Why the Disney Live-Action Remakes Are Mistakes

After ranting to a friend about how much I hate the Disney remakes, they challenged me to "go write a thinkpiece about it if they bother you so much."

Challenge accepted.

In recent years, Disney has taken it upon itself to remake many of its beloved old stories and movies and bring them into the modern world as live-action remakes. As far as to why, besides money, the answer seems to be that people love the old stories, and Disney's recent original live-action films, (think Prince of Persia, Tomorrowland, A Wrinkle in Time) didn't perform that well at the box office. And sure, the live-action remakes have been doing really well, numbers-wise. Alice in Wonderland made over $1 billion, (inexplicably, I might personally add,) and since then Disney has picked up the pace with Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), Beauty and the Beast (2017), Christopher Robin (2018), Dumbo (2019), Aladdin (2019), and, in July of this year, The Lion King. Several more are in the works, including remakes of The Little Mermaid (including the recently-casted Halle Bailey as the titular red-haired siren) and Mulan, due to premiere in 2020.

So what, exactly, has caused me so much animosity towards these movies?

Allow me to explain:

1. They're everywhere

It feels like every time I turn around, Disney is remaking an old classic. That list up above? I practically have Twitter hooked up to an artery, pumping pop culture straight into my bloodstream, and I still completely missed the memo that they remade Dumbo or Winnie-the-Pooh, and I while I was aware of Aladdin being remade, I didn't think it was going to be released for another year or two. Who can keep track anymore? Why even bother? Oversaturation is not a cute look, for anyone, and least of all for entertainment media. I know that it's hard to avoid, but this seems excessive, even by Disney standards. Shit, Aladdin, Dumbo, and The Lion King all came out this year alone! Which leads me to my next point:

2. Artistic direction problems

Is this it? Is this all the mighty creativity behemoth Disney has to offer? Can't come up with good original stories, so you just take the perfectly-fine-and-good, don't-fix-it-if-it's-not-broken animated movies from the past five decades, throw in some Uncanny Valley animated photorealistic furniture and horned opera singer, and suddenly you have a "better" Beauty and the Beast? I think not.

In a video essay, YouTuber Lindsay Ellis discusses how one of the biggest problems with Disney remakes is how their goal, or the creators' goal, seems to answer questions nobody seems to have. During Lumiere's performance of "Be Our Guest," the plates and cutlery of the castle dance around with the other enchanted objects. Does this imply that there was a one-to-one ratio of human to enchanted object in the castle? How many servants did the Beast have when he was still a prince, anyway? Why do the people of the (town, village, region? Seems a bit odd a tiny hamlet would have a palace in its midst) all seem to forget there was a monarch?

Listen. There are plot holes, and then there are people who can't just enjoy a piece of work without nitpicking it to the point of death. No, there is not a human for every spinning plate of "Be Our Guest." The plates, the forks, and whatnot are there because it's visually interesting. Imagine any sort of musical number of that type without something happening in the background. Yawn.

3. They seem to forget that animation and live-action are different mediums

Look, you can't have the same Timon and Pumbaa in an animated Lion King than you can in a live-action Lion King. The creators realize this. The problem is, this diminishes some of the appeal. I always got a kick out of of the scene where Timon puts on a hula skirt and sings to distract the hyenas. And it's funny because with animation you can suspend your disbelief further than you can with live-action. In the remake, Timon and Pumbaa sing a couple of bars of "Be Our Guest" and then run away screaming. Where's the fun in that?