With the recent release of Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, the Mouse House proved indefinitely that not only are the animation-to-live-action adaptations a good idea, but that they’re here to stay. Of course The Jungle Book was the fourth of a string of these adaptations that have ranged from good to mediocre.
Though many were dismayed at Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, I personally thought it contained a wacky charm that served Lewis Carroll’s book well. While Maleficent was by no means a poor film, and its focus on the villain was a great idea, the retelling of the classic fairytale didn’t translate well. Cinderella was beautifully made, retaining the charm of the original film while adding flair of its own. It was my favorite of the live-action retellings until The Jungle Book came along.
But above all, the live-action adaptations have proved a monetary boon to the Disney Company (with Alice In Wonderland alone garnering over $1 billion). So it’s no surprise that Disney has announced a slew of classic (and some non-classic) live-action retellings. The list includes: Pinocchio, The Sword in the Stone, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasia, The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, Mulan, Winnie the Pooh, Chip ’n’ Dale, Aladdin, and both a Tinker Bell film and an untitled “Prince Charming” film.
The films that excite me the most are The Sword in the Stone, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast (which with stellar stars like Emma Watson, Stanely Tucci, and Ian McKellen, is shaping up to be quite a film). While I have full faith in the Disney story brains, I’d just as soon throw out several of these films on this list and replace them with different classic Disney animations. While the three aforementioned films are at the top of the list of much-needed live-action adaptations, there are several films that would translate superbly onto the big screen (or at least more so than Tinker Bell).
The Rescuers Down Under
If there’s one word to summarize this film, it’s “adventurous”. The Australian outback would be a fantastic setting to film on location, and Disney proved with The Jungle Book and Cinderella that they can give non-caricatured animals all the charm and personality of their animated counterparts. I personally would be ecstatic to see Miss Bianca and Bernard interact with Joanna the monitor lizard. And the flight through the clouds atop the majestic eagle would be a spectacle to behold.
The Lion King
Prior to seeing The Jungle Book, I emphatically stated that The Lion King would be absolutely impossible to make due to its need to be 100% CGI. Then I was immersed in the photo-realistic jungle that looked and felt like it was filmed in the rain forests of India, and my mind was instantly changed. Now that I know that CGI is of no issue, my only hesitation is eradicated. The Lion King is already Shakespearean in style, so it would translate perfectly. Cherry pick the best songs as they did with The Jungle Book and you have another instant classic on your hands. Still not convinced? Envision this: that stunning opening shot recreated on the Serengeti plains, with those same stirring vocals of “Circle of Life”.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Chances are you’ve probably never seen this film. It was released during the 2000s, which was a hit-and-miss decade for Disney. It comes highly recommended. Like The Rescuers Down Under, it’s adventurous. Its Jules-Verne-like method of storytelling and style coupled with its mythos makes for one exciting experience. And this is a film that the art directors and cinematographers and set designers could go to town with. The scene alone where the sea creature attacks the submarine—an already eerie scene in the animated film—could really turn out spectacularly if done convincingly.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Disney has shown that they’re not afraid to alter their storylines in order to tell a more palpable and heart-felt story. The already existing storyline of a man shunned by society simply for being disfigured and then used by a pernicious antagonist, with adjustments for affect, could be really enticing. Cast some great comedic actors to do the motion-capture for the gargoyles and you have the makings of a hit.
2015 saw a couple bad to terrible iterations of the demigod, and to this day the animated film remains the best there is. This is Disney’s opportunity to make their live-action adaptation that could potentially become the defining Hercules flick. Though it wasn’t as instantly accepted as The Little Mermaid or Frozen, I feel that the animated film has grown in popularity over the years. Cast a great comedic actor as Phil the satyr and someone who can bring terror and humor to Hades, and the potential is there.
Like Atlantis: The Lost Empire, you’ve probably never enjoyed this film. It’s a retelling of the classic “Treasure Island”, except taking place among the cosmos instead of the high seas. A film of its kind has never been made, and it’s been a while since we’ve had a “Treasure Island” remake, so Disney seemingly as a staple on it. A live-action retelling would be a great way to introduce the populace to the animated film, and a romping adventure in outer space with that classic pirate theme sounds like a perfect project for Disney to sink its teeth into.