On Disney’s “Live Actions”
I’ve always held the belief that a film being “okay” is worse than a film being bad. Bad movies seem to encompass their own spheres, and it is in these realms that they voluntarily choose to remain. Bad movies are downright offensive, but I applaud them for making their audience feel something, feel anything. These bad movies took risks, the deviated from the status quo, it just happened that these deviations did not fall into the favor of critics or audiences, leaving them in two situations; panned both commercially and critically to a point of disappearance (Vince Vaughn’s frame by frame remake of Psycho) or drifting so far down the spectrum of good and bad that they fall off and emerge cemented in cult status and stardom á la The Room or Trolls 2. It’d be easy to say that movies that are considered good are polar opposites of films that are considered bad, but at least the two types of films followed a similar “mindset”, that is, attempting to create something that hadn’t been previously done. Every film released should be a progressive addition to the medium that attempts to expand its boundaries. New films should have a give and take relationship with cinema, as they attempt to encompass the lessons of films prior into their new productions, in turn keeping the genre alive for new creators to come. When filmmakers settle for what can only be deemed as a passable movie, however, cinema not only stagnates, it may possibly recede. With each Fast and Furious movie, each Avengers movie, each Transformers installment, cinema becomes saturated with monotony, all the while assuring financially driven benefactors that mediocrity will continue to be financially rewarded.
As of today, we are currently in the thicket of a slew of Disney “Live Action” remakes (Although calling them Live Action couldn’t be further from the truth of what they actually are), with the Beauty and the Beast remake having had passed and The Jungle Book remake beginning its descent into the deepest recessions of our memory while the new Lion King begins its march into theaters and into the box office. Featuring a hodgepodge of ticket selling cultural icons, one does not need a crystal ball to see the inevitable financial viability of the film; released to the sweet appraisal of millions and millions of dollars at the box office, later garnering unwarranted Oscar buzz, and ultimately being nominated for 3 oscars—best original song, best score, and best animation—winning maybe one, then winning a Grammy for its Beyoncé and Childish Gambino laced soundtrack, and then fizzling out to stand only as a testament of Disney’s unfaltering desire to wring out every cent from the projects that people once held as sentimental.
I’m not going to deny that cash-grabs aren’t a innate aspect of cinema, and I won’t say that I don’t understand why they must exist. But in the very least they could retain some hint of originality. Plenty of the films that take the top places on the list of highest grossing films of all time are wholly original. And although a plethora of the films are on that list are sequels, the concept of a sequel at least implies some hint of originality. With Disney’s “live action” films, they are simply resins of an older movie. Every choice in its production was made for the sake of profit, not for cinema. I take issue with these movies not just because they don’t add anything to cinema, but also because they detract from it. A myriad of wonderful animated films have come out and received dismal reactions. One of the most brilliant mind’s working today, Charlie Kaufman’s critically acclaimed stop motion film Anomalisa didn’t even break even in the box office. The success of Disney’s stale remakes are a voluntary decision to squash genuine cinema for merely a hint of nostalgia. The Lion King in it of itself isn’t even an original story. But will The Lion King remake be a bad movie? Definitely not. Disney knows that there is a certain quota that must reach in order to make money, and they will strive to meet this terribly low bar, and go no further. As the computer generated images take the jobs of creative talented minds, we, the audience, will be suspended in a cycle of reiteration after reiteration, confined to an infinite jest.