Walt Disney Studios recently released the trailer to the upcoming movie, The Lion King. The film is a remake of the 1994 classic, only this time, not animated. Rather, it is going to be live-action, relying heavily on CGI and special effects to operate. Now the idea of a single live action movie doesn’t mean much, but with 2016’s Jungle Book and also the upcoming Aladdin remake, it seems as if these films are becoming more and more abundant. So, it’s as good a time as any to look deeper into the topic.
In a time when filmmakers are trying everything to one-up each other, and film studios are green-lighting anything that rolls in the dough, live-action adaptations seem to stand out. The films are not low-effort by any means. Quite the contrary actually. It takes a lot of money and time for a live-action movie to complete shooting, which is often overlooked. So let’s talk pros. One of the greatest wins for the genre (live-action adaptations of classic animated movies aren’t technically their own genre, but for the sake of this article, let’s say it is) is that kids from this newer generation get to experience these movies in theatres the same way we did in our childhoods. Complaining about how kids never saw the “good” movies while growing up is now a toothless argument. The genre essentially retells these classics so that kids born in any decade gets to enjoy them.
From a filmmaking point of view, I honestly think these movies are pretty well made. I thought 2016 Jungle Book was an absolute ride to see in theatres, and Andy Serkis’ Netflix original Mowgli was a visual treat. Disney probably does a far better job on these films for one main reason- their target audience spans much larger. I will most definitely be going to watch the upcoming Lion King movie and maybe even make some time for Aladdin because that’s the thing- these films cater to a larger audience, and I’m sure I won’t be the only adult in the theatre. The nostalgia factor of these films ensures success almost regardless of the reviews.
That leads to my next point, the negatives. The biggest and most evident is market saturation. How many times have you walked into a film, only to realize that it was like every other film you’d ever seen and you could predict the plot from start to end? With such a large population of movie-goers, its ironic, the lack of originality in big-budget blockbusters. And live-action adaptations are just another tribute to this saturation.
Technicalities aside, I’m really excited for the new Lion King film. Jon Favreau is set to direct, and given his past experience with the genre, he can do no wrong! So, overall I don’t think it matters that these movies aren’t original, because these films are genuinely enjoyable, and draw heavily from the originals (in a good way). They might not be the most creative, but the methods that go into making these movies definitely are. At the end of the day, it’s all just the entertainment that matters, and these films definitely do just that.