Recently there has been an interesting trend of remaking classic animated movies or animated movies in general into a live action movie. There are clear examples of “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and other Disney movies. However, there have also been remakes like “Ghost in the Shell” or Netflix’s “Death Note” that are based on Japanese animated shows, all with varying levels of success.
Even though some of the remake films may be commercial successes, mostly just Disney remakes, in my opinion, all these live action remakes are creative failures. The issue is that a remake film can’t just copy the source otherwise it will bore fans, has to copy as much as it can of the original to draw in fans of the original series or animated film through nostalgia or just plain fandom.
However, that is the issue with live action remakes. They try to stick as close to the original animated films as possible. This leaves them in a position where they will never be as good as the original film or source.
Remake films will always struggle to be good because it is extremely hard to capture the same exaggerated fantasy in those animated films or video games. Animated films have the freedom to create whatever it wants to visually capture a viewer.
I don’t think live action movies are bad though, because the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe is live action: is “The Dark Night” and the more recent “Alita Battle Angel,” which draws from fantastic animated shows and comics.
However, the big difference is that these films are adaptations. They are inspired by previous films or sources, but they all try to tell their own new story. Good original writing and creative camera work are what lets a movie have a chance to be good on its own. This is what allows a live action film to compete with the visual freedom that animated films have. It’s important to note that CGI animation is closing the creative gap between pure animated films and live action films.
That’s why I am interested to see what Disney decides to do with their next live action remakes of “Mulan” and “The Little Mermaid.” It seems they are thinking of changing the format and adding new creative twists in these films.
I am excited to see if there will be a new take on these classic films or if it will be another hollow copy of a fantastic animated film.