Disney Movies That Should Not Be Live-Action Remakes - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Disney Movies That Should Not Be Live-Action Remakes

Disney’s onslaught of live-action remakes sure has been gaining momentum in recent years. 2019 alone saw the release of five adaptations/spin-offs of their animated classics with each their own legion of fans and critics. At best, they are modernized reinventions of familiar stories and characters, like The Jungle Book and Cruella. At worst, they are derivative regurgitations void of even half the heart of the originals, like The Lion King and Mulan. Regardless of overall quality or creative direction, each of these films takes on the Herculean challenge of giving their classic tales the same appeal and likability in live-action as they had in animation. This simply cannot be done. Animation is an entirely different method of filmmaking than live-action and everything that makes the animation distinctly expressive is lost in the translation to real sets and actors. Animation strives for believability, while live-action aims for realism. These remakes may look more real, but don’t feel as genuine as the classics that generations have grown up with.

With more and more remakes being announced and released every year, here is a list of animated films that Disney should not remake in live-action and must remain the animated classics they are:

RELATED: Every Pixar Movie Ranked from Worst to Best

Oliver & Company

Disney Animation’s Oliver & Company retells Charles Dickens's immortal classic Oliver Twist with its own unique spin. Oliver (Joey Lawrence) is now an orphaned kitten trying to survive the mean streets of New York City when he is taken in by a family of canine con artists. The film follows the tradition of Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians in exploring the secret life of pets (no relation) in a contemporary human setting.

On top of Disney’s previous failures of rendering realistic animal characters with blank vacuous faces, what makes Oliver and Company unfit for a new remake is the same thing that makes it a classic. It is very contemporary... for 1988. The nostalgic appeal of Oliver & Company is not so much for its own story and characters, but of the era that it captures in its music and attitude. The film is unmistakably a product of its time, with cultural references and music by Billy Joel, Bette Midler, and Huey Lewis planting the film’s very identity in the 1980s. Much like A Goofy Movie, Oliver and Company’s retro charm is a celebration of its time and cannot be replicated today.

A remake today would also likely turn the original’s honest portrayal of life on the streets into another big city, low-budget screwball pet comedy like Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Nine Lives, or Show Dogs that splits the focus between the starring animals and the supporting human cast. Even Disney’s own remakes of the very animal-focused Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians put greater focus on their human cast than their originals did. If the same were to happen in an Oliver & Company remake, then “why should I care”?

Pocahontas

As a film, Disney’s original Pocahontas is also very much a product of its time. It represents a period when Disney hoped to pull another Best Picture nomination like Beauty and the Beast, a time where Mel Gibson was still a bankable top-billing movie star, and a time where representation politics were far from what they are today.

Remaking Pocahontas as it is into live-action is more so unwise than anything else. For as artfully told and fondly remembered as the original is, it is an egregious oversimplification of historical events and racial conflicts that were, in hindsight, well outside Disney’s comfort zone at the time. That’s not to say that Disney, animated or otherwise, shouldn’t pursue bolder subject matter or stories with greater nuance than they have in the past, but the way it is done in Pocahontas, with a talking tree spirit, comedic sidekicks, and an over-the-top villain, would not prove tasteful or successful today. With the greatest of care and Native American filmmakers behind the camera, a remake could indeed serve as a chance to better the mistakes of the original, but in doing so, it would become so far removed from what people remember Pocahontas to be, it would be unrecognizable as a remake entirely.

Despite the studio’s most recent intentions to be inclusive in how they handle culture representation, the political culture surrounding Disney movies past and present is shaky enough already to further propagate the general misrepresentation found in Pocahontas.

Tarzan

Despite the universal appeal of seeing a muscular ape-man wearing only a loincloth fight beasts and swing across the screen, recent films based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ legendary jungle hero Tarzan have received minimal returns and lackluster reception. Warner Brothers’ The Legend of Tarzan failed to break even against a massive budget and the German-produced Tarzan (2013) lacked significant global distribution and had less than stellar motion-capture effects. The market for a new vision of Tarzan is simply not there, despite the popularity of the 1999 Disney version.

A remake of Disney’s incarnation of Tarzan could bring in as large an audience as the previous jungle flicks The Lion King and The Jungle Book, but doing so would pose a greater challenge than making yet another hyper-realistic animal kingdom. The greatest asset of Disney’s original Tarzan is the animation of Tarzan (Tony Goldwyn) himself, supervised by legendary animator Glen Keane. Burroughs envisioned the lord of the apes as a superhuman fusion of natural human strength and animal instinct. Tarzan was written as someone who adapted to survive the harshness of the jungle and behave like the rest of his animal friends. The animalistic body language and sheer athleticism that Tarzan portrays in the Disney film can only have been captured by Keane and his team of animators. No live human actor could attribute the amount of detailed bestial behavior of various animals the way Tarzan does in animation.

The Emperor’s New Groove

If there is any Disney movie that could only exist in animation, it is The Emperor’s New Groove. As a comedy, it relies heavily on the benefits of its animated medium to achieve a sense of speed and variety in its humor. Characters like Kronk (Patrick Warburton) and Yzma (Eartha Kitt) are designed with an overtly angular shape language to be able to hit a wide array of extreme poses and readable expressions in quick succession. The fast-paced chase sequences and cutaways also emphasize the film’s variety of absurdist jokes with a level of precise execution that can only be done in a hit-and-run cartoony style. It is the closest Disney animation as come to matching the manic spirit of Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry.

At most, the style of humor a live-action Emperor’s New Groove could pull of would be on par with Disney’s 1997 adaptation of George of the Jungle or Looney Tunes: Back in Action, which still wouldn’t live up to the original’s kinetic energy. Grounded vaudevillian slapstick and snappy dialogue would only bring the characters to a fraction of their life in animation. The heart of what made the original so funny would be lost in trying to replicate its dynamic animated elasticity into the limited possibilities of traditional live comedy. As Kuzco said, remaking The Emperor’s New Groove is a “no-touchy”.

Any Pixar Movie

Since its founding, Pixar Animation Studios has approached each and every one of its films with an ambition to make them more visually astounding than the ones that came before it. The house that Toy Story built veritably invented a new form of filmmaking that achieves new levels of detail, performance, and believability in animation than ever even imagined before in the hand-drawn realm. The naturalistic environments of A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo, the immaculate texturing of Brave and Coco, the photo-realism of Toy Story 4 and Soul. Each Pixar film is a landmark for new heights in animation artistry and technology.

With each of Pixar’s films already looking and feeling life-like as they are, their translation into live-action wouldn't be as stark or even necessary compared to adding a third dimension to the traditional 2D. Pixar’s catalog of original films enjoys a longer shelf life than the classic Disney features, which keeps their contemporarily digital stories from feeling as antiquated as the idealistic pencil-animated fairy tale. Remaking CGI films that strive for stylistic believability into realistic live-action would not only be unnecessary but also, like the rest of the Disney remakes, redundant.

RELATED: Every Disney Animated Movie Ever Made Ranked from Worst to Best



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