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Article – Disney Dives Into Live-Action Remakes… and they’d better be good


Posted February 11, 2018 by

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Disney Dives Into Live-Action Remakes

It is relatively safe to say that Disney is synonymous with classic. Classic for timeless tales of love, adventure and fun, early childhood cinematic experiences and captivating animated storytelling. When the very idea of you sparks a series of nostalgic, untouchably traditional and in a way static flashbacks, any attempt for rejuvenation is evidently risky.

And yet, in a spree of live-action remake announcements, that is exactly what Disney is bidding for. What kicked off with Maleficent and Beauty and the Beast has now stretched to a whole set of all-time classics, from Aladdin and The Lion King, to Mulan and, reportedly, even The Little Mermaid.

Here is a closer look at what may or may not work in four of the most eagerly anticipated Disney live-action remakes.

The Lion King

Admittedly, this is dangerously fragile territory. If Disney is aiming to live up to this shining original, it will have to put up a good fight. Of course, casting Donald Glover and Beyonce sounds pretty persuasive, but audiences have grown accustomed to associating the story and all it represents exclusively with Simba’s perky animated cuteness, Scar’s lime green ideas about world, or throne, domination and the excruciatingly painful realisation of Mufasa’s passing.

Making a bid for success, Disney has recruited director Jon Favreau, the animation genious behind The Jungle Book, to perform the same technological magic touches to The Lion King. Recreating it in any live-action format, and with a suitably justifiable degree of success, would be a cinematic spectacle worth a chance. Rest assured, Disney would not dare to get this wrong.


This is, quite possibly, one of the most recognisable Disney classics. While concerns over an adequate live-remake representation of the narrative are unavoidable here as well, there is another, more prevailing, question. How is Disney actually planning to do it? That is, with ethnic inclusivity and a realistic and respectful cultural awareness in mind.

Producer Dan Lin has already confirmed the intention of going for newcomers of Middle Eastern descent for the leads, as director Guy Ritchie has undertaken the task of recreating this animated classic. Where Disney’s cultural awareness is concerned, as was demonstrated with Moana, a reasonably satisfactory level of undecorated realism can be achieved. All that remains now, anxiously anticipating the success rate of the 2019 release, is try imagining Will Smith coming out of a lamp singing ‘Friend Like Me.’


If there could ever be talks about inspiring and recognisable female empowerment outside Beauty and the Beast, it is Mulan. With its incredibly sincere portrayal of family values, courage, duty and awkward affections, Mulan has long been the unconventional, largely unacclaimed and in many ways purposefully estranged princess. One that is, in a fascinatingly distant way, extraordinarily relatable. Fears now are, rather like in The Lion King’s remake, whether Disney will be able to retain the film’s spirit and meaning in a live-action form.

Whale Rider and McFarland, USA’s Niki Caro has come on board to direct the production, as Disney is particularly keen on casting Chinese actors for the roles. If it all goes well, taking into account that some considerations about violence and the cast’s vocal abilities will have to take place, we are expected to see Mulan’s live-action epic adventure sometime in 2019.


Little is known about this Disney project at present, apart from the fact that Emma Stone has signed on it. The see this villian- one of the most entertainingly wicked baddies in the Disney universe- is to take a sudden chill of anticipation. Clearly, the 101 Dalmatians franchise is a goldmine.

A live-action remake of the 1961 classic already exists in the form of director Stephen Herek’s spotless family entertainment adaptation from 1996. Whether or not Cruella deserves her own independent place in the spotlight is a debatable matter considering the abundance of more prominent, arguably more ‘loved’ Disney villains still awaiting their moment of glory and, possibly, a more fortunate turn of events.

But, honestly, who would not leap at the opportunity to dig deeper into the roots of this fashion-forward lady’s villainy? Or maybe just get to watch Emma Stone getting trashed by a bunch of animals? Glenn Close was superb in her impersonation of Cruella de Vil in 1996… How will Disney top that?


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Written by:

Asya Gadzheva
Digital Portfolio
Freelance Contributor

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