Part One: Disney Live-Action Remakes
Let’s start with Beauty and Beast, which I think is the best of the remakes at the moment. That movie made $1.2 billion and introduced the Disney Classic to a new generation of fans. It had a lot of the old things that made the cartoon great but added some new things, fleshed out some of the characters, and was wildly successful. Another live-action remake was Alladin. The remake had an ethnically appropriate cast, and updated some things from the 90s that might be considered offensive today. For example, Disney took out the line in the song “Arabian Nights” that suggested Agraba was barbaric. The idea that other cultures are ‘barbaric’ just because they are different than Western culture is an outdated concept, so the remake allowed Disney to fix that while introducing a great story to a new audience.
Lastly, I would like to discuss Mulan. This movie had the most changes of any of the remakes and struggled with some of the fans. A lot of fans were upset about the changes. Additionally the movie was hounded by controversies which had nothing to do with the content. For example, the lead’s comments supporting Hong Kong police, and rumors of the film being shot at a location that also had Chinese internment camps. While I agree that human rights issues are very serious and should be addressed by Disney, I think that the movie itself was a good movie and that’s what I want to talk about here. Disney changed a lot of things in this movie. They took out all the songs, as well at Eddie Murphy’s character Mushu, and these changes did not all sit well with some fans. I think those changes were necessary, however. Chinese culture looks at dragons like Mushu as a symbol of strength and power, and as entertaining as Mushu was in the cartoon, his portrayal was not consistent with Chinese culture. This movie was a more realistic version of Mulan’s journey and a more realistic depiction of ancient China. While I enjoy the old cartoon, I think the remake gives us another, interesting, perspective on the story. Hopefully, in time, people will come to appreciate it more.
Another movie I need to include, even though it technically is not a remake, is Cruella. Cruella was Disney’s version of the Batman spinoff Joker. It told the story from the point of the view of the bad guy from 101 Dalmatians. I thought it was surprisingly good. The film successfully expanded the character and made her sympathetic and interesting.
Overall, I hope that fans come to appreciate Disney’s attempts to retell some of their great stories. I also look forward to their future projects like The Little Mermaid and Snow White. I think these will also be great additions. I understand not everyone will agree, but please be adults about this in the comments, and I will see you at the movies!