The Mouse House dominated the headlines in the film industry Saturday as its D23 Expo event continued. Disney, which owns the rights to Pixar, LucasFilm and Marvel Studios unveiled several upcoming projects and showed off highlights from pictures soon to be released.
The release of a new “Lion King” adaptation has marked about 10 years into Disney’s adventure in remaking many of its animated pictures into live action versions. OK, technically, the new “Lion King” is a fully animated picture, but it’s more or less a de facto live action movie.
With nearly a decade to look back on, plus some others from years past, here is my ranking of the Disney live action and/or life-like remakes of animated classics.
All of my worries were confirmed.
Those who have watched the 1994 animated classic will find themselves in familiar territory here. James Earl Jones plays the role of Mufasa again in “The Lion King,” and as the title implies, is a lion who’s king of a large amount of land. Mufasa’s Pride Lands are thriving thanks to his leadership and he now has a son, Simba to inherit the kingdom.
Unfortunately, the monarchy is thrown into chaos by Mufasa’s plotting brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who wants to take the throne. This leaves Simba (JD McCary and later Donald Glover) in a period of exile.
I’ll admit, when I first heard a new “Toy Story” was in production, I was skeptical, considering “Toy Story 3” was such a solid end to the trilogy. Fortunately, Pixar did some solid work with this fourth feature.
The latest film picks up seemingly not too long after the end of part three. The original gang, for example, have adapted pretty well to life with Bonnie’s other toys. That is, except for Woody (Tom Hanks). Woody appears to be involved less and less in times of play, and as a result, is getting little anxious.
However, when Bonnie creates a new toy from some materials, mainly a spork, named Forky (Tony Hale), Woody finds some purpose. Forky appears to be confused, thinking himself more akin to trash than a toy, but Woody is set on protecting him and keeping him around, as Forky has become Bonnie’s favorite. The work gets more difficult, though, when during a family trip, Forky escapes in a small town near a carnival. Woody sets off on an adventure immediately to save Forky, and fortunately, he gets some help from the long lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts).
It’s true nobody can replace Robin Williams, but in all fairness, Will Smith probably provides this new “Aladdin” a lot of energy.
The movie is of course based on the 1992 animated feature with the same name. Like that film, “Aladdin” 2019 follows the titular character (Mena Massoud) living on the streets of the city state Agrabah. In his adventures to survive by pick-pocketing and running hustles, he meets a young woman who’s secretly Agrabah’s princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott).
The two form a connection, yet Aladdin of course has trouble getting to know her since her home is at the palace. As part of his desperation, Aladdin comes in contact with a power hungry Vizier, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari). Jafar offers Aladdin riches if he goes inside a cave of wonders and retrieves a lamp. Things don’t go exactly to plan, though, and Aladdin ends up with the lamp and meets a Genie (Will Smith) who can grant three wishes.
Aside from “The Jungle Book,” Disney’s effort to remake its classic animated library into live action pictures has been only average at best. “Dumbo” certainly doesn’t help that trend.
Like its animated counterpart, “Dumbo” features a performance elephant at a circus who has a newborn son. Breaking away from the original, though, is who discovers the situation. Early on the film introduces the audience to an animal caretaker named Holt (Colin Farrell) and his two children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins). They’re the ones who discover the new elephant at the circus, run by Max Medici (Danny DeVito). Upon seeing Dumbo for the first time, they of course notice his rather large ears. This seems like a problem at first, but the two kids are able to “unlock” a talent in the elephant: the ability to fly.
Similar to the animated picture, there’s an incident where Dumbo’s mother is taken away. However, because of his flying, Dumbo is able to find some success and a little hope is restored. Because of Dumbo’s success, a rich amusement park owner, V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), comes to make Max a partner and obtain his whole show, including Dumbo. An agreement is made, but it becomes apparent that Vandevere is a shady person.
After more than a year of negotiations, Disney completed its purchase of 21st Century Fox last week, an investment of $71 billion.
According to Variety, the purchase means Disney now owns Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Family and Fox Animation. Additionally, Disney now has control over Fox’s TV productions.
Over the course of a thrilling (?) 13-3 victory in the Super Bowl by the New England Patriots over the Los Angeles Rams, movie studios took time during the commercial breaks to push upcoming features. In between action on the field, previews for several films were broadcast over the airwaves.
What a disappointment.
After several decades, the character Mary Poppins has finally returned to the big screen. The new film with the iconic character takes place several years after the original, but follows some of the main characters. The Banks siblings, Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw), are now grown and Michael has children of their own.
However, times are tough again for the family, as Michael’s wife has passed away and bills are piling up. In fact, Michael’s financial troubles lead to the possibility of him losing the house. Because of all the difficulties, Poppins (Emily Blunt) arrives again to help get things back on track.
The streak, unfortunately, is over.
For roughly a decade, I gave movies made by Disney’s animation studio very high marks, usually a 4/5 or higher, and regularly included them in my top 10 lists at the end of the year. However, “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which certainly isn’t bad per se, has ended that consistency, as it’s simply mediocre.
More on that in a moment, but let’s look into what this sequel is all about. Unlike this summer’s “Incredibles 2,” which picked up immediately after the first, “Ralph breaks the Internet” is set in the present time and acknowledges the six years that have passed since the original picture, released in 2012.