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DIGITAL DEBATE WEDNESDAYS: Disney and Live Action

Welcome back to Digital Debate Wednesdays! Every Wednesday, the staff of The Ace of Geeks will get our keyboards ready for a good, old fashioned nerd argument, and you get to hang out with us! Feel free to email us any ideas you might have for future debates, or let us know in the comments! Until then, here’s this weeks topic:

Let’s talk Disney and live action. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen some unconfirmed early stills from the live action Beauty and the Beast, and gotten the news that there will be a live action Mulan in 2018, and The Lion King sometime after that, likely with the same digital effects from the Jungle Book.

So the question this week is: What do you think about this recent Disney trend of remaking their animated classics as live action films? Good thing? Bad thing? Show your work.

Mae Linh Fatum: They need to just stop. the animated movies are good and what they should do is work on innovation in other movies like they did for animation.

Joe Hadsall: I think it’s a mistake to rely on the phrase “live-action.” These are remakes, and their worth should be judged on the need for them.

  • Mary Anne Butler: But DISNEY is calling them “Live Action.”

Rowan Hansen: It mostly just seems like cashing in on the popularity of an old classic. I mean, if they were telling the stories with some sort of twist to them, like they did with Maleficent, that would be one thing. Making a direct port, so to speak, even with a newly star-studded cast, seems more lazy than anything, even though they appear to be pouring money into spectacle more than almost anything else.

Malkontent Blizzard: I think they should be more picky about which ones they make.

Jungle Book was a marvel and needed to move away from the ink and paint in order to tell the story closer to the book.
I want to see Mulan for Shan Yu but that’s about it.

  • Rowan Hansen: I want to see Mulan for Mulan, personally. I have been waiting since childhood to watch that woman kick ass and take names.

Chris BrecheenI think I wrote something when I first came to AOG about how we as a species retell stories, and most of these are at LEAST twenty years old, so my knee jerk isn’t that it’s automatically lazy or money grubbing. But it sure feels like they’re avoiding taking chances to simply “retell” in live action instead of doing some kind of major re-imagining. It’s also a little weird to have the SAME studio turn around and tell the story again–usually the best versions of the same story are told from a very different perspective. (“Hey, have you ever wondered how hilarious and yet still moving Mulan could be if her being a woman was the worst kept secret in the whole Chinese army.”)

I’m pretty sure if they do a slammin’ job, we’re going to empty our wallets, but they’re not going to pack a theater so we can watch the same movie again with a slightly different textural rendering and unfamiliar voice acting.

Nick Bailey Jr: I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t have to see them if they don’t look interesting. I almost like what they did with Mileficent. Added more background and detail to a character. But then instead of marrying it with the original, they reconned completely.

Ellie Collins: I think it’s absolutely fantastic. Many stories are overlooked for being traditional animation. And not to mention the limitations that traditional animation brings. Taking things into like action gives a freedom to go, “Ok, that story you like? Here’s what it could really look like!”

It’s exciting to me as a filmmaker to see the real worlds created from beloved classics.

Tyler Dent Hayes: I am barely paying attention to the live-action remakes, and that may say more about my feelings on the matter than I even realize. I’m fine with retelling stories, I’m fine with using new media and newly emerged technologies to tell old stories in new ways, but just straight-up remaking their old canon doesn’t really interest me. If I hear they’re putting some kind of interesting spin on a story, or that they are doing something interesting with cinematography or CGI, I’ll sit up taller, but as it is I’m more focused on other things happening in theaters.

Raven Knighte: I would prefer that they use practical effects, make-up and costume effects instead of CG animation, if they are going to call it “live action.” Although I do like Disney’s retelling of their own classics, I agree with what was said earlier. Disney needs to find some originality somewhere.

Nick Bailey Jr: Pixar is their new content.

Katrina Smith: I don’t think they’ll replace the originals for me, and I wonder who they’re making them for. That being said, Disney is not in the business of taking risks– someone wants these.

Megan Fox: They’ve developed some pretty astounding special effects. Disney Studios has the capital to really revolutionize, create and play with what was once thought impossible. All of Jungle Book was created on a sound stage in downtown LA. Say what you will, but that is AMAZING. These films are fun to marvel at – do we NEED them? No. Are they a cash cow? Yes, but every studio rehashes old material, so why single out Disney? Petsonally, I am far more upset by the remakes of Jumanji and Labrinth (already in post). Studios gonna make what studios gonna make, especially when they can capitalize on nostalgia and material that’s already paid for.

  • Katrina Smith: Labyrinth isn’t a remake so much as another story in the same universe, from what I understand.

JC Brown: I feel like the whole thing is more like the Ian Malcolm quote from Jurassic Park – ” Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Just because they CAN make a live action reboot doesn’t mean they should. I found more entertainment in Snow White and the Huntsman being it’s own thing than I would have if Disney had just made a remake of their own (and I know Hunstman wasn’t made by DIsney.) I love Lion King, but wouldn’t watch a live action version. What really sets it apart from the animated original? I think the value of the live action remake is when you use technology to compliment the story – I’d much rather see a live action reboot with animatronics and minor CGI in a movie with real actors, say like Pocahontas, than all CGI like what Lion King may end up being. Plus, I’d love it to be different from the animated original. I’ll always have my VHS copies of Disney classics, and that’s great that a new generation can enjoy their own thing, but it would be great to make something new instead of an easy retread.

To be honest, I’m really just bitter that Disney made G-Force instead of making a Live Action Chip and Dale movie.

  • Malkontent Blizzard: When did they redo Gatchaman?
  • JC Brown: I wish – G-Force was a live action/CGI Hybrid that was basically Chip and Dale with Guinea Pigs instead – hence “G-Force.”

    …so now I guess that it’s doubly disappointing.

  • Malkontent Blizzard: *blinks*
  • JC Brown: The good news is that it came out in 2009 – so at least you’ve been spared this long!
  • Malkontent Blizzard: Thank goodness for small favors.

Korbl Klimecki: I kind of wonder who the audience is for these remakes- On the one hand, it seems like it might be motivated by putting their old classics back into theatres for a new generation, and remaking them gives them new hype that just releasing wouldn’t. But I think they also bank on the nostalgia factor for my generation. I’m not particularly interested in the Jungle Book remake, but then, to be honest, the old Jungle Book isn’t something I’d really watch these days either. But I’ve heard that the nostalgia factor is working for them.

I think it’d be more interesting if they were reimagining these movies in someway, but I can see the business decision to try to bank on nostalgia to get millennial parents to take their young kids to these movies.

Mike Fatum
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Referred to as a God Among Men, the Greatest Man that Ever Lived, and That Dude Over There…No, The Dude with the Long Hair and the Goatee…Yes, That Guy, Mike has grown up being known and loved around his apartment. In addition to being a successful film director and editor, he loves video games, movies, comic books, board games, and his wife and cat. He’s been friends with Jarys for over a decade now, and they started hosting a radio show together on college that became the genesis for the Ace of Geeks Podcast. When he realized he had so many talented friends who could write, the Podcast became an entertainment website, and here we are.

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