Are Disney Live Action Remakes Better Than The Originals?

Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King – what do all these films have in common? They are all part of the latest wave of Disney live action movie remakes! What do audiences think of these old yet new and possibly improved films? YouTubers Super Carlin Brothers, John Campea, Council of Geeks, Jeremy Jahns and Beyond The Trailer share some of their thoughts on the Disney movie trend.

As long as these movies keep coming out, and they are crowd pleasing, and people are enjoying them and they are making money and they are successful, why would people get fatigue?

Disney is a business and the goal is to keep making movies that make money, but from an artistic standpoint, the live action remakes are pointless and almost damaging to the Disney brand, according to Council of Geeks, who is against the live action remakes. Confused by the popularity, he points out that Disney is literally remaking the same movie just in a live action form without any sort of differentiation or maybe a deviation from the original to make the film stand out, “if they weren’t musicals literally recycling the same songs…I’d be slightly better disposed to them…but um, yeah.”  The YouTuber argues that new elements need to be added in order for the new film to stand on its own merits. He uses the film Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie and Christopher Robin, starring Ewan McGregor, as examples of live action remakes with a completely new twist and plot line making it a whole new film.

First of all in my mind this entire practice is pointless…it already exists, it’s considered a classic, you’re just doing it again and you’re not differentiating it.

However, YouTuber Jeremy Jahns felt that Disney did indeed add some new side storylines and elements like in the Aladdin (2019) remake. He felt they were entertaining and added a refreshing take on the film:

When the movie actually branches off and does its own thing I enjoyed it, when it tries to emulate what happened before and it just does it in a way that’s not as good or as effective as the original animation…the Disney animation just did that better.

One example was the relationship between Aladdin and the Genie (in non-genie form) and how the movie really played on their characters camaraderie and great chemistry, “when he was Will Smith…when he drops the whole CGI thing, he’s actually quite charismatic, because Will Smith is indeed charismatic, he and Aladdin actually do have chemistry together, I enjoyed him in that form.”

Also loving the new added elements to the live action Aladdin film, YouTuber Beyond The Trailer believed the diverse casting really played well with audiences, specifically the casting of Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud, and elevated the story into its own Disney film outright:

It’s impossible not to notice the power of having the story told with an ethnically correct cast…it's especially enchanting to see not just a film that takes place on the other side of the globe but one that’s a full on fairy tale, a legit fairy tale.

She did note that for being a musical, the musical numbers weren’t as strong as she would have expected. There were off camera angles and views in which she faulted the director Guy Ritchie for his inexperience with musicals. Jahns also made note of this saying the appointment of Ritchie as director was strange and even after watching the film, still thought it was an interesting call.

Both YouTubers agreed the casting of Will Smith really set this movie apart from the original animated version in that his performance really helped carry the film:

But this movie is powered by Will Smith…it’s a lot of fun, a little sassy and full of heart…just like Will Smith…and he doesn’t try to be Robin Williams and in doing so he succeeds wildly.

YouTuber John Campea and his co-host Robert Meyer Burnett, also agreed that new elements added in these remake films brought a different vibe and a refreshing voice to the original stories. An example they mentioned was their excitement for Lin Manuel Miranda’s take on The Little Mermaid, with new songs composed by the artist himself.

In the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast (2017), starring notable actors such as Emma Watson, Josh Gad, and Luke Evans, Super Carlin Brothers appreciated how the film was able to dive deeper into the background of the Beast. The story was able to give more details about his personality more than just being a scary creature, “I like that he wasn’t uneducated…I thought that was a cool new development…it did actually add something to why Belle and the Beast would have maybe had a deeper connection…they literally show them sitting next to each other just reading books.”

Though some were enjoyable, not all of the new scenes sat well with the YouTubers. The Super Carlin Brothers felt like some of the added new elements to the film Beauty and the Beast actually did a disservice to the movie and felt that it was unnecessary and took away from the rest of the story. The enchantress’s book, the new artifact and storyline, didn’t add any new layers to the story to make it more entertaining or interesting:

I don’t like it….the only reason it is in there at all is to explain Belle’s mothers…on the other hand I’m like that was not needed at all…I did not like that storyline, I thought it was stupid…it was odd and actually took you away from the rest of the story.

So is the Disney live action remake trend good or bad for original films?

There is no live action remake fatigue according to John Campea. In his round table discussion about Disney’s trend in remaking live action films, the group comes to a conclusion that the majority of the films so far have been quite enjoyable and entertaining.

I think there’s going to be directors vying to do these now. I mean these are top shelf, top drawer A list productions that they’re throwing all the best people and all the best technology at.

Campea and his co-hosts agree that these new films are great for the entire family to enjoy and does not see Disney slowing down with the trend – “As long as these movies keep coming out, and they are crowd pleasing and people are enjoying them and they are making money and they are successful, why would people get fatigue?”

In contrast, Council of Geeks believes that the films do no justice to the original animated movies, claiming that Disney is unknowingly creating a stigma that animated films are only for a certain type of audience, which weakens the merits of the original films as great films and not as great cartoon films:

Doing these live action remakes, it fundamentally undermines the art of animation and it reinforces the conception…that real movies are live action and animated movies are just for kids.

Disney’s trend of live action remakes has given off mixed reviews from audiences, some who are completely into it saying it brings new life and visual imagery to the original film, while others say it is causing fatigue and bringing zero new elements to an already great classic.

Aladdin, The Lion King, The Jungle Book and more live action remakes are now streaming on Disney+. YouTubers Super Carlin Brothers, John Campea, Council of Geeks, Jeremy Jahns and Beyond The Trailer review the latest movie trends and more every week on their channels.