big name of Disney also is a draw in itself, not only for an audience, but for the actors who participate in the making of the film. Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway have all served as actors in some of the live action films and will soon be joined by the likes of Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Emma Watson. This helps draw attention to the film itself and gives the actors a blockbuster on their resume.

READ MORE: Dream Casting The Live-Action Disney Princesses

These are all positive things for Disney and the case for making these films, however there are a few things that aren’t ideal.

For the majority of these films, such as “Cinderella,” the theme has been played out and the story is extremely predictable when it follows the same plot line as all other versions before it. This leaves everyone who already knows the story begging for more or hoping for a change. 

The trend also makes Disney seem lazy in the sense that they are just reusing older stories and revamping them for today’s world, rather than leaving the classics untouched and focusing on coming up with new ideas. This also leaves the door open for a story’s image to be tarnished. If the live action version of a film is not as good as the original, that could leave an audience focusing on the negative instead of marveling in the success of the classic version.

Because Disney has such a history of successful films, they have nothing to worry about in terms of making money off of their projects, but it would be refreshing for the company to focus on making more original projects instead of remaking classic animated films.

Reach Staff Reporter Noah Camarena here and follow him on Twitter here.



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