Top 10 Disney Classic Live-Action Remakes
Disney has been producing animated classic films for 84 years and is cashing in on nostalgia by remaking many of them as live-action films. These are 10 of the best.
Walt Disney Pictures revolutionised the entertainment industry in America when they started releasing full-length feature films that were entirely animated. The company took what was assumed to be media for kids and turned it into a global phenomenon enjoyed by millions of people over eight and a half decades.
In total, 59 animated films have been released by the studio, starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 and concluding with Raya and the Last Dragon released in March this year. In addition, the studio has also been creating live-action remakes of its most popular animated classics; attempts have been better than others.
1. The Jungle Book (1994)
Many people believe live-action remakes of classic Disney films are a new idea. While it had picked up pace over the last decade or so, the first one came about in 1994 when the studio made a live-action version of The Jungle Book.
Directed by Stephen Sommers of The Mummy fame, the film tried to be unique while remaining faithful to the source material, but many differences were very noticeable. For instance, the animals don’t talk, and Mowgli is an adult rather than a child to have a love story in the film.
2. Dumbo (2019)
Legendary director Tim Burton was brought in to lead the 2019 live-action dumbo project after the success he had with the Alice in Wonderland remake (more on this below). Burton is most well known for his work on films with darker themes like Edward Scissorhands and 1989 Batman.
Unfortunately, it did not work out as well as the first time around. While the Dumbo live-action remake is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, it falls well short of the quality of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. It also struggles with pacing and content as the original it was based on was only just over an hour-long while the remake pushes the two-hour mark.
3. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
While Dumbo may not have been the perfect fit for Burton, the 2010 live-action remake of Alice in Wonderland definitely was. Even though the film is marketed as a modern remake, it plays as more of a sequel to the original movie as it features a grown-up Alice returning to Wonderland rather than as a wide-eyed and naive young girl.
As you would expect from a Burton film, the reimagined setting and characters that Alice meets are much darker in colour palette and feeling than the original animated film, but it all works beautifully together. It went on to gross more than $1-billion at the box office.
4. 101 Dalmatians (1996)
101 Dalmatians is about as faithful as a live-action remake can be to the source material, with virtually the entire movie reproduced line for line. Thankfully, it translated very well from the animated form, but Glen Close’s performance as the iconic Cruella de Vil made this film stand out.
It was arguably the best performance of her career, and she had a blast playing the character, which translates so well on-screen and helps make this film one of the best ever Disney live-action remakes.
5. Aladdin (2019)
So it made sense that a live-action remake was announced for 2017, but there was some trepidation about the film after an early trailer showed a clip of a blue CGI Will Smith as the iconic Genie. Thankfully, the studio listened to concerns, and, in the end, director Guy Ritchie did a great job of bringing this globally famous story to life.
Aladdin is one of the most popular Disney animated films of all time. It has influenced almost all media types, from the Broadway musical of the same name to video games such as Aladdin Prince Adventures. There is even an Aladdin Pinball machine and a slot game titled Aladdin that can be found at brands famous for online gambling in Canada, such as Playamo casino.
6. Beauty And The Beast (2017)
There was no doubt Beauty And The Beast would eventually get a live-action remake after the animated film was nominated for the Academy Award for best picture. This was followed by the hugely popular Broadway show and left the remake with big shoes to fill.
Any concerns fans may have had were soon allayed when Emma Watson was announced to play the role of Belle with Ewan McGregor as Lumiere. Another live-action remake did not play well with critics but was a big hit with fans and audiences and brought in over $1.2-billion at the box office.
7. The Lion King (2019)
After the success of the second live-action The Jungle Book film (see below), director Jon Favreau took on the enormous task of tackling the much-loved The Lion King live-action remake. While the film is billed as “live-action”, it is as animated as the original, albeit via motion capture technology that makes the animals look very lifelike.
In the end, the movie had an almost documentary-like quality to it, which was a bit at odds with the talking animals and Disney music on display. However, the film was still a massive hit with audiences worldwide, despite not being popular among film critics.
8. Cinderella (2015)
Cinderella is one of Disney’s most iconic animated films, and you will struggle to find someone who hasn’t heard of the evil stepsisters, prince charming and the search for the lost glass slipper. So it came as little surprise that the live-action remake stayed very faithful to the source material.
Helena Bonham Carter does a fantastic job as the fairy Godmother, as Cate Blanchett plays the cruel stepmother. The only significant difference between the two films is that there is no real musical element to the live-action film, which instead chooses to play the original’s most famous songs during the end credits.
9. The Jungle Book (2016)
The Jungle Book has had two live-action remakes, and both were good enough to make this list, but the most recent version, released in 2016 and directed by Jon Favreau, really stands out. It is especially noteworthy because it was not expected to do that well before release before bringing in just shy of $1-billion at the box office and becoming the smash hit of 2016.
It was the first live-action remake to make use of motion capture technology to produce seemingly lifelike animal characters that are fully animated. While the film is excellent on its own, the performances of Bill Murray and Christopher Walken as CGI animals really pushed it over the top.
10. Maleficent (2014)
Maleficent is a live-action remake of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty that gets the top spot on this list purely for its uniqueness. Instead of doing the remake traditionally and following the story everyone is familiar with, they did a complete 180-degree turn. Instead, they told the story from the villain’s perspective, Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie.
Disney’s bold play is effectively a sequel to Sleeping Beauty as it tells the tale of how Maleficent wasn’t always evil and the tragic story behind what turned her that way. The costumes, set design and production are all outstanding, and the film turned out to be one of the best live-action remakes Disney have ever done.