Let’s cut some slack for Disney’s live-action adaptations and remakes


Since Walt Disney Animation Studios grew famous after it released its first fully animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in 1937, Disney has gained a reputation as one of the most popular and successful entertainment companies of all time.

Disney movies transport viewers to a magical and fantastical world; millions of families across the globe share the joy of these beautiful films. 

In 2010, Disney’s fourth ever live-action adaptation, following The Jungle Book (1994), 101 Dalmatians (1996), and 102 Dalmatians (2000), was of the classic cartoon film Alice In Wonderland (1951). When the film received high praise from fans, there was a massive uproar in live-action remakes being produced by Disney. 

Works such as Maleficent (2014), Cinderella (2015), Beauty and the Beast (2017), and Cruella (2021) were highly acknowledged. Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast were both remakes and stayed very closely to the plot of the original movies. Maleficent and Cruella were adaptations where the story was told from the perspective of the villains of Sleeping Beauty (1959) and One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). 

However, the reaction was not the same for many other live-action remakes and adaptations. When the live-action remake of Dumbo (1941) was released in 2019, it received ridicule for its poor CGI and drawn out storyline.

The Lion King, also released in 2019, displeased many fans as they believed the realistic faces of the animals took away much of the emotion that was in the animated version. In 2020, a live-action adaptation of Mulan (1998) was released. This film received major backlash, mainly due to the fact that so many elements from the original were changed or taken away. 

It can certainly be argued that Disney has produced some of the most iconic films in our culture. Many of these cartoon movies which have been succeeded by a live-action remake were classics that were nostalgic for long-time fans.

However, live-action films possess their own magic that can not be portrayed through animated films. 

Wardrobe and costuming have much more room to excel in in live-action film, as intricate detailing can be quite impressive.

Although live-action talking animals can take away emotion from a film, live-action actors typically better execute raw emotion and offer an authenticity which can only be attained by a physical person.

Even the classics have little flaws and inconsistencies. Live-action adaptations present an opportunity to improve the original film by changing or adding minor details.

While it is important to keep these magical films which we hold so dear close to our hearts, perhaps there is a new era amongst the horizon.

Maybe, instead of focusing on these live-action adaptations capturing every detail from the originals, we should enjoy what they present as their own story.