Versatility is one of the greatest things about animation. Using nothing more than some ink, paint, paper, and cels (or a computer and some software as the case may be), animators can take us to far-off places and show us things that we’d never see anywhere else, not even in live-action movies.
Naturally, since animation can do so many things that live-action can’t, there are going to be certain live-action movies that would be equally great (or even better) animated. Here, we’ll discuss four such films!
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
In 1977, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and writer Lawrence Kasdan sat down and began to craft the ultimate adventure flick. As they worked, they borrowed from movie serials, Humphrey Bogart movies, pulp magazines, and Uncle Scrooge comics, taking their favorite elements and combining them into the kind of film they loved as kids. In 1981, the finished product, Raiders of the Lost Ark, graced theaters. It raked in a ton of money and earned the love of critics. It also introduced us to Indiana Jones, one of the greatest action heroes in the history of the movies.
The elements that make Raiders a great adventure film also make it a perfect candidate for animation! The exotic locations, the exciting set-pieces, the goofy humor, and the larger-than-life characters (especially Indiana Jones himself) are all well-suited to animation. If there’s any character that cries for the animated treatment, it’s Indiana Jones!
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Upon being released from prison, musician Jake Blues (John Belushi) learns that the orphanage where he and his brother Elwood (Dan Ackroyd) were raised is about to be shut down due to lack of funds. Desperate to save their childhood home, Jake and Elwood put together their old band and set out to perform a charity concert for the orphanage. Along the way, they get involved in two awesome car chases, get chased by zillion cops and a bazooka-wielding Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and sing a lot of great blues and soul songs with the likes of James Brown, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin! And that, my friends, is The Blues Brothers in a nutshell.
There’s nothing more crowd-pleasing than an animated musical, and The Blues Brothers is already very appealing in its original form. Why not combine Jake and Elwood Blues with animation and get the biggest movie of all time? It’s good business sense! On top of that, it would be really fun to see people like James Brown and Aretha Franklin get animated and belt out their tunes! That’s not even mentioning the car chases, which could be BIGGER and LOUDER in animated form! If you love animated musicals (trust me), then you’ll want an animated Blues Brothers film!
In 1985, Lawrence Kasdan was as hot as a Hollywood figure could get. Not only had he directed two critically-lauded films (Body Heat and The Big Chill), he also shared a screenwriting credit on two huge blockbusters: Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. With all that success behind him, studio executives gave Kasdan carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. Kasdan used this freedom well, teaming with his brother Mark to bring a passion project to the screen. With Silverado, the Kasdan brothers paid homage to every western they’d loved as kids. Working together, the brothers penned the story of a band of cowboys who defend the citizens of Silverado from the town’s corrupt marshal.
There are animated westerns, of course, but they always feature some ironic twist. From yodeling cows (Home on the Range) to cowboy critters (Rango), each animated western has turned the western genre on its head. Those films aren’t necessarily bad, but it would be interesting to see an animated western that didn’t try to transform the genre but just told a good, classic cowboy story. Silverado does that and offers up some good laughs and a bunch of appealing characters while it’s at it. It’s a perfect candidate for an animated remake!
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
The Twilight Zone is a show that needs no introduction. In the forty-plus years since its last episode aired, Rod Serling’s sci-fi anthology show has only gotten more popular, due primarily to the strong ideas and themes, the engrossing stories, and those oh-so-classic twist endings. The Twilight Zone has always had a lot of fans, and some of those fans have carried a lot of clout in Hollywood. Take Steven Spielberg, for instance! In 1983, Spielberg gathered three of his director buddies, John Landis, Joe Dante, and George Miller, and, together, they took stories from the original series and adapted them for the big screen. The resulting film is pretty hit-and-miss (and, sadly, actor Vic Morrow and two children died on set), but it’s still worth watching!
Horror hasn’t gained a foothold in animation yet, but it should. The genre relies heavily on awesome visuals and a distinct visual style, and animation offers both those things in spades. An animated Twilight Zone: The Movie remake would be a perfect way to scare the pants off a few audiences! It would draw nostalgic, animation-addicted adults in as well as animation-loving kids. An animated Twilight Zone film has the potential to both introduce a new generation to a classic show and the horror genre to the world of animation! I don’t know about you, but I’d say those are both worthy goals!
Ultimately, however, these proposed remakes are about one thing: pushing animation forward. We’re all aware that animation isn’t only for kids, but, unfortunately, the world at large doesn’t agree with us. There’s no easy fix to this problem. One thing that might help, however, is to tell stories that have never been told in animation before. While those movies definitely don’t have to be remakes, live-action movies provide a convenient framework to talk about the cool things that animation potentially could do, given the opportunity. Such remakes as the ones above could open the door into a new, exciting world for animation!
What do you think? What live-action films would you like to see remade as animated movies?
Edited by: Kelly Conley