Disney has announced a large slate of live action remakes to their beloved animated properties to be released within the next few years. Although Alice in Wonderland was released in 2010, the trend started in 2014 with the release of Maleficent and has continued ever since. With Beauty and the Beast coming out this weekend, I thought it be a good time to take a look at the remakes put out in theaters thus far.
#5: Alice in Wonderland (2010): Full of all the weirdness of the animated film but none of the heart, Alice in Wonderland largely succeeded at the box office for its 3-D technology coming off of the heels of James Cameron’s Avatar. Johnny Depp is just plain annoying as the Mad Hatter, continuing his tradition of playing zany characters in a lot of makeup. The visuals are certainly impressive, but after awhile they just become nauseating as they overwhelm the audience. Alice in Wonderland was yet another disappointment in the recent filmography of Tim Burton.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Score: 52%
Metacritic Score: 53
MovieBabble Score: D
#4: Maleficent (2014): Angelina Jolie pitches in a great performance as Maleficent in the lead role, but the film as a whole falters mightily. I’m never one to penalize a film for trying something different with the source material it comes from, but Maleficent went way too far, completely changing the character of Maleficent into a misunderstood protector of Sleeping Beauty. For comparison, this change-up would be like if there was an origin story to Voldemort where we found out that he actually protected Harry Potter as a child. Other than this fatal flaw, Maleficent offers nothing noteworthy to make up for it, leading to a disappointing film.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Score: 50%
Metacritic Score: 56
MovieBabble Score: D+
#3: Pete’s Dragon (2016): Sweet yet forgetful, Disney took a chance with this lesser beloved property and made a charming film that unfortunately failed to speak to audiences like the other movies on this list. Pete’s Dragon has a gentle, more restrained feel than many Disney films despite having a big, green fury dragon at the center of the story. While the film doesn’t have that “wow” factor that you look for in a magical Disney retelling, the film filled with nice performances from Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Oakes Fegley.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Score: 87%
Metacritic Score: 71
MovieBabble Score: B
#2: Cinderella (2015): Kenneth Branagh helps to do what Maleficent should have done by adding little twists to the story of Cinderella but keep the central story intact. Lily James was perfect casting as Cinderella, offering all the feel good charm and loveliness that we expect from the famous character. I give a lot of credit to Kenneth Branagh for creating a different feel to this version of Cinderella, making the film feel like a Victorian-era tale. This was the film that validated the need for Disney to move forward with their plans to create live action remakes as it perfectly balanced new qualities with old qualities that we love. Cate Blanchett gets special recognition for her suitably hateful performance as the Wicked Stepmother.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Score: 83%
Metacritic Score: 67
MovieBabble Score: A-
#1: The Jungle Book (2016): To this day I still can’t believe that this scene was filmed on a green screen in Los Angeles and not in a jungle somewhere in the rain forest. No film should ever have an excuse for poor CGI now that this movie has been released. Jon Favreau once again shows how great of a director he is when given the right material as The Jungle Book even improves on the original. While the film neither commits to taking the source material in a new direction or staying close to the original, the film has great performances from Neel Sethi as the only character in live action as well as Idris Elba, Bill Murray, and Ben Kingsley in voice roles.
Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Score: 95%
Metacritic Score: 77
MovieBabble Score: A-
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*Note: Alice Through the Looking Glass is based off an animated film that was not produced by Disney