Where Did the Creativity Go?

The official live-action animation (Left) compared to a fan-made edit (right) of what the “Lion King Live Action” movie was “supposed” to look like.

The official live-action animation (Left) compared to a fan-made edit (right) of what the “Lion King Live Action” movie was “supposed” to look like.

Recently there have only been reboots of movies or live-action versions of classics, why is that? Are major movie studios out of ideas, trying to make fast cash or are they just plain old lazy? 

Disney has been continuing to remake some of its movies from the late 80s to the early 2000s, which is known as the Disney Renaissance. Movies produced during this time were the peak of Disney production and are remembered for their unprecedented success at the box office. “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Mulan” are some fantastic examples of movies from this time period. They are also fantastic examples of the extreme shortcomings of Disney’s live-action remakes. The SGI lions in the “Lion King,” while hyper-realistic, really missed the mark in the film. It felt more like you were watching a nature documentary, which clashed with the overall musical theme of the production. There were also a few rigging problems with the Lion Model’s and they reportedly seem to “slide” across landscapes rather than walk. One of the things that made the original “Lion King” so successful was how well it was able to suspend the imagination. One musical number in particular that lacked luster was “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”. The original animation featured bright and unnatural colors, fantastical displays with animals stacked on top of each other, and other unrealistic feats you would never see in the wild. This part of the movie is so memorable due to the grandeur of the scene. In the live-action, the studios weren’t able to make displays similar to the original in order to sustain realism. The result was a mediocre rendition of the original that left audience members unimpressed. 

Towards the left, we have the original ending scene of the musical number. It is a giant stack of animals on top of each other. On the right is the live-action version of this scene. Instead of the huge ending display, we see Nala and Simba running with some meerkats around a rock, which is hugely disappointing in comparison to the original.

The live-action remake of Mulan caused a large amount of uproar in the movie viewing community. Producers of the live-action film opted to get rid of many characters and elements from the original. They removed the main love interest General Li Shang (who is now a huge icon in the bisexual community), the lovable dragon sidekick Mushu, and if not the most famous song of the entire movie “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” They also added new villains, which were mediocre at best and a phoenix which doesn’t really do much but look pretty. These revisions were made in an attempt to make the live-action “more culturally accurate” however they managed to do just the opposite. In the film, they repurpose an element of Chinese culture known as Qi, which translates as “breath” or “air”. Philosophers describe it as a type of energy or living metabolism in all beings – though not a special, individual power. In the film, Qi gives Mulan superhuman physical powers which are in stark contrast to the original film where the teenager trains and works hard to obtain her new skills. Qi is not said to bestow any magical powers on any individual. It is more of spiritual energy inside you rather than an untapped magic power. 

I conducted a survey asking students if they believe that Disney’s live-action remakes are a cash grab. A whopping 70% of students voted for yes, Disney is just milking money from these new productions. I further interviewed one of the students who voted yes. 

“I just don’t understand why they can’t make something new,” Junior Avery Haney says.“I feel like they are just being lazy.”

 There are so many books, comics and other works that are collecting dust waiting to be adapted into films. Instead of taking a risk, Disney is trying to make a fast buck. This company practically monopolizes the movie industry and has more than enough funds to go out on a limb to produce a new film.