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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

What does the future of Disney hold?

Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company
A sneak peak of Disney’s “Snow White” live-action remake containing Rachel Zegler and the seven dwarves. This gives a first look at what we can expect from the CGI within this movie.

It’s no secret that Disney loves a good live-action remake of a decades-old film, and while this does bring the stories to new audiences, it’s not always as magical as it seems. 

Even though Disney began remaking its classic animated films as early as the late 1990s with “101 Dalmatians,” it was in the 2010s that we really started to see a consistent effort to bring new life to the fan favorites. 

In 2019 alone there were four remakes of beloved cartoons released, being “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “Dumbo” and “Lady and the Tramp.”  

As a 2000s kid, my mom showed me Disney movies on VCR all the time, so I can’t help but feel nostalgic watching some of the originals today. I even traveled to Disney World with Guilford College back in 2021, so I guess you could say my fan-status is cemented at this point. 

However, as a fan I think it’s reasonable to be critical of their increasingly apparent need to remake all the films. 

I would ask you if you want the good or the bad news first, but you don’t really get a choice. Here are some of Disney’s recent live-action remake efforts that I felt missed the mark. 

“Pinocchio” – One of Disney’s earliest films dating back to 1940, “Pinocchio” follows a puppet whose creator wishes he were a real boy, which comes true. 

What seems like an innocent and cute story can quickly become dark, especially in the 2022 adaptation. This is part of the reason I felt like it was not necessary. 

Gepetto, Pinocchio’s father/creator, implies in the film that he once had a son and lost him, explaining his need for a puppet son. The whole film feels less inspired than the original, and at times bland or even too adult in theming. 

For example, Pinocchio travels to “Pleasure Island,” drinks root beer that is meant to symbolize alcoholic beer, then turns into a donkey. Yeah, I know, it’s pretty traumatizing for a family movie. 

“Peter Pan & Wendy” – This is one of Disney’s remakes that I felt was just too dull or lackluster compared to the original film. I think the goal was to add depth to the storyline, but the result was something relatively boring that doesn’t cater to children as much as it used to. Sure, the kids can still fly using pixie dust in 2023, but there’s less fun and whimsy in Neverland. It was hard for me to sit through this one, and it left me wondering why the chosen direction was taken. 

“Dumbo” – Directed by Tim Burton, I can’t think of a better word to describe 2019s version of “Dumbo” than weird. 

I remember thinking the 1941 classic, which has a 95% on popular critic website Rotten Tomatoes, was cute and told a good lesson. Dumbo the elephant’s large ears, which caused him to be made fun of, actually turned out to let him come out flying above the rest. 

The live-action remake has this creepy energy and the circus Dumbo is a part of has an odd utopian-looking appearance. It felt like Burton was given a little too much creative freedom with this one. 

Not all of Disney’s live-action remakes are bad, though. Some actually uplift the qualities of the original stories that audiences came to love. 

A great example of this is 2023’s  “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey was incredible for Ariel’s role, and her beauty on the inside and out really shined throughout as she sang and swam across the screen. I also loved the songs made for the movie, appropriate diversity of the cast and vibrant sea life. 

What about the future of these remakes? Well, following the recent Hollywood strikes, it looks like 2024 is a little empty on that front at the moment. 

Still, movies like “Moana” and “Snow White” are estimated to be coming in 2025, and they look questionable to say the least. For one, Moana just came out in 2016. Why do Disney and Dwayne Johnson, who voiced Maui in the original, feel the need to remake it so soon?

In regard to Snow White, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the casting of both Snow White herself and the seven dwarfs. 

Rachel Zegler is known for being opposed to the original character, claiming that White “won’t be saved by a prince” this time around. The controversy surrounding the seven dwarfs comes from Disney’s decision to actually cast people with dwarfism for their roles, then changing them to CGI. 

I truly hope that Disney makes some good decisions with their future live-action remake projects, because examples like “The Little Mermaid” show promise compared to failures like “Pinnochio.” 


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