Disney Live Action Remakes are Objectively Terrible



Image of Peter Pan from the newest Disney live action adaptation “Peter Pan and Wendy.”

Austin Fortier, Writer

The Little Mermaid, releasing in theatres May 26, has prompted me into looking back on old Disney films, and from this, I have realized how truly terrible some of these Disney animated reimaginings are. Live-action movie adaptations have only kept being produced due to how easy of a cash grab they are.

The live-action version of Mulan grossed $100 million, Cinderella grossed $524 million, Aladdin, Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, and Beauty and the Beast live-action adaptations all made one billion dollars individually. Disney is proving through these films that nostalgia sells, and it will keep selling no matter how terrible the product is.

Mulan for me is the worst of the Disney live-action animated remakes. For starters, the movie is already missing one of the most important characters in the plot: Mushu.

Mushu is an extremely iconic character that brings life to the animated version of Mulan, not just being a comedic relief and interesting character, but an important piece to the plot and an active participant in the final act of the movie. The character being removed from the film effectively destroyed the ending of the story so many found enjoyable, Mushu was stabbed in the back by Disney.

In addition, dragons in Chinese culture are to represent good fortune and protection, seen as guardians. Mushu’s entire character arc was created based on this mythology, the mythology of protection and fortune that so helped Mulan in her quest. Disney’s reasoning for removing the character was claimed to be to make the live-action film feel more realistic, but this crusade towards realism has cost an important piece of culture and story that was crucial to the original story.

Another issue revolving around Mulan is that it all just looks so bland. The new “war drama” theme for the movie made the colors, conversations, and action just feel so dull. Once again Mushu being in the movie can be serving that missing color, a vibrant dragon having chaotic, yet elegant movement and unique interactions with other characters could’ve made the movie look better. Disney, however, disagrees with that sentiment by having removed Mushu entirely. Instead, Disney opted for boring, drag dialogue between groups in the movie. There’s nothing wrong with real people talking in a scene, but when that same scene was created 21 years ago with expressively animated faces, the new version is going to fall flat.

Why even make it live-action in the first place if the movie was made for animation? If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

The worst part of it all is those two points don’t even come close to why it’s so terrible. You want to make the setting look bland? Fine. Remove Mushu to save money? Fine. But when you take an animated movie and convert it into live-action, and the animated movie is a musical, the live-action should be a musical as well. If it’s such a huge roadblock adding Mushu, adding bright colors, and cutting the songs for realism, then either don’t make the movie or don’t make it a Mulan movie. That is what it all revolves around, Disney can keep taking elements crucial to movies, as long as they’re keeping the original title, and people will flock to buy tickets.

This brings me to Peter Pan and Wendy, released April 28, the movie is already sinking with harsh reviews, ending up with a 4.2/10 on IMDb, and it’s not hard to see why. The original Peter Pan film feels so full of color and life, utilizing the color patterns perfectly and using light and dark textures to their advantage. For the live-action, even as far back as the teaser trailer, the warnings were present. There are almost no bright colors outside of Tinker Bell’s magic, and once again everything looks bland and oddly darker than it should. The flight montage throughout London should be magical and thrilling, but even the live-action trailer makes it feel less special and you can see they lost that magic instead of gaining any. What’s the point of making this remake if the animated version just all around looks better? Nostalgia, and it’s selling.

The unfortunate trend of losing creativity for realism continues past Mulan and Peter Pan far into the other classic Disney films being turned into live-action versions. Sebestains’ big eyes and loud mouth in the classic “Little Mermaid,” have been swapped for a more real-world crab look. Flounders’ goofy body proportions and unique nose are erased as well. This may accomplish the goal of feeling more realistic, but at the cost of sacrificing character expression and leaving only the voice actors to make them work, similar to the problem faced by the live-action version of Mulan, but at least they kept the animated animals in some way.

And that list is far from the end, the recently announced live-action Moana will appear after a whopping six years since its animated counterpart, having absolutely no reason for existing so early. It’s time for this 56-year-long journey of “reimagining” and “reinventing” to come to a screeching halt.