Binge Watch: Disney Live-Action Remakes

Since 2010, Disney has released 17 live-action remakes of popular animated films. With more than a dozen more in the pipeline—including The Little Mermaid that comes out Friday—it’s clear it’s a trend that isn’t going away. Below, for this week’s Binge, are my five favorite live-action remakes. The films appear in release order.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)
This colorful film from Tim Burton, which featured Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, kick-started the modern wave. It featured solid performances and solid visuals, bringing the classic story to life in a fun, new way. I enjoyed this film, and the way Burton brought the story to life in a live-action fashion.

Cinderella (2015)
: Kenneth Branagh directed this adaptation, and it’s a beautifully shot and acted piece. Richard Madden and Lily James sparkle in the lead roles, while Cate Blanchett brings some energy as the evil stepmother. Like Alice, this wasn’t a musical adaptation. But it was an enjoyable and under-rated adaptation.

Beauty & The Beast (2017)
: Dan Stevens is the Beast and Emma Watson takes the lead as Belle. Unlike earlier live-action remakes, this one went all in on being a musical, even introducing an original musical number. It’s beautifully shot by Bill Condon, and I enjoyed the performances and style here. This might be my favorite of the adaptations on this list.

Aladdin (2019)
On paper Guy Ritchie wouldn’t seem the natural choice to helm a big live-action Disney musical. Still, Aladdin was one of my favorite animated films and I enjoyed the heck out of the live-action version. Will Smith is great as the Genie. I enjoyed the musical numbers and Ritchie gives the film some great visual style.

Mulan (2020)
: You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this film, which fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of a big theatrical roll out, it was released directly on to Disney+. That streaming release couldn’t dim the spectacle and scope of the visuals, nor could it mute the beautiful adaptation from director Niki Caro. I wish I’d gotten to see it on the big screen, and I hope people continue to find the film and appreciate its production.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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