Lights, Camera, Live-Action Remakes: A Comprehensive Overview

With the new coming-of-age movies coming out and being in the works, many announcements of new movies are being made. Recently, the new Super Mario movie was released on April 5th, 2023, and has the world by storm. In addition, more films are being made based on video games that people have grown up with, for example, the Sonic the Hedgehog movies released.

Now it begs to question, what about cartoons or animated movies?

The first known live-action remake that Disney has done was Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010 which had much success that they began to dabble more into that aspect.

“The first ever live-action remake I remember Disney made was Alice in Wonderland! I fell in love with the original animated version when I was little and remember how excited I was hearing a live-action remake was coming out.” Jade explains.

Jade Manche ’23, a psychology major, shared her thoughts on the live-action era we are in today. She then went on to say that this movie was the one that started her love for Tim Burton movies. Other Shepherd students also shared their first showing of remade Disney movies.

Kayla Davis, ’26, a theater major, says, “I think the first one I heard of was Cinderella. I was interested in seeing it. I wanted to see if they’d add to or change about the story.”

TB ‘ 24, a psychology major, says, “The first live-action remake that I heard about was the Jungle Book. After I heard about the remake, I wanted to see it. I grew up watching just about all the Disney movies on VHS tapes that my grandmother kept. When I heard about the remake, it brought my inner child to life.”

The three students have expressed that while most of these are heart-warming that the younger children can witness the magic within these movies, it can have them re-live their childhoods while watching these among the crowd. While there are heartwarming reactions, some think they are too much; even though the industries produce these movies, others say it’s unnecessary. However, TB shares that “remakes are very common” among the film industries, not just Disney.

As we all know, The Little Mermaid movie is being released on May 26th, 2023, and as the newest trailer is released, more people are giving their views and opinions on it. The most famous statement in the movie was when people said, “Ariel is not black!”

Other people have said on Twitter: “Not my Ariel,” “Nobody who is really a fan is going to watch this garbage anyway,” etc.

However, Kayla backs up Halle Bailey from all the negative online comments, “I didn’t really expect an uproar about Halle Bailey playing Ariel. I think she did a great job.”

TB and Jade also share that they weren’t entirely aware of an uproar about Halle Bailey being Ariel. They both thought “it was ridiculous” and “Bailey auditioned for the part, and the producers and whoever else in charge of picking who got the role picked her.”

In all these new movies that Disney has announced, the new trailer for a live-action Peter Pan and Wendy has been released, and Yara Shahidi is cast as Tinker Bell! Yara Shahidi was in the popular sitcom black-ish and is now in the spin-off show Grown-ish. After numerous people saw this trailer, many thought Disney was “too woke” and “shoving it in our faces.”

Yet, many others say they’re getting the representation needed in the previous movies.

TB explains, “I feel that this brings some representation for the African American community, but not in the way it should. For representation to be met, make movies that represent the community that needs more representation. Create a storyline based on the African American, Hispanic, Asian, etc. community. Instead of making a traditionally white character a character of another race.”

Jade claims, “Yes! Disney movies need diverse casts! Being a prince or princess shouldn’t be designated to one race. And I am happy Disney is finally catching on to that. Growing up a different race from all of what you see on TV can definitely impact someone subconsciously.”

“I think this is a good way for more representation. Like 85% of Disney movies feature mostly white people. I don’t really see a problem with changing Ariel’s race. I think it adds another layer of depth to the story.” Kayla says.

Other than the casting of particular actors for characters that don’t meet the public eye and some thinking the magic they experienced when they were younger is being poorly executed in the newer versions, people are also complaining about the usage of CGI in films. Audience members can spot poorly executed CGI in movies that are not just remade and feel pulled out of the immersion of the film they are watching. Kayla backs up this public opinion with her thoughts on this subject.

“The use of CGI is pretty terrible. For example, the CGI in The Little Mermaid is the worst I’ve ever seen. Disney has an ungodly amount of money, and they couldn’t pay for decent CGI effects? I mean, the amount really depends on the movie. The Little Mermaid takes place mostly underwater, so it’s pretty dependent on CGI. For movies that depend on more CGI, they should at least have decent effects. It seems like they’re rushing the process.”

Among Kayla’s claims, TB shares roughly the same thoughts about CGI. “I am fine with the usage of CGI, if it is good. A lot of movies use CGI that are well done, while other movies that use it does not look well done. By making the CGI look authentic to the original thing, then use it. I believe that they’re using CGI just the right amount. For some remakes, it will be hard to go without CGI, especially for live-action remakes that involve animals, for example, The Lion King or The Jungle Book.”

Moving aside from Disney for a little while, there has been an announcement from Universal Studios that there will be a live-action remake of the famous trilogy How to Train Your Dragon. The DreamWorks Oscar-nominated trilogy was made in the 2010s by Dean DeBlois, who wrote and directed the movies. He is also the person who is going to take complete charge of the live-action film set to release on March 14th, 2025.

This information had been shared among the three students, and they went ballistic.

“I had no idea about the How to Train Your Dragon remake. I’m excited now that there is going to be one. I feel that if this movie is getting a remake, then it just shows that it has touched a lot of people’s lives, and now I and others can relive seeing the movie for the first time.” TB rejoiced.

“Like I said earlier, the resurfacing of these movies makes me feel like a kid again. Plus, I feel like this will create a closeness between two different generations and help close that gap a little.” Jade said.

“I mean, don’t get me wrong, I will absolutely be watching How to Train Your Dragon when it comes out, but I don’t think we need a live-action movie that’s going to be exactly the same as the original,” Kayla claimed.

After the conversations with the three students and hearing others’ opinions on the remake era, it is evident that people’s thoughts are on different scale points. For example, some think the film industry needs to spend more time creating various new movies and save time on recreating old films. While new announcements of remakes of old movies are on the way, we can only see the different reactions from both aspects: from those who think Disney is being woke to those who believe the representation is alive and well.

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