3 Things Disney Need To Do In Order To Make The Live Action Remakes Work

Disney are riding high on the back of mega successful films that have easily sailed past the $1 billion worldwide mark at the worldwide box office; this is including the acquisition of LucasFilms Ltd. in 2012 leading to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) which crossed over $2 billion worldwide at the worldwide box office. In addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe where each film keeps raking in the money; Disney have now hit the jackpot by giving beloved animated classics the live action treatment.

Most recently Beauty and the Beast (2017) reached the $1 billion worldwide milestone, meaning it is now the highest grossing musical of all time. Alice in Wonderland (2010) was the first Disney live action remake to reach that milestone and since then each remake has made a lot of money. So why write an article stating that Disney need to consider these 3 points to make the remakes work? Because it’s starting to feel like we’re giving critics of remakes a reason to hate them since Disney are playing it safe and not taking any risks.

1. Take Risks

maleficent-angelina-jolie

Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Maleficient (2014) received mixed reviews but made a lot of money for Disney. It could be argued that the success of these two remakes is down to the fact that Disney changed up the well known story lines and brought something fresh and unique to the table.

Alice in Wonderland cerated Alice into a warrior and injected a bit more action and adventure into the mix, meaning that it wasn’t trying to stomp over the 1951 animated classic but be set apart. Maleficent switched up the tale of Sleeping Beauty (1959) and allowed audiences to see a more complex and three dimensional character in Maleficent, it helped having Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie bring depth to the eponymous character.

The danger Disney are in at the minute is with recent box office smash hit Beauty and the Beast they can see that playing it safe works for them. There have been rumours regarding Mulan where they might not use the songs from the 1998 animation and people thought this was a bad idea; my response to them is, “why don’t you want Disney to bring a fresh perspective to a beloved animation?” If you make the remakes too similar too the animations people will instantly compare the two when the remakes should represent the fact that they honour the animations whilst bringing their own spin on a well known tale.

(Since the rumours of Mulan featuring no songs emerged it has since been claimed that there will in fact be music….let’s hope it’s not a shot for shot take of the original like how they remade Beauty and the Beast)

2. Cast Directors With Diverse Styles

THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE

Many would argue that Alice in Wonderland isn’t Tim Burton’s strongest work, yet no one deny the auteurship of Oscar nominee Tim Burton. His visual style is what sets him apart and adding in a dash of the gothic nature doesn’t hurt in making a well known tale your own.

Even Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh directing Cinderella (2015) was a brilliant move, a director of his gravitas managing to stay true to what we loved about the original whilst making tweaks and managing to stand alongside the animated classic. Unlike Beauty and the Beast where it was a shot for shot remake (apart from those boring original songs everyone has probably forgotten about).

It’s exciting news to hear Niki Caro (Whale Rider – 2002) has been announced to direct the live action adaptation of Mulan (which will be released in November 2018). Bring a female director on board to this tale of an empowering heroine is a great move on Disney, however I’m hoping that she will take risks and make it an exciting action adventure ride that it could potentially be.

Bill Condon comes from a musical background so fair enough he played to his strengths with the Beauty and the Beast live action remake, however I hope that Disney allow each director to play to their strengths so all the remakes don’t feel similar or uninspired.

3. Know Which Animations To Give The Live Action Treatment

maxresdefault-16

I am not against remakes/sequels/reboots at all, but only if there is a need or a way to bring it back in a new and exciting way. With Alice in Wonderland, Maleficient and even Cinderella they all came back more fleshed out and gave reason for audiences to watch them again in a new format.

However this could be dangerous in making Disney throw away aims to create original work and revisit the films that made them who they are today. Just think about it; there are over 50 animations that Disney have made and worryingly there is a growing list of animations being given the live action treatment. Do we really need a Lion King remake? With the 1994 classic still engrained in our minds today with the help of the still popular Broadway/West End show? Dumbo is a classic which is 76 years old and it’s still arguably popular today, can’t we leave it in the past and is there really a demand to see it brought back to the big screen?

Of course all of these points are subjective and everyone will have their own opinion of which animations is deemed worthy of being made into a live action film, however the principal still stands that Disney should be more selective in their animations to remake. This would make the current remakes more impactful and special, now the notion of remaking a beloved Disney animation has lost its shine.

beauty-and-beast-2017-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

In conclusion, I’m all for a Disney animated live action remake only if there is a need to do so and only if there is a way to make it unique and different to make it worth my while to watch it again. They can’t keep doing what they did with Beauty and the Beast, because in all honesty I wouldn’t bother with the live action again and I’d go straight to the 1991 animated classic. Let’s hope that Disney don’t lose that curious spirit to try new things when giving their own animations the live action treatment:

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

I See The Light Of TANGLED (2010)

I See The Light has to be one of the most stunning Disney songs and is the part of the most breathtaking scene in the film. The song was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 (I love Toy Story 3 – 2010 but in my opinion I See The Light is superior to We Belong Together) and is the jewel of the film. Thankfully there are plenty of heartwarming, light, dramatic moments in the film and instead of doing a formal film review, I would like to single out three scenes that represent what a quality film Tangled is.

When Will My Life Begin?

maxresdefault-9

The opening song in this scene is a great way to kickstart what I would consider to be the best soundtrack to a Disney animation. Rapunzel is introduced to us as her teenage self, and she basically gives us a run down of her day to day activities in the most fun way possible. Whilst on the surface it seems like a nice montage, there’s a lot you can actually unpack.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; yes, many may question Rapunel’s spirited nature despite her oppressive circumstance. However, this is a Disney film and some could argue if that’s the only life she’s only ever known then I guess she is the walking example of ignorance is bliss (to be fair she has a nice set up).

As soon as you hear the first strums of the guitar strings, you’re instantly put in a good mood. I love the pop vibe that the soundtrack has, filled with hit worthy songs. I love the humour in this scene and that is credit to Pascal (my favourite sidekick, levelled with Maximus) as he doesn’t need to speak because his face says it all. There are moments in the song where Rapunzel uses him to be a puppet for ventriloquy purposes; from him holding a candle triple the size of him to my favourite part…him being in a dress. This shows the unique friendship between the two because Pascal is willing to do anything for Rapunzel. The montage is so quick that it’s only when you actually stop to think about those small moments that it makes you smile and laugh.

As mentioned previously, this scene does give the whole being “locked up in a tower” thing quite the glossy makeover. However Disney acknowledges the truth of her situation by representing her as someone who knows there is more in life. Despite the fact that Rapunzel has made the best out of her indoor situation she still longs for the outside world and her only dream is to see the lights that appear on her birthday. There’s something missing from her life and though she doesn’t know the details as to why, she has a basic understanding that there is something better for her out in the world.

I’ve Got A Dream

ive_got_a_dream

This is such a hilarious scene; Rapunzel and her innocence captivates the group of thugs and eventually she unearths the soft core in all of them. My favourite moment of this scene is when Rapunzel silences the whole pub by summarising her dream of seeing the lanterns and appealing to them by exclaiming, “Find your humanity!” She shows courage and is not afraid to let anyone stop her from fulfilling her dreams.

What seemed to be a rough establishment actually transforms into an almost therapy-like session. Through song and dance, and through sharing everyone’s dreams, the scene counteracts the brutal outward appearances. I love the juxtapositions in this scene. We see a big rough guy singing about his love of being a pianist, others singing about their love of ceramic unicorns and baking. It’s a total subversion of the stereotypes of masculinity but overall the scene is a lot of fun.

In turn, I love how Rapunzel isn’t fazed by her surroundings and saw something in the thugs that others didn’t see. There’s a funny moment where Flynn’s confused facial expression on his face perfectly conveys his confusion as to why this rough crowd is singing about their hobbies all of a sudden. He’s basically mirroring the audience, and that’s what makes this scene genius, it turns expectations of their heads and shows how we can’t judge things from their outward appearance.

I See The Light

915576_1325456678282_full

This scene showcases the captivating power that animation has and in my opinion displays Disney as the forefront of animation. Watch it and you’ll understand why I’ve selected this scene to showcase why I believe Tangled is truly one of best Disney films.

There is such an innocence and heartwarming feeling. The fact that Flynn and Rapunzel are naturally falling in love with each other after spending quality time together beforehand makes it feels organic and natural. This scene, in a way, is also the emotional climax of the film in a way. Rapunzel asks Flyn what will happen if this dream she’s had her entire life doesn’t live up to her expectations, to which Flynn reassures her it will be. It is the most sincere moment of this scene:

“…and what if it is? What do I do then?”

Flynn: “Well that’s the good part I guess, you get to go and find a new dream.”

Cue the most mesmerising scene is animation with the glowing lanterns creating a warm and atmospheric feeling, not to mention the beautiful song that is being sung by the two leads. The film has been leading up to this moment and it means a lot to see Rapunzel being lost in the moment and achieving her dream.

tangled

You may have guessed it but I would have to say Tangled is my favourite Disney film. I honestly could have written a lot more to further back up my claim but the best way to convince you is to watch the film itself. Of course films like The Lion King (1994), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Little Mermaid (1989) etc. are iconic and classics but Tangled incorporates classic Disney conventions whilst being modern and exciting (after all I did mention that it would be my Desert Island Movie in my previous post).

It would be criminal of me to leave out mentions of other brilliant moments from Tangled, so here they are in a nutshell:

Honorable Mentions

  • I am a despicable human being/BEST DAY EVERRR!
  • “Mother Knows Best” scene.
  • Rapunzel and Pascal interrogate Flynn.
  • Maximus and Flynn have to settle their differences for a day to make Rapunzel’s birthday one to remember.
  • “Rapunzel Know’s Best” scene.
  • THE WHOLE FILM!

My Movie Life

Recently I was reading the March 2017 issue of TOTAL FILM magazine and came across a feature which interested me. Director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko – 2001) did a feature entitled ‘My Movie Life’ in which he gave a list of movie titles he would watch in various circumstances. As I was reading the feature I thought it would be fun to do the same so here are a selection of movies that I’ve selected for these varied topics.

MY DESERT ISLAND MOVIE

Tangled (2010)

open-uri20150608-27674-1nhxtcc_3d6b00b0

Picking a movie for this section is hard because you have to think of a film that will have a lasting impact. Tangled is a movie which I can watch over and over again. It’s a vibrant, fun and colourful movie with a strong leading character and a welcomed modern twist on a fairytale classic. I will declare Tangled as my favourite Disney movie and will even go as far as to say Tangled has one of the best soundtracks for a Disney animation (even better than Frozen – 2013).

THE MOVIE THAT MAKES ME CRY

Never Let Me Go (2010)

cofanpop

In all honestly I haven’t physically cried at this movie (the last movie I actually cried at was the 2005 movie King Kong when I was 12, no joke) but Never Let Me Go is the most thought provoking and emotionally raw movie I have ever seen. It’s a very effortless and understated movie which is also very poignant and emotionally captivating. This is a movie with a powerful ending due to its subtlety and leaves you with a lot to ponder over. You won’t be sorry to have watched it.

THE LAST MOVE I WATCHED ON A PLANE

Date Night (2010)

date-night-film-review

Tina Fey plus Steve Carrell equals an enjoyable watch. Don’t judge me as it was 3am in the morning (I think) and it was on a long flight back home from Africa so I wanted to watch something fun and light hearted. I had watched movies like Midnight Special (2016), Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)...ahem…Daddy’s Home (2015)...but Date Night is the last movie I have watched on a plane.

THE MOVIE I WISHED I DIRECTED

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

lord-of-the-rings-return-of-the-king-extended-edition-1464360391

Not that I could ever reach the towering heights of Oscar winner Peter Jackson’s brilliance but of course directing my favourite movie ever would be amazing. Directing a movie with huge spectacle rooted in depth is something a lot of filmmakers could learn from (maybe Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson could teach the world that lesson).

MY FAVOURITE MOVIE THAT MESSED WITH MY HEAD

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl : Première image de Ben Affleck

There’s not enough words to do justice of the major plot twist that Gillian Flynn writes for both novel and movie version of Gone Girl. The moment which really grabbed me was halfway through the book/movie when Amy says…

*SPOILER*

“I’m so glad now that I’m dead.”

I literally gasped and was so shocked. I’m pretty clueless in general but even this plot twist caught me off guard. From that point onwards the plot escalates and Amy is fully let out of her cage.

Even though I knew what would happen in the movie it didn’t lose its impact as Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike perfect encapsulates the character of Amazing Amy. The movie is brilliantly crazy in a perfectly calculated way. You’ll finish the movie trying to process everything that has happen, it definitely leaves an impact.

THE MOVIE I LOVE THAT NOBODY TALKS ABOUT 

Sing Street (2016)

sing-street

Easily one of the best movies last year! I was surprised how much I enjoyed it when I watched it at the cinema but my love for the movie has only grown stronger. There’s such an authenticity in all respects that is endearing and engaging. It also helps that it has an incredible soundtrack with songs that won’t leave you.

It is an indie movie that premiered at Sundance 2016 and sadly not many people (hardly anyone) knows about this movie from the people I talk to. There’s something fun about feeling like you’ve found a hidden gem but at the same time it’s criminal that not more people know about Sing Street. It was nominated a Golden Globe after all.

 

It’s fun trying to fit different films in various categories, it’s worth a try to do what I just did for this blog post yourself.

Once Upon A Time

It’s safe to say I am a Disney enthusiast, they are timeless classics that appeal to all ages. But how do people feel about Walt Disney Studios revamping these classics into a live action film? Personally I think it’s a great idea to retell these stories for a modern day audience. However I can see from both sides of the coin.

4229381112_6435d26411_o

It could be argued that in 2010 the “Fairy-Tale Adaptation” began with Tim Burton’s billion dollar grossing film Alice in Wonderland. The film was a huge box office hit and the sequel is already being filmed for a release date of 2016, entitled Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass. Whilst the film was met with mixed reviews, it did receive praise for visual style and special effects. This resulted in Academy Award wins for Best Art Direction and Best Costume.

What made this adaptation unique was how it strayed from the traditional take of the Lewis Carol tale, as envisioned in the 1951 animation. Alice would become a warrior in Burton’s adaptation, and it would shake things up for a 21st Century audience. This is why I respect this version and I am excited to see what the followup will entail.

14369447261_e2892c61f1_o

Fast forward to 2014 and Disney releases their twist on their classic animation Sleeping Beauty, with the Angelina Jolie fronted Maleficent. Interestingly enough, people were worried the film would flop because of its darker take on the tale. This film was a risk for Disney, a risk that paid off in full. Maleficent grossed over $758 million at the worldwide box office, which marks Jolie’s biggest commercial hit of her career and became the fourth highest grossing film of 2014. Whilst it was far from perfect, Jolie totally owned her character and allowed the tale to be seen from a different point of view.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 09.17.20

Following the success of Maleficent, Cinderella was released in March 2015 and so far has earned more than $340 million at the worldwide box office (and still counting). Interestingly enough, the Kenneth Branagh version has been met with critical praise, for Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent received mixed reviews. Whilst the latter two films mentioned were box office hits, critics were keen to point out that Cinderella remained faithful to the original and yet managed to update it for a modern day audience.

emma_watson_in_beauty_and_the_beast_by_yala100-d8fiogh

Regardless of it’s critical reception, Disney have obviously tapped into a growing market and have already started planning adaptations of their animations. In March 2017 they will release Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. Disney have recently announced their plans to release a live action version of Mulan (release date TBC). Two versions of The Jungle Book are being released (Disney version being released in 2015 and Warner Brother version being released in 2016) and Winnie the Pooh has been given the green light for a live action make over.

On the other hand, I do see the other point of view where Disney could be accused of lacking originality. People have grown up with these animations, including myself, and have their own connection to them and fear these adaptations may taint them. The great thing about the live action adaptations is that it gives directors creative freedom to go deeper into what the animations explored, without disowning what came before.

Straying away from fairytales, a quote from Jurassic Park is appropriate for this post: “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Is this true for adapting animations into live action feature films? Whatever the answer is, it seems to be working. Personally, I welcome someone to share a new take on a well known tale.

snowwhite_and_the_huntsman_poster_by_karimelmahalawy-d7xv4gu

I loved how even with Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman, they created a new version for a well known story. I loved Jolie’s take on a classic villain and I’m interested to see what the sequel to Alice in Wonderland (having a 6 year gap in-between both films) has in store. I love Disney animations, but I’m just as excited to see these universally known classics adapted for a modern day audience.