I think I know what my parents feel like when I see original movies from the nineties being remade. It’s becoming common. Sure, The Lion King was a dud, but Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast were great. I’m even interested in The Witches remake set for next year.
I’m thirty now, and my friends and family are all starting to have children. I’ll be having children within a few years too. So there’s this passing of the torch between parent and child of experiencing the same idea in a new way. Film remakes are actually kinda perfect at helping to bridge the generational gap. Worst case scenario is that you could write off the remake and then make them watch the original. They may even be excited to find out there is another version of this NEW movie they’ve just watched. I think giving these movies a twenty-year breather from the original is pretty reasonable. The people that are making these remakes are usually inspired by the original and want to make something that can match it.
Disney’s acquisition of Fox has given them a huge library of IP they can do with as they wish. They announced they have plans to reboot Home Alone, Night at the Museum, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these choices. These are likely going to be made for Disney’s streaming service (Disney+) and not see a theatrical release. Are you telling me if you subscribe to Disney+, you wouldn’t be down to watch a new Home Alone if it dropped in December? Besides, Home Alone is an idea that is fun to play with as technology and social interactions change. I would probably even watch the original straight after it.
So I’m not sure why there is hate for remakes? I hate when features like the one HERE, by the Independent write “Home Alone is proof Hollywood’s dying a terrible death”. Reading these articles makes me facepalm so fast you could confuse me with being attacked by a face-hugger. Hollywood has been remaking movies since the beginning of the film industry. It wasn’t until The Wizard of Oz had been adapted for the screen a third time that we saw the beloved The Wizard of Oz (1939), yet I’m sure the newspapers weren’t going, Hollywood is running out of ideas. Looking at the list of the highest-grossing films of 2019 already shows that remakes don’t make up for nearly that many films. Yes, a lot are sequels, but most are still original films.
Remakes are fine. Disney will be making plenty in the future and then remaking those remakes in another twenty years. I have expectations going into Disney +, and the content they’re making for it fits those expectations. That’s why Disney+ is not the Netflix killer. Netflix has so many weird cylinders it’s firing off that it will make Disney+ feel like a niche service. I think everybody would expect to be jumping into Disney+ for the nostalgia and the adaptations over anything else.
And after all, wasn’t Home Alone 2 just a remake of the first one?
The Lion King (1994) is one of the most beloved films in the house of mouse, and for many, it is their favorite. For one it’s a great film, however, I think it also has a lot to do with the timing. The Lion King along with the other titles in the Disney Renaissance were all exceptional, and all very much BINGED.
If you think back to the eighties when the Betamax and VHS started to take off it was still a mostly rental experience. You would head down to the local video shop and rent the movie for a night or a few days. To buy one movie outright could cost close to $100 US, and that was back then. It’s understandable as film studios were scared of home video killing the movie theater experience and named absurd costs. By the nineties, nearly everyone with a tv owned a VHS player and the cost to buy a movie was now consumer-friendly. Enter the kids of the nineties. We owned every new Disney movie, and they weren’t released as frequently as today, so we spent a lot of time binging the same VHS over and over again. We ran those tapes so often that the tapes began to deteriorate. Basically, every child of the nineties could perform these movies off script like a performance of Shakespeare in the Park.
Twenty-five years after The Lion King (1994) was released, I can still recall every scene. To this day the movie is not dated. Sadly, The Lion King (2019) is not good, but terrible even. The movie looks beautiful, sounds great, yet what looks like live-action animals talking ruins the movie. The talking works with some of the animals like Timon, Pumba, and Rafiki. Just not the lions, not at all. Even the characters mentioned don’t quite fit because the original voices are so engrained into us that we have trouble buying anyone else in the role. Disney really needed to get this one right for the fans of the original. The Jungle Book (2016) worked well because I don’t think we collectively remember the original as well. And from memory, the animals all worked for me. With The Lion King (2019), Jon Favreau shot it to look like a nature documentary and he should have gone all the way. First off take out all the spoken dialogue. Cut it down to eighty minutes. Keep the songs and just play them over the film. Have David Attenborough, or better yet Nathan Lane, the original Timon to narrate the film. These changes would take the movie from a meh to a woah.
I’m sure there are defenders for The Lion King (2019), but it falls in the same category as live-action movies with talking animals to me. It’s hard to not see Disney using this film as a cash grab because.. well, a billion in revenue already? That’s more than the original made. In another twenty-five years, this version will be dated and the animated will continue to be a classic enjoyed by everyone.
Long Live the King (94)!
Classic literature always tends to stay in the vernacular. It’s usually untouched and repackaged solely with new cover art. That’s often all that’s necessary to modernize the classics. In film, it’s slightly different. Each film is constrained to a budget, a studio’s guidelines, the technology available, and finally the director’s vision. Every time somebody remakes the source material, they will be drawn to new things and give the film new perspectives and takes that were not originally there. Disney is now in a place where it can provide these new visions to new generations. It would be unfortunate if the live action Lion King is terrible, but I would move on because subjectively it may just not be for me, although it could be the favorite movie of a child today. To date, Disney has done a great job with the live action films from the animated classics.
Disney’s Aladdin (1992) is my second favorite Disney film right after Beauty and the Beast. It wasn’t just that original movie I fell for either. I loved the sequels and even the tv show. I was all in, and it was more to do with the characters than the story. Between Aladdin, Genie, Jasmine, Abu, Carpet, and Iago, you can’t go wrong. I wish I were going on incredible journeys with them as a kid. Seeing the movie play out in live-action was incredible; it also helped that Guy Ritchie directed it. The movie hit upon all the memorable points throughout the original Aladdin film and fleshed out other parts for dramatic effect. It all plays out like the Aladdin you know in live-action with a Bollywood flavor throughout.
The cast at large are relatively unknown to the masses, all with the exception of Will Smith as Genie. For most, Genie was the make it or break it point because it’s unfathomable to go against Robin Williams. Tactfully, Will Smith gives nods with throwbacks to Robin and shapes his own performance into one that is more grounded. Next up is Aladdin (Mena Massoud), he is agile and charming as you would want, although it all means nothing if there isn’t any chemistry between him and Jasmine. Luckily the two are paired perfectly together. Jasmine (Naomi Scott) is the star of the film. She has a much stronger character here than just the damsel she was in the original, and I enjoyed seeing that play out for all the young girls out there that will watch it. Additionally, there is a new song that placates Jasmine as one of the biggest standouts of the live-action Disney films so far. People have had their problems with the live-action look of Jafar, but I’ll say that it works. If they portrayed Jafar like the animated film he would come off as an old creepy and perverted man.
Here is a sample of Naomi Scott’s talent as Jasmine
Unless you hold the original too close to your heart that you dare not see any interpretation, you will find something to like in this wonderful adaptation. Aladdin has been adapted in a similar fashion to Beauty and the Beast (2017). Nothing has been taken away, while some things have been added at no cost to the overall story. So I think you should take the journey with Aladdin and share in “A Whole New World”.
Goodbye Christopher Robin was my favorite film of last year, so I was beyond excited to see Christopher Robin. And I’ll get into what I thought…
Christopher Robin begins with a tea party for Christopher as he leaves the 100 Acre Wood for boarding school. Then through montage, we see he loses his father, he marries, he goes to war, and comes home after serving away for years to meet his daughter. Then he settles as a manager overseeing an executive bag making company. This older Christopher (Ewen McGregor) has grown into a self-involved working man. Christopher puts his family second and cancels a weekend trip away so he can work to please his boss. Over in the 100 Acre Wood Winnie awakes to find all his friends are gone and seeks out Christopher Robin after not seeing him since he was a child at the tea party. Christopher stumbles into Winnie, yet Christopher is still more interested in finishing his work but eventually decides to help Winnie find their friends.
The scenes that focus solely on Christopher Robin without Winnie and friends are boring and derivative. We don’t need to be told the story of a father that loses focus of his family in favor of work, especially here. Another blunder was casting Ewen McGregor, he looks good on the poster, but he didn’t pull it off. There was no Christopher Robin in him, and it wasn’t something that came later as he rediscovered what was important. The scenes involving Winnie were enchanting, yet they were not emotionally moving because Ewen McGregor’s acting was flat. I wanted it to be a bit of a psychological film playing with our minds whether Winnie was real or imaginary, but it was clear they were real as everyone could see them.
Christopher Robin should have taken a lesson from Spielberg’s Hook as he did a phenomenal character study on the reimagining of a beloved character. If Winnie and friends were not so engaging this would have been a terrible film, instead, it evens the film out to be just ok. If you are interested in Winnie the Pooh, go and see Goodbye Christopher Robin.