So Disney has been busy for the past couple of years. They’ve been creating a cinematic universe that everyone and their dog’s been trying to rip off, reviving/demolishing Star Wars, depending on who you ask, and developing their own stories beyond what many people thought they were capable of.
So why do they keep crawling back to the comfort zone that is their old properties? Well, the obvious answer to that is money. The other question is, why are they doing it so terribly?
The live-action remake has been a trend for Disney for a while now, but it was popularized back in 2010 with the live-action reimagining of Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. Thus starting one of two trends that the Disney remakes have followed up until this point: changing things for the worse.
Change, in it of itself, is fine. The problem comes from the fact that these changes don’t help at all. In Alice in Wonderland, the change turns the film into a war epic. But the world of Wonderland is not one meant for epic Lord of the Rings-style clashes. It’s a relatively small scale adventure about a young girl exploring a strange world. It doesn’t need epic sword fights that turn from something actually unique into a generic, bland fantasy romp.
However, as said before, changing too much is only one of the problems. The other problem is when the films don’t change enough. 2017’s Beauty and the Beast is a massive example of this, as there’s very little in that movie that isn’t in the original animated one, and done better in that version, despite the live-action film being almost 50 minutes longer. The time that could’ve been spent on the characters is instead delegated to an oscar bait for the best original song award, and a teleporting book that is almost never brought up again.
Again, despite these movies being longer and having a significantly higher budget than their animated counterparts, they lack something that those original movies had. Heart. There is no passion in these movies, it’s all just one big scheme to get more money. Which Disney doesn’t exactly need.
Even Marti Broomfield, a massive Disney fan who’s liked nearly everything they’ve done, does not like the live-action remakes, quoting them as “at this point, being incredibly overdone. Disney needs to make new things, rather than relying on the past so much.” And that’s really the perfect way to put it. Disney is banking on nostalgia hard with these live-action remakes, but it’s doing so in a way that doesn’t challenge or stimulate at all. It’s just saying “remember that thing you liked back in the day? This is that, but worse now!”
Disney, you don’t need these cash grab sellout pieces of garbage to make money, you’ve got enough of that. I think you can afford to take one or two risks on some new properties. You seem to be on the right track with the new movie, Raya and the Last Dragon. But you need to stay on that path, lest you end up circling the drain of mediocrity that so much media today lies in.