Maleficent. Alice in Wonderland. Cinderella. The Jungle Book. Beauty and the Beast. The Little Mermaid. And on and on.
Walt Disney Studios is bringing some of your favorite animated characters back to life on the big screen in live-action versions of some of their cartoon classics. What began with a retelling of the sleeping beauty story has made possible seemingly every cartoon in the Disney “vault.”
I really enjoyed Maleficent as a being told from the “villain’s” point of view, casting a dark shadow on The noble King Stefan and painting of the traditional evil witch in a sympathetic, albeit victim/survivors light. Sleeping Beauty is a movie I remember fondly from my childhood. We didn’t have many movies on VHS, and the ones that we did have were always copied from one cassette to another or recorded from television. The Disney movies that we did have, like Sleeping Beauty, work copies my aunt had made for us from her official VHS tape’s. So I probably watch more Sleeping Beauty than I should have growing up, but it’s a simple tail with a happy ending. “Good triumphs over evil, the wicked get what they deserve.” The movie Maleficent took that notion and spend it on his head.
I admit that I have never seen the live action version of Cinderella. I haven’t seen the cartoon in over 25 years. I don’t even know who stars in the movie. I don’t know how close it is to the cartoon. So I can’t comment on that.
I have to say that I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, as well as the sequel Through the Looking Glass. Good fun movies. I’d say there easy maybe more focus on the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) than there needed to be. But it’s Johnny Depp, and he’s the “name,” the star power. But they told a good tale, and one that was visually striking.
The Jungle Book was a critical and box office success, and just like its animated predecessor, showed you could do a lot with anthropomorphic mammals. Jon Favreau is a genius. We’ve said that before. My sister saw the movie before me and asked me if I liked the original. When I said I did, she said “you probably won’t like this one. It’s really dark.” I’ll tell you what I didn’t like about it…they took away the damn vultures!
Now…here’s where we may have jumped the land shark (good brew, by the way). When you have an animated movie with talking and singing animals, why would you make a movie that’s largely computer-animated with the same types of animals saying the same words and singing the same songs? Favreau has an upcoming project coming out which you may or may not have heard of. The Lion King. The Lion King has been hugely globally popular since it came out. They turned it into a Broadway show. The soundtrack is the best-selling soundtrack album to an animated feature in the United States.
So how do you improve on that?
But Disney is also casting for a live-action Aladdin movie. It was Universal Studios that was making a Little Mermaid re-imagining, but that project has been out of the headlines since Chloe Moretz dropped out last September.
And a Dumbo movie…that’s apparently a very real thing.
Now on to Beauty and the Beast, which hits theaters next week. It has enough of a blend of human and non-human entities that it can be a reasonable re-telling. Now don’t get me wrong…this movie will be able to print its own money. But you’ll be able to substitute the animated humans with actual humans, so it makes more sense than a cartoon animal to a better looking cartoon animal.
Since I don’t know when I’ll talk about it again I HAVE to bring up the issue of LeFou, Gaston’s hetero-lifemate that we found out last week is a little less hetero in this movie. And that’s fine. I don’t care. I doubt it will have any bearing on the actual plot of the movie. My biggest question is will we get an Olaf sighting?
Allow me to remind you…Josh Gad plays LeFou. Josh Gad also voiced Olaf in the movie Frozen. You may have heard of it. Well, in the 1991 version, LeFou is incognito, hiding outside Belle and Maurice’s home and he is…YOU GUESSED IT…A SNOWMAN!!!
It’s a simple Easter Egg they could slip in. I hope they do.