“The war on remakes is over. We lost. Now we just have to hope the studios pick the right movies to remake with the right people.” This has become my mantra over the last few years and I’ve repeated it ad nauseam to any friend or listener who complains about the remake phenomenon in general. In an ideal world, sure, we’d be treated to far more original concept big budget movies than perpetual reboots but we’re seriously talking about Donald Trump becoming our president so obviously this is far from an ideal world. When considering what qualifies for a good remake pick, I look for one of three characteristics:
1.) An original film that is not good but has an interesting concept;
2.) An original film that is good but has limited cultural cache;
3.) An original film that operates in a universe which lends itself to a bigger story and/or a new interpretation.
One of the bigger proponents of the remake/reboot industry is, of course, Disney. This makes sense because The Mouse has a ton of money to throw into these movies and a huge list of films to draw upon. 2016 has brought with it two very successful Disney live-action remakes (The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon) and a very unsuccessful sequel to a remake (Alice Through the Looking Glass) and it seems like not a week goes by without new or rumor of yet another live-action remake headed our way. With that in mind and following the “just pick the right movies” mantra and the above characteristics, here are five classic Disney features that are prime for the live-action remake treatment.
NOTE: I’m tossing out of consideration any movie that has already been remade or is actively being remade in some form or another. Examples: Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, etc.
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
I loved this movie as a kid and it holds up quite well, all things considered. Being stranded on a deserted island is of great interest to me because I am terrified of being involved in a shipwreck (honestly I’m terrified of basically anything that happens at sea or a lake or a river) but also I would make a very good hermit and thus, being stranded doesn’t sound all that bad. Add in some wild animals and a super dope tree house and I’m not sure what more you could want in a movie. But I like Swiss Family Robinson as a remake for two reasons: A.) It has virtually not current cultural relevance with younger generations and B.) There are a couple of different interpretations Disney could take with this just by choosing whether to set it in the early 1800’s, the modern day, or anywhere in between. SFR has been rumored for remake numerous times so it seems like a natural fit for this list.
The Black Cauldron (1985)
There have been a couple of dark periods for Disney animation and The Black Cauldron represents one of the darkest. A massive failure on virtually every level, Disney has spent most of the last 30 years pretending this movie never happened. I get it, I like to hide my failures, too (read “my music preferences from age 16 to 22”). But the thing about The Black Cauldron is it’s actually very good. Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s very interesting. It was ahead of its time before audiences were ready for something this dark in a cartoon. Truth be told, it’s still too dark as a cartoon as I wouldn’t let my kiddo watch it for fear of the nightmares he’d have afterward. But as a live-action feature in 2016, The Black Cauldron makes a lot of sense if Disney would show a willingness to revisit what has long been considered a dead asset.
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Show me a human from my generation who didn’t love Flight of the Navigator as a child and I’ll show you a liar. Flight of the Navigator perfectly encapsulates the spirit of youth-oriented movies of the 80’s but it could also very easily translate to the current generation. An updated version integrating new technology and better special effects would, I think, find a strong audience while also sending a bit of cultural relevance to the original.
I’m not actually advocating for this one so much as I am pointing out that it is ripe for the plucking. Bambi was never a particular favorite of mine, even as a kid; I found it boring while simultaneously horrifying given (SPOILER ALERT ON A 70 YEAR OLD MOVIE) the titular character’s mother dies on screen like three minutes into the movie. With that said, in light of the huge success of The Jungle Book and the assumed success of The Lion King in the near future, Bambi absolutely lends itself to the live-action treatment and, in fact, I’m a little surprised it hasn’t already been greenlit.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
I saved the best option for last. Something Wicked This Way Comes is TERRIFYING. In case you’ve never seen it, the plot goes something like this: “A traveling circus run by an actual demon passes through a small town and it only gets worse from there.” AND THEY SHOWED THIS STUFF IN SCHOOLS!!! I watched this movie in the library of my elementary school and everyone thought that was fine! I’m still scarred by this experience. Even still, has anyone under the age of 25 seen this movie (in a school library or otherwise)? Not many, is my guess. Scary movies are certainly not my jam but I think an updated PG-13 version of Something Wicked plays like gangbusters to a new crowd and if nothing else, I’m always on board for the proliferation of Ray Bradbury adaptations.