My Best to Worst Ranking of Disney’s live-action remakes of their own animated films that they’ve made… so far:
2015’s romance drama directed by Kenneth Branagh was a near-masterpiece. Branagh took a serious approach to the material, and it worked. Lily James was perfect as the title princess, and Cate Blanchett gave a sinister supporting performance as The Evil Stepmother. The ballroom sequence took my breath away – and is far better than the new “Beauty”‘s attempt.
Last summer, The Mouse House released their update on the ’77 original that most people don’t consider a classic. The gingerly-paced story and small-town setting were absolutely refreshing, as were the visuals, which kept the children engaged, while stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley and Robert Redford kept the adults interested.
Angelina Jolie gave a powerhouse performance in the 2014 shake-up of “Sleeping Beauty”. Like “Cinderella”, its costumes were Oscar-nominated, though the Makeup & Hairstyling should’ve been considered as well. I still don’t know HOW the makers were able to get Jolie’s cheekbones to match those of the iconic animated villain.
“THE JUNGLE BOOK”
Last year’s remake, from Favreau, earned the Visual Effects Academy Award – essentially for digitally creating every element of the film EXCEPT for its central character, Mowgli. The look was spectacular, and the script includes some terrific intense moments. But the voice ensemble was mixed: loved Sir Ben Kingsley as Bagsheera, but Bill Murray was a distraction as Baloo.
It’s been a long time since I’ve watched the 1996 comedy, but I remember liking Glenn Close as Cruella very much. [Emma Stone is rumored to star in a new Cruella movie, and she should be great.] 2000’s “102 Dalmatians” followed.
“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”
“Maleficent” featured a big twist that definitely took audiences by surprise, but they went with it and the movie succeeded as a whole. But the “Beauty” re-vamp twisted and turned the story of my all-time favorite movie so much that (outside of the new songs and the costumes and sets), I found it impossible to like.
THE “ALICE” FILMS
Tim Burton’s 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” was a box office smash thanks to the 3D phenomenon, but it was a fairly underwhelming film. Last year’s sequel (that Burton only produced; he chose to direct “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” instead) was slightly more tolerable thanks to some of the themes, but still far from spectacular.
IN THE WORKS:
As of now, we know Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King”, Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin” (and maybe a Genie film too), Burton’s “Dumbo” (which won’t star Will Smith) and Stone as “Cruella” are on the way, along with new versions of Pooh (titled “Christopher Robin” – the script was just ordered to be re-written), “The Little Mermaid” (Lindsay Lohan?), “Snow White” and a cousin “Rose Red” spinoff. I cannot tell a lie that a new “Pinocchio” is also in development, as well as a new “Sword in the Stone”.
If you wish upon a star that Disney would stop doing these remakes, I just don’t think that wish will come true.