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  • Writer's pictureLoren Javier

My Ranking Of Disney Live Action Remakes

Today, Disney released the first trailer to the live action remake of Dumbo directed by Tim Burton...

I'm not going to say I'm not a Tim Burton fan, but I haven't been a Tim Burton lately. His films as of late always seem to be the same kind of grotesque fantasy trying to recapture his glory days. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he seems to be going a little more subtle, similar to his 2003 film Big Fish. I'm not sure if I like that it is now told from a human perspective, but I think they got Dumbo down. After watching the trailer a couple of times, I'm taken by Dumbo's eyes. They remind me of the beautiful blue eyes of the animated character. Anyway, I'm willing to give it a chance.

It's interesting how I always feel like I'm going to hate Disney's live action remakes, yet they always manage to surprise me. There is really only one that I outright hate. Today, given this new trailer, I thought I'd rate the Disney live action remakes since this "renaissance" of remakes began with the 2014 Maleficent. This list won't include any of the 101 Dalmatians remakes or Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. So, we're talking about Maleficent, Cinderella, Pete's Dragon (it was half animated), The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast.

This us MY ranking from least favorite to favorite...

Photo: Disney

5. Maleficent (2014)

So, as I mentioned, there was one live action remake that I hated and this is the one. While I thought Angelia Jolie was perfect as Maleficent and did a fantastic job, the rest of the film just fell flat for me. Why on Earth would you want to make one of Disney's best villains and make her a hero?!? Her name literally means "doing evil or harm; harmfully malicious!" I get that this film was supposed to be a reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story with Maleficent as the main character, but I feel they could have done this film without making her the hero. The difference between this film and Gregory Maguire's popular book (and musical) Wicked, which tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, is that Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) still is the villain at the end of the story. I also hated that they made the Three Good Fairies more like the Three Stooges. It was almost painful to watch it. Anyway, if you loved this film, all the power to you. But, for me, it is the only live action remake I do not own.

Photo: Disney

4. Pete's Dragon (2016)

If you've read my blog, you know that the 1977 classic Pete's Dragon is one of my favorite Disney movies. This film and The Rescuers were the first Disney films that I remember coming out in original release. They are very special to me. So, you can imagine my reaction when I found out that they were going to remake Pete's Dragon, but not as a musical. I wanted to hate this movie so much, but, I ended up loving the movie. Its different from the original with different characters, except for Pete and Elliott, in a different location. But, I did think they managed to capture the spirit of the original. While Elliott looked completely different from his 1977 counterpart, he reminded me of him so much. So playful, but protective. As a young boy, I wanted to have a dragon like Elliott and this movie made me want one again. It was a wonderfully emotional film that I still enjoy watching.

Photo: Disney

3. Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I know what you're asking. How could I put Cinderella above Beauty and the Beast? Well, they're pretty much a tie, but I'll tell you in a minute why I liked Cinderella a little better. I thought Beauty and the Beast was fantastic and the music was great. While it took me a little bit to get used to the new songs, I do think they fit in quite well. I love Emma Watson, but I think they could have gotten somebody that was more of an accomplished singer to take on one of the main characters of this movie. The rest of the cast was solid. Ewan McGregor surprised me with his Lumiere. Luke Evans and Josh Gad looked like they stepped out of the animated movie as Gaston and LeFou. I also wished that they had used a combination of CGI and makeup for the Beast. I thought he looked great, but, in close up, his eyes lost some sparkle. My biggest issue was with the Enchantress having lived secretly among the people in the town. All of the townspeople, especially Gaston, were as cruel as the Beast was when he was a prince. Why didn't she cast the same kind of curse on everybody else? But, overall, this movie is a delight to watch.

Photo: Disney

2. Cinderella (2015)

So, why did I rank Cinderella above Beauty and the Beast? For one line - "Have Courage And Be Kind" which Cinderella's mother, played by Hayley Atwell (who I love), tells Cinderella as she is dying. I don't know why, but that line just gives me goosebumps, even as I write it. It makes me want to cry with happiness for some reason. I also think the film is gorgeous and evokes the feeling of the 1950 animated classic without actually copying it. The scene in which she enters the ballroom is absolutely beautiful. While Lily James may be an unorthodox choice for Cinderella, I found her very appealing. Cate Blanchett, who is amazing in everything, killed it as Lady Tremaine. Even Helena Bonham Carter, who I usually despise, was bearable as the Fairy Godmother. This film surprised me in many ways, but I'm a fan of Kenneth Branagh's films. So, I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.

Photo: Disney

1. The Jungle Book (2016)

When I first heard they were making a live action The Jungle Book, I thought that it was a joke. I couldn't even imagine it and I had absolutely no interest in it, even though I knew Jon Favreau was attached. But, when they unveiled footage at the 2015 D23 Expo, I was amazed and intrigued. I didn't realize that they were going to pretty much CGI everything, including the backgrounds. Normally, I don't like so much CGI, but it really worked and the jungle was just gorgeous. The film is a technological achievement for sure. Even as the film started, I wondered if I enjoyed it. But, it literally took a second as the Castle panned out to a river as the Jungle Book overture played which led on to the jungle run. It was as if Kaa had cast his spell on me and I was hooked. I was extremely impressed with Neel Sethi who made a wonderful Mowgli, especially considering he had no human cast to work with and everything was on green screen. I thought Bill Murray might be too much as Baloo, but I enjoyed him. And, Ben Kingsley was perfect as Bagheera. As much as I love the other films (except Maleficent), this film just rises above the rest for me.

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