As 90s/early 2000s kids, we hate to see change. We hate to see our fond childhood memories tarnished, especially by revisions, remakes, and even fanfiction (at least I do). Imagine the plight of Disney fans all across the globe currently learning about the slew of upcoming Disney live-action remakes of their favorite childhood properties. Needless to say, most of them are not delighted with the news.
It all started five years ago, when Disney released a bold new version of Alice in Wonderland. Directed by Tim Burton and starring an impressive cast (including Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter) the film went on to gross over $1 billion worldwide, riding high on the relatively new 3D format and loaded with abundant CGI effects. In the following years, we got a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Oz The Great and Powerful, and, while not a remake of an animated film, it was a success. Disney applied the same format to 2014’s Maleficent, a prequel to the animated classic Sleeping Beauty. While Maleficent was an even bigger success than Oz (earning over $750 million worldwide) the reviews were less than spectacular and Disney fans criticized the blatant story changes from the original animated film. The most recent film in this so-called “series” is Cinderella (2015), which, thankfully, turned out to be true to its source material. In fact, critical reception-wise, Cinderella is well-received by fans and critics alike and has performed spectacularly at the box office (earning $340 million worldwide and counting).
Disney has no less than nine upcoming remakes in the pipeline. That’s right. Nine. There is a new adaptation of The Jungle Book, a musical version of Beauty and the Beast (which includes Harry Potter star Emma Watson as Belle!), a remake of Pete’s Dragon, a Maleficent-esque version of 101 Dalmatians called Cruella, Dumbo (yes, Dumbo, directed by, um, Tim Burton), a sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland titled Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, Mulan, and, because everyone was clamoring for it, Winnie the Pooh. Oh and, in case you forgot, throw in a live-action Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers feature.
It’s a little troubling to see Disney remaking these old classics for a new audience. Back in the early 2000s, there were live-action remakes of properties such as Garfield, Scooby Doo, and Yogi Bear. And no, they didn’t work. They were forgotten soon after they were released. Of late, everything from The Smurfs to Alvin and the Chipmunks to Marmaduke to Spongebob have received live-action remakes. Disney’s strategy, however, is more ambitious. These new remakes have massive budgets, are heavy on the special effects, and liberal with their story modifications. They provide a fun and memorable viewing experience in the theatre and their exorbitant ticket prices are almost justified. Almost.
THE CASE AGAINST REMAKES:
Well, like I mentioned, we 90s kids hate change. We’d rather go build a time machine to take us to our childhood and stay there forever. However, although I’d love this as much as the next person, we’re kind of stuck in the present. And we have to deal with the onslaught of Disney remakes, like it or not. However, we do care about these films. We want them to be great so they don’t destroy our rosy memories of the originals. We want movies that are more like Cinderella and less like Maleficent. In fact, we’d like to see new movies, like Enchanted, Frozen, or Big Hero 6. Nothing can ever match up to the magic of the original Disney animated movies. For example, although I loved the transformation scene in this year’s Cinderella, I think nothing can ever come close to the hand-drawn wonder of the 1950 film. I’m already prepared to scoff at the ballroom scene in the new Beauty and the Beast. Just please give us new stuff, Disney!
THE CASE FOR REMAKES:
Nostalgia is a pretty powerful thing and it does bring out our most passionate selves. However, before we grab our pitchforks and storm the movie theatre (please, never do that) or spam our Twitter followers with #ChildhoodRuined tweets, why not give these movies a chance? Sure, sometimes we may be frustrated by the revisions in Maleficent or the overload of special effects in Alice, but, if we consider these movies as “supplements” to the original films, they’re fine. So, let’s enjoy these films for what we’re supposed to enjoy them for: their entertainment value. Nothing is replacing anything. And, of course, don’t watch these films if you don’t want to. In all honesty, I thought the story for this year’s Cinderella was fleshed out in a much better and more satisfying way than it was in the 1950’s Cinderella. And Maleficent’s wings? Cool.
So, let them remake Mulan. Let them remake Beauty and the Beast. Heck, let them remake The Aristocats for all I care. I just hope that everyone involved in these upcoming productions knows these are stories that, first and foremost, must be treated with due respect and must be adapted carefully. As fans, we have a love-hate relationship with remakes and sequels, but we definitely hate it when stories are destroyed.
Love them or hate them, Disney’s live-action remakes are here to stay. With nine more films in the pipeline, it will definitely be interesting to see how these remakes hold up. Will they replace the original classics and become the new standard? Or will they be forgotten the moment audience members leave the movie theatre?
What are your thoughts? Do you think Disney should slow down with the live-action remakes or keep them coming? Sound off in the comments!
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes