Live Action Movies are Destroying our Childhood

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Live Action Movies are Destroying our Childhood

"The Lion King" (Walt Disney Studios) Image provided by IMDb

"The Lion King" (Walt Disney Studios) Image provided by IMDb

"The Lion King" (Walt Disney Studios) Image provided by IMDb

Allison Alben, Editor in Chief

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   The saga of live action movies all began in 2010 with “Alice in Wonderland.” Good or bad, it was one of Disney’s first tentative steps to remaking our entire childhood. Next came “Maleficent,” boasting a new story and an entirely different plot that painted a timeless villain in a new light, so we accepted it with open arms. 


   The audiences’ positive reactions opened the floodgates and gave Disney the green light to begin steamrolling all of our favorite animated characters in favor of their live-action counterparts, including Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, and more recently, Simba.


     One can appreciate the idea of remaking a movie so the newer generations can experience the same awe and wonder as we did when the film first graced our screens. But unfortunately,  these new movies are missing a few key components that their predecessors are not.


     For one, they lack the element of surprise and originality in regards to the story line. Of course, there may be a few twists and turns along the way, if the director does it right, but the movie still won’t be as powerful as an entirely new story might be. For most audiences, the first time seeing a movie resonates with them, especially the surprises. Rewatch or remake the movie, and that all goes away.


     Additionally, these new remakes rely heavily on their star-studded casts. Beyoncé, no matter how well she played her role in “The Lion King,” was the reason that some went to see the movie. 


   It’s not that names aren’t important, or that these A-list actors and singers and performers are wrong for the role, it’s just that the movies are not about the actors in the first place. They may bring the characters to life, but the movie is about the story, the journey that you go on in the two hours you sit in the theater. Hearing Beyoncé was not only jarring but distracting, even if you know the story.


      But no matter what direction the movie goes in, whether it’s identical to the original or a new plot entirely, one thing remains the same: The entire purpose of the remake is for nostalgia’s sake. This becomes obvious the more that these remakes come out and fail to live up to the original. Some fans seem surprised, others are let down, and there are some, like myself, who aren’t surprised at all. 


   As of 2019, there have already been three live-action remakes: the nightmarish “Dumbo,” which centers more around humans and not the title character; “Aladdin,” whose Genie can never be a replacement and whose story was weak at best; and “The Lion King,” which is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the original film with lions that showed next to no emotion. 


   CGI is difficult, of course, but they’re the multi-billion dollar Disney. A little pixie dust and a couple more million could have made the lions just a touch more expressive. “The Lion King,”  one of the more highly anticipated Disney remakes, was disappointing at best, a terrible waste of time at worst.


   Already, there are several more remakes planned. This year, there will be a “Lady and the Tramp” remake on Disney’s new streaming website and the sequel to “Maleficent.” In the years to come, there are already ten more movies that will be made. When will it end?


   Even if the goal is to remake the movie for a new generation, there’s something maddening about it all. Why was the old one not good enough? Why is my movie not worthy enough to be watched by new generations? The phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. Nothing was broken, Disney. But apparently, a few billion from the box office could “fix” things.


     Honestly, there are some movies that you should just never touch. Those movies include ones with actors you could never replace, or films that are so iconic that to see anyone else on screen playing the role would be madness. Imagine a “Star Wars” without Mark Hamill as Luke, or a “Harry Potter” without Daniel Radcliffe as Harry — actors and characters that truly make the movie. 


   “The Lion King” should have been one of them. Perhaps “Aladdin,” too, for the sake of Robin Williams, but “The Lion King” should have been irreplaceable. It is best summarized by NPR’s Justin Chang: “Some of these remakes have been more inspired than others, but few have felt quite as futile as ‘The Lion King.’ This isn’t the circle of life; it’s more like a creative dead end.”


     Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like these remakes will stop coming any time soon. While some of us beg for new material — something, anything — those who follow Disney no matter what make the company billions and cement us in this unoriginal, predictable nightmare. 


   It’s not the live-action that’s the problem, nor has it ever been. It’s our childhood that’s getting lost and forgotten in favor of CGI and the latest Hollywood star, leaving us struggling, grasping for the remnants of a dream and a memory that can be no more.