• Pablo Lario

Are Disney Live-Actions Ruining Our Childhood?

Disney... Why don't you do like Pixar and stay with the animated cartoon movies like you always have? I know... Live-action remakes give a lot of money, that's true, but... WHY DO YOU NEED TO RUIN OUR CHILDHOOD IN THE PROCESS!!! (DISNEY: I DON'T CARE! MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!!)

I know, I know; most of you will say Disney live-action remakes are generally very successful with phrases like: "Aladdin wasn't that bad" or "Simba is back, and looks awesome (Go kick Scar's a**)", or even "Maleficent is my favourite princess now". PRINCESS!?

It's true that Disney live-action films haven't been a full disaster in theatres, besides flying Dumbo's adaptation and Pete’s Dragon... (WHO'S PETE'S DRAGON ANYWAYS?), but, are they actually successful? Or is it just that we go and watch them, not because they're actually good, but just because Disney have us grabbed by the nostalgias?

As a long time Disney fan (that includes Pixar, Marvel, and whatever franchise they own by now), I would prefer to watch an animated film rather that its live-action counterpart. Of course, I would go to the cinema and watch the live-action remake with some friends, my girlfriend (I don't have one, so...), or even family, but, I would prefer to watch the animated one 3000 times over. The old Disney movies are pure classics, and every bit (characters, action, jokes, etc) takes me back to my dear childhood, something that I feel live-actions cannot transmit anymore, even if they try, it's just Disney’s way of creating a CGI illusion for us, while they're swimming in a pool full of golden coins just like Scrooge McDuck. Seriously, do you feel the same way watching Will Smith’s "Prince of Bel-Arabia” than you did marvelling in Robin Williams' magic? Seriously!?

Beauty & the Beast and Aladdin attempted to introduce half-cooked "sad and very dramatic" backstories for The Beast and Aladdin respectively, but, they ended up being dull, tedious and very unnecessary, especially when you put them together with the splendour of songs like “Be Our Guest” or “A Whole New World”. These absurd attempts didn’t fit with the creative and expansive imagination the original stories require. So, I’d rather see Jasmine and Aladdin unrealistically hold clouds in the sky rather than stay close to the ground... FOR F*** SAKE! WE ALL KNOW IT'S FAKE! WE LOVE IT BECAUSE ITS IMAGINATIVE! THAT'S THE KEY!

But, I guess that's hard for Mickey mouse's head to deal with, as Disney still believing that to make these new live-action films more relatable to audiences they have to introduce “grittier” or “more realistic” elements. Not really, mate... Not really (CGI IS NOT EVERYTHING, OK!?). Now, when I see a live-action from Disney, all I can see is just shot for shot remakes with a touch of human life realism, something that completely breaks the childhood imagination feeling and becomes total randomness. As long as they win money, oh well...

This is sadly disappointing, especially when the live-action versions could expand and improve on the originals. Aladdin, The Beauty & The Beast, Cinderella, etc... All great hits in cinemas, but never had the touch to beat its original animated film. For example, the new Aladdin was a prime opportunity to celebrate Arab culture and the Middle East, and actually, involve Arab and Middle Eastern creators to tell this story with authentic elements. Instead, Guy Ritchie just gave us a drab, simplistic, and unimaginative Western interpretation of the dreamed Arabia that would have "my dear" Robin roll in his grave.

The main problem with most of Disney live-action remakes has been an unwillingness to take creative risks. Even when Disney does allow filmmakers to introduce new elements, they are, more often than not, half-baked ideas that don’t add much to the overall narrative. While we learn more about Jasmine and Belle’s mothers and how they died (I really cared about that... SHUT UP!), their stories are by and large unchanged from the original films, and they have almost the exact same roles they did before. Jasmine is given an empowering song with “Speechless” and we learn why Belle’s father took her away to a small town from a big world, but the narratives are the same. WHY, WHY, WHY!?

Unfortunately, the same goes for Aladdin and The Beast (Don't you escape from this one, guys). We learn more about their backstories than Donald Trump's plan to make The Wall. These stories don’t affect the plot, so... WHY THE F*** ARE THEY EVEN IN THE FILM!? It’s as though the filmmakers thought that adding backstory equals good storytelling when really these are facts you can easily find in a Wikipedia article. So, NO PLOT POINTS AT ALL, RITCHIE!

They could have been interesting and help drive the plot, but the writers of these films simply didn’t put any effort into it. Sadly (not for them), they expect the live-action to sell anyway because it’s an already beloved classic story, and a little more information added. Lazy bastards! Ultimately, it’s harsh to see that the more current live-action films didn’t take this as a bad example. So, I hope to see how the upcoming Lion King fares, and if its director Jon Favreau will make something memorable on its own merits. (The Little Mermaid is casting Javier Bardem for King Triton's role? Oh, F***!)

At this point, it seems like Disney is selling these live-action remakes as a nostalgic cash grab and little else. If this continues like this, the studio is going to run out of nostalgically treasured films to remake and, in the end, they would end up making actual re-imaginings like "Cinderella 3: The Fate Of The Lost Crystal Shoe" or "The Lion King 4: Jackass Edition". Originality, to whatever degree they have it, always sells better in the long run. (Oh yeah! One final thing: If they add Mushu in Mulan... I might change my mind)

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