Remember Meet the Deedles? Snow Dogs? Max Keeble’s Big Movie? Me neither, because I never saw them. These are all products of the debacle that was Disney live-action films of the early 2000s.
It seemed the company was just churning out whatever cheap film they could make to get the attention of persistent 8-year-olds to drag their parents to the latest family comedy.
The Disney studio had become what Walt Disney himself never intended: cheap entertainment that pandered to the lowest denominator of audiences.
(No offense if you happen to like any of those movies; I confess I’m quite partial to Heavyweights.)
But those days are long behind us.
Just like Disney’s animation division, their live-action films are giving the rest of Hollywood a run for their money, especially in the realm of their sub-genre – live-action remakes of old Disney animated classics.
It started with the odd, yet bewildering Alice in Wonderland in 2010. That was improved on with 2014’s Maleficent, a bit formulated, but more impressive than most people expected. Last year’s Cinderella confirmed that Disney has hit upon something great with this remake franchise by delighting us all. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.
And now the studio’s newest release, The Jungle Book, is taking the box office by storm. And well it should! I saw it the other day and was seriously blown away. It was like watching Peter Jackson’s King Kong all over again, only, dare I say it? I bit more dazzling.
Sure, it follows Disney’s original ’67 animated version, but the detours are delightful! It was hard to believe that these animals are completely CGI (be warned parents of young ones: this is not Babe – far, far from it). Nothing at all looks fake in this movie. As impressive as it was to look at, I’d say the most wonderful thing about it is that there’s literally not a single dull moment. I never checked my watch, I never even bothered to scratch the itch on my ankle for fear of missing something.
And you will never see Shere Kahn the same way again. This new version of him just may be the most fearsome villain in the whole Disney pantheon.
And the franchise, it looks like, has just begun. Disney has confirmed that they will be remaking many of our childhood favorites (Dumbo, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Pinocchio, etc.). And if they keep on doing whatever it is they’re doing right, I say bring it!
Have you seen The Jungle Book? Share your thoughts.