Illustration by Rose Holstein

Opinion: Disney needs to end its obsession with live action remakes

Disney’s live-action remakes continue to fall short of recreating the magic and visual masterpieces of its classics. 

Despite the underwhelming response to Disney’s newest live-action film, “Dumbo,” in late March, Disney plans to release 20 more live-action movies

Has Disney gotten lazy or simply run out of ideas? 

One of the main problems presented by these remakes lies with Disney’s popular use of CGI — computer-generated imagery — animation. Since the 2010 release of Alice in Wonderland, Disney has put out seven more live-action movies, all including the use of computer-generated animals. The biggest issue that arises from using CGI is how facial expressions are translated from person to screen.

Cartoon animals are drawn with the intent to capture and showcase human emotions. While animals have their own distinctive expressions, they are inherently different from those of people, and therefore realistically not comparable. 

The purpose of a live-action is to use photography and photorealism instead of animation. The more realistically Disney depicts its non-human characters, the further away its cinematography will get from the exaggerated, lively versions of the classics.  

In the original “Beauty and the Beast,” the Beast was able to simultaneously encapsulate pain, bitterness and haunting beauty. In the 2017 rendition, the Beast ends up looking more creepy than compelling, and don’t even get me started on Mrs. Potts and Chip

Unfortunately, visuals are not the only aspect Disney seems unable to deliver on. The live-action plots in recent years pale in comparison to the groundbreaking storytelling of their predecessors. 

For instance, “Maleficent” turned an iconic villain into another version of a scorned lover. Although the movie had great potential, “Maleficent” as a whole fell flat. As a character, Maleficent is so terrifying because she is shamelessly wicked. I, too, was excited by the premise of a Disney movie revolving around one of the bad guys, but the only thing the movie succeeded in doing was transforming Maleficent into a modernized female version of Anakin Skywalker.  

Furthermore, Disney still fails to properly implement cultural representation. LeFou in the new “Beauty and the Beast,” played by Josh Gad, became Disney’s first openly gay character, despite the fact that his sexuality can be better described as convenient. Though implied, LeFou’s sexuality was obviously constructed to be overlooked.

The 34th Street Magazine said it best: “The issue of representation in the media won’t be resolved by the re-hashing of old movies that perpetuate stale problems.”

Disney should focus more of its energy on creating inclusive, original stories we all know it’s capable of producing instead of concerning itself with how fast it can pump out another tale literally as old as time.  

Sure, maybe Disney can keep making big bucks solely on the basis of their nostalgia factor, but all good things eventually come to an end. 

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