Will the New Disney Movies Become Timeless Classics?

23

I grew up on the ’80s and ’90s Disney classics.

I wanted to flip my fins like Ariel, run through the hidden pine trails of the forest like Pocahontas and live in a tale as old as time like Belle. If you were to look back into my childhood, you’d probably find me outside in a field, singing my own version of these songs while I pretended to be the star in my own show. (I’m sure you can tell that I was homeschooled for a while!)

And according to my parents, when I wasn’t outside frolicking somewhere, I was an eager 3-year-old sitting in the theatre, watching the original version of The Lion King, shouting “Nants ingonyama bagithi babaaaaaaaaaa” at the top of my lungs.

Those were the days. And, thanks to Disney, they’re also the days right now for kids growing up today. For nearly a decade now, Disney has been systematically working through its movie catalog, transforming beloved animated classics into live-action remakes (albeit with a lot of CGI, in several cases). That list includes Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Christopher Robin and Maleficent.

And this week, we add The Lion King to that list as well.

Obviously, Disney’s depending on nostalgia to market these reboots. I mean, who doesn’t want to experience most of these stories in fresh new ways. Still, I can’t help but wonder, will I be able to pass down my love for Disney classics to my littles with these action-packed remakes?

Now, before you think this is some sort of hate fest, it’s not. The live-action versions are beautiful, stunning and absolutely captivating. They’re movies that, as an adult, I’d watch with or without my son.

But these versions, though well made, can also be far more intense than the animated originals, thanks to the moviemakers’ amazing dedication to photorealism. Plugged In’s Bob Hoose reviewed The Lion King and had this to say about its realistic nature:

The fact is, that incredible realism comes with some perhaps unintended consequences. Parents need to be aware that in this beautifully realistic mix, bared claws and teeth look far sharper, dark shadows filled with snarling enemies are far scarier. Those roaring, screeching clashes between anthropomorphized beasties can be far more intense and heart-wrenching. And Mufasa’s death scene feels even more tragic and heartrending than it did in the animated 1994 version.

I suppose it comes with the territory. The goal is to make the films feel more realistic. But will that lifelike quality impact young and sensitive viewers more negatively, too? In the case of the rebooted version of The Lion King, perhaps.

Who wrote this?

Kristin Smith is the most recent addition to the Plugged In team. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. When she's not writing or editing, she enjoys traveling the world with her husband, Eddy, and running through Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods. She loves coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan), and is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first baby, Judah.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 27 days ago
I'm sure nearly all of these will do fine in theaters, but I really don't see them becoming classics of their own.  Five, ten, or twenty years down the road, I just don't see very many people showing the remakes to their kids or grand-kids.  I think they'll still show them the originals. 
Anonymous 29 days ago
And yes 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close definitely counts as the first live action Disney remake. It wasn't a very good one in my opinion, but it definitely still counts.
Hannah Cole 28 days ago
I wonder why they waited so long between remaking 101 Dalmatians to remaking everything else. It's almost as if they forgot they could until just recently, lol
Anonymous 28 days ago
Glenn Close was great in the 101 Dalmatians remake they released in the 90's!

-Evan
Anonymous 29 days ago
Considering how wonderful most live action Disney remakes have been I say keep 'em coming, and may I suggest: Snow White, Pinocchio, The Sword in the Stone, Bambi, Robin Hood, Tarzan, Pocahontas, and Brother Bear. Some Disney films like The Aristocats, Hercules, or Lilo & Sitch wouldn't make good films in my opinion, but the ones I did mention would make wonderful remakes I think.
Hannah Cole 30 days ago
This got me wondering, does the 1996 101 Dalmatians count as Disney's first live-action remake?
Anonymous 30 days ago
I think The Lion King looks awesome in the previews and I can't wait to see it tomorrow. It'll have to be really something to surpass Aladdin as my favorite movie so far this year, but if anyone can do it The Lion King can.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy 

I don’t really feel like this blog post answers the question that it proposes. That could be intentional, but I prefer reading articles where the author gives his/her opinion instead of leaving it on a, “what do you guys think?”

So if I were to answer the question, no, these remakes will not pass the test of time, nor will they become timeless classics. Why would I introduce my kids to Beauty and the Beast via the live action remake with outdated special effects when I can do it with the hand drawn animated film that came first? It’s like letting them watch The Force Awakens before letting them watch A New Hope.
Julienne Dy 3 months ago
One, I actually enjoyed The Force Awakens.  I did see parts of A New Hope and would have seen the whole thing if the DVD it was on wasn't so messed up.  As far as I can tell, The Force Awakens fit wonderfully within the Star Wars franchise.  Maybe we can both agree that the prequels were "ugh."  Two, my problem with Beauty and the Beast was that it's more obviously political agenda-driven than the original story and that the characters just didn't come to life like they did with the original.  The only two characters that leapt out of the screen for me were Maurice and the Beast.  Everyone else felt rather stiff.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

The Force Awakens does not fit wonderfully within the Star Wars universe. It, like a lot of the live action Disney remakes, are just a pale imitator of a better movie that came before. And for the record, I really liked The Force Awakens when I first saw it. But every time I rewatch it, I like it less than the last time. Even George Lucas himself wasn’t happy with how The Force Awakens turned out, with how it was just a copy of his original film.

That’s why A New Hope will always be a classic while The Force Awakens will eventually be forgotten.
Anonymous 30 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

And yeah, while the prequels cant be considered good films (save for episode III), at least they gave way to some really great Star Wars video games and the excellent Clone Wars cartoon. The sequel trilogy, on the other hand, has given us only 2 games (3 if you count November’s Jedi: Fallen Order), and the cartoon series they gave us is Star Wars Ressistence. Yuck.
charitysplace 3 months ago
I'll pass on The Lion King. It's my favorite animated film and when I saw how ugly and colorless the remake was, I thought: nah. After hearing the soundtrack and the truncated songs I'm even less impressed. 
Anonymous 3 months ago
I've loved most of these live-action Disney reboots, but occasionally a stinker comes along, lol. For the record my favorites are in order: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland/Alice through the Looking Glass, Pan, Maleficent, Pete's Dragon, and Dumbo. The only one I couldn't stand in the least was Cinderella, and in spite of The Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You being in it, the live version of The Jungle Book just couldn't compare with the animated classic from 1967.
Julienne Dy 3 months ago
Pan wasn't made by Disney.  It was a Warner Bros. movie.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy 

That’s what I told him a few months ago!
Anonymous 30 days ago
Pan sure seemed like a different idea on the classic Peter Pan story to me, and since the story of Peter Pan is widely associated with the animated classic I don't think I'm the only one who considers the live action Pan a remake of the Disney original. Again stop being so dang picky since they're both Peter Pan and by far the most popular and most known version of it is Disney's version.
Anonymous 30 days ago
Close enough people. Stop being so gosh-darn nitpicky.
The Kenosha Kid 30 days ago
@Anonymous, Julienne was just making a polite correction. Disney and Warner Bros are not "close enough."

-- The Kenosha Kid
Julienne Dy 30 days ago
The fact that it was made by a different company should and would disqualify Pan as a Disney remake.  I'm pretty sure both the original and the remake must be made by Disney to qualify as a Disney remake.
Julienne Dy 30 days ago
By your definition of a remake, the Peter Pan movie that Universal put out back in 2002 would count as a remake. "confused face"
Anonymous 30 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

For the record, Disney is planning to make their own live action Peter Pan movie, which is intended to be a remake of their animated film. David Lowery, the director of Pete’s Dragon 2016, is directing it.
Anonymous 29 days ago
Honestly I've never even heard of any other live action Pan remake besides the one that came out in 2015, but if Disney truly does decide to make another Pan movie all I can say is it better be as wonderful as 2015's Pan, lol.
Anonymous 28 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

What if Disney’s upcoming remake of Peter Pan is actually a remake of Pan which is actually a remake of Peter Pan 2002 which is actually a remake of Disney’s animated film?

(Cue Han Zimmer’s Dream is Collapsing)