From Mav: Hannah has been suggesting that we do a show on Live Action Remakes… particularly the recent string of Disney ones, but I guess not technically limited to it. She’s also been very busy of late and hasn’t had time to do a call for comments, and I keep saying we should get back into posting more of these for the blog, so I thought I’d give this one a shot and at least pose some questions for people to be thinking about. I haven’t seen the new Little Mermaid yet, but I want to and I have some overall thoughts on the concept of Live Action Reboots as a whole. But I haven’t thought about this too much yet, so I’m going to kind of search around here and mention some of the notes Hannah had shared with me and then see if any of you… YES YOU! Have thoughts you’d like to share. Maybe we can even have you on the show.
So, for starters I’ll say that Hannah gave me three key questions we should be thinking about:
- Are audiences getting Disney remake fatigue?
- Disney obviously makes these films “because money” but is there any redeeming artistic value?
- Is there is something worth watching in these films, what makes a “good” one?
I think the answer to Hannah’s first question is somewhat misleading. I think it’s really easy to say that “people” are getting fatigued on any popular media if you’re plugged into our world. It sort of depends on how you define “people”. Sure, “some people” are. But much like the idea of superhero fatigue… it’s easy to point to the opinions of movie nerds and ignore the simple finances. Right now, Little Mermaid is making TONS of money. So even if “some people” are fatigued, plenty of people do enjoy these movies and so the “because money” part seems to answer the first question as no.
But, I think the second question is harder. First, I think there’s some important artistic/cultural value in “things that people just like watching”. But even beyond that I think the second question is really what keys into the first, and this is because of the third. If these films are pumped out with little thought ONLY to make money, they become monotonous… but also, they can be GOOD… they can be made with care by talented people. Adaptation theory says there are multiple ways you make an adaptation. You can try to recreate something as faithfully as possible, you can move from medium A to medium B and update to take advantage of the changes in medium. Or you can create something new that mostly only uses the original as inspiration. I think things like interesting twists on the story — say what was done with Maleficent — can draw me in as a viewer in a way that the Lion King remake can’t.
On the other hand, I’m not the target audience, and that’s ok. The thing I said about adaptations doesn’t just hold for Disney remakes. There’s a reason I’d rather see the MCU’s reimagining of Infinity War rather than something like Zach Snyder’s attempt to do a panel perfect Watchmen. But there’s a reason that people love the film Snyder made. I similarly love Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of Romeo + Juliet more than almost any other interpretation. I’ve seen all four versions of A Star Is Born and I think they all do something different and interesting in their own ways. The same with remakes To return to Disney, I’m in the Little Mermaid in as much as I care about the story (I love the original film) but if we’re going to see a remake I want to see it updated and say something new. Making her black can be the start of that, but I actually would be more interested if they went hard on making it a race narrative rather than if it’s just incidental. After all, there’s a reason I like Bridgerton so much!
So, anyway, yeah I think there’s stuff to talk about. And we need people to talk with. So give us your thoughts.