Disney’s newest Live-Action remake, Cruella, has finally his Disney+ and theaters. Even though it is more in the vein of Maleficent, as it tells the story of the villain from the 101 Dalmatian’s films, this is still a remake nonetheless. There have been 14 Disney live-action remakes since 2010, and this newest one got me thinking of which of Disney’s live-action outings was really the best. Here is my list for which Disney remakes I think have been the best over the years!
2019’s Aladdin was a real shock for me, and likely everyone else. Guy Ritchie, who is known most for action movies, directed this film and released two months before another Disney Remake The Lion King. All of the hype was on The Lion King for so long and rightfully so. The cast was loaded with Donald Glover and Beyonce leading the way, and Jon Favreau directed it after already proving himself on another Disney Remake. However, Aladdin flew under the radar for the most part as people seemingly shrugged it off. Mena Massoud was an incredible Aladdin, Naomi Scott was a perfect Jasmine, and even if Will Smith didn’t quite match Robin William’s Genie, he still brought a fun and exciting spin on the character.
4. Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast might have been one of the hardest Disney Remakes to successfully pull off. With how many CGI characters there are vs real characters there were, and the fact that the original did something that no other Animated film has done, and that is get a Best Picture nom in a field of 5, is remarkable. There were so many opportunities for this to go wrong, but it never did. Emma Watson was just magnificent as Belle showing off her vocal range and skilled acting, the voice roles were all perfectly captured, Luke Evans was a brilliant Gaston, but Dan Stevens stole the show. Especially during his incredible climax song ‘Evermore’ (which was absolutely robbed of an Oscar nomination). This film is still a joy to go back and watch, and fits hand in hand with the original.
Disney’s most recent remake is one that took me by surprise more than any of the other ones. The Emma’s were fantastic, the soundtrack was fantastic, and the risks this movie took really paid off. I would write more, but check out my review for more of my thoughts on this film!
I understand Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland came out before this film, but I really think this Cinderella remake was the spark that Disney needed to keep making these live-action remakes. Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella was arguably the first good remake Disney had done, and was the first of the remakes to be not just loved by fans, but by critics as well boasting an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. This also was the star vehicle for a pitch perfect Lily James who played Cinderella as well as anyone could. We also got Richard Madden as the, charming, Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett as the ruthless Stepmother, and Helena Bonham Carter as the wickedly entertaining Fairy Godmother. This movie just is a true blast and still holds as one of the best Disney Remakes.
1. The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book was a revelation in my opinion. I not only enjoyed the hell out of this remake, I truly thought it was a good movie on its own, maybe even better than the original. The cast was as perfect as it could be (in particular Bill Murray’s Baloo), and the visual effects were beautifully intertwined with the real world we were given. This didn’t look as CGI’d as Favreau’s The Lion King looked, and it was all the better for it. This is also far and away the best any Disney Remake has done critically with a 94% Rotten Tomatoes score and a 77 Metacritic. This is a movie I love going back to and watching, and I think this is that staple of how one of the Disney Remakes should be done.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.