Disney recently released a teaser trailer for the live action remake of the animated film, The Little Mermaid. It looks wonderful, which cannot be said for the recent live action remake of Pinocchio. That was a lifeless attempt at bringing the wooden boy to life that still felt animated every step of the way. They have an oversaturation of “live action remakes” which have been hit or miss with more to come. Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies gives us his reviews.
FIRST LOOK: THE LITTLE MERMAID (2023)
-Starring: Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs
-Release Date: May 2023
-Featuring fan-favorite songs plus four new songs penned by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
-Disney has been very coy at showing too much footage of the movie. The teaser trailer is very much a teaser and only shows Halle Bailey briefly as Ariel singing a few lines of “Part of Your World”
-Director Rob Marshall has directed many movies like Chicago, Into the Woods, and Mary Poppins Returns. He should have a good eye to bring the Disney magic to life.
-Pop star Halle Bailey look stunning as Ariel. She has a youthful, joyous energy about her which will be perfect for Ariel and she’ll put her on spin on your favorite songs like “Part of Your World”
Paul’s Top 3 Disney Live Action Remakes
Throughout her childhood, Ella lived a playful carefree life with a mom and dad that loved her immensely. She loved playing with the animals and making the most out of each day despite leading a fairly normal and simple life. Ella promised to her mother that she will “have courage and be kind.” Her father later remarries to the beautiful and luxurious Lady Tremaine. Ella’s new stepmother also has two daughters, Anastasia and Drisella, who are also a part of Ella’s new family. Tragedy strikes Ella, once again, when her father dies while out travelling. With both of her parents deceased, she is forced to live with her wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters. While out in the town square, Ella hears that Prince Kit will be hosting a ball looking for his future princess. She returns home excited to attend the grand affair and is laughed at by the other ladies. She is forced to stay home while Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drisella dress to the nines and head to the castle. With the help of her Fairy Godmother, Ella is granted her wish to attend the ball. As you know from the classic tale, she has until midnight before the magic wears off.
-Starring: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Haley Atwell
-Director Kenneth Branagh has stayed true to the story we all know and love and tell it in the most honest and loving way. Everything about this film is grand, epic, and gorgeous. Sure, some of the sets are probably enhanced by CGI and the magical transformation is obviously done by special effects, but the film doesn’t feel saturated in it like some movies do.
-The production design and stunning costumes by Sandy Powell elevate the film to a prestigious and breathtaking level. Every aspect seemed real and tangible. You wanted to walk around the castle, run down those steps, and see those dresses up close.
– Lily James has a sweet, innocent, and effervescent quality to her that makes you root for her even more so than in previous versions of this story. She has infectious chemistry with Richard Madden who plays Prince Charming. He definitely lives up to his name.
-This has all of the Disney magic without feeling overly manufactured or overly CGIed.
PETE’S DRAGON (2016)
They say that a man’s best friend is his dog. For Pete, it’s his dragon, Elliot. When he was just a little boy, he was the lone survivor of a fatal car crash that claimed the lives of his parents. The big green dragon appeared at just the right time when Pete was walking away from the crash frightened, scared, and not sure of where he was. The dragon scooped Pete up in his big furry paws and took him deep in the woods. Back in the small village of Milhaven, Robert Redford’s Mr. Meacham works as a wood carver and tells the story of the time he met this dragon, which happens to be an urban legend in the town. His daughter Grace works as a park ranger and doesn’t believe the tall tale as she has never once spotted Elliot in all her years of roaming around the forest. Her husband, Jack works as a lumberjack working to tear down the trees where Pete and Elliot live. As Grace and her family work to learn more about where Pete came from, the mystery surrounding the dragon comes to light and has everyone out looking for him, while he leaves the woods hoping to be reunited with Pete.
-Starring: Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Oakes Fegley
-Much like the original in 1977, this is a mix of live action and CGI but told with more of a realistic tone than the fantasy musical genre the original film had.
– One of the earliest thoughts that occurred to me was that Pete’s Dragon felt more stripped down and pure than what it may have been in the hands of other directors. I mean that as a good thing as director David Lowery remembers that sometimes less in more. It never felt bogged down in special effects and lofty CGI usage instead of getting to the heart of the story.
-Lowery never loses sight that at the heart of this movie is the friendship between Pete and Elliot. It’s evident from the very first scene as the young version of Pete is filled with such wonder and awe at the sight of the dragon.
-The animation given to Elliot makes him playful and huggable that instantly creates that bond between them that only grows as the movie progresses. Any child in the audience that has a pet will hopefully connect to the relationship between Pete and Elliot.
-Pete’s Dragon is full of that good old-fashioned Disney magic that warms the heart. It made me think of those old Disney adventure films I grew up on.
THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016)
After the death of his father, Mowgli, a little man-cub is raised by a pack of wolves after being rescued by a panther named Bagheera. When the weather dries up, the animals of the jungle all gather at Peace Rock in harmony to share the limited water available to them. He’s the only man-cub out there and finds himself the target of the evil tiger Shere Khan who wants to kill Mowgli for his own personal vindictive reasons. Now that the wolf den is no longer safe, Bagheera leads Mowgli on a quest through the jungle to reach the man village and find safety. He comes across other animals along the way that may or may not have his best interests at heart.
-Starring Neel Sethi and features of the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling
-When this came out in 2016, the special effects felt exciting, fresh, and shockingly realistic at bringing the animals to life. They didn’t use live animals nor did they do the Andy Serkis-motion capture technique. It’s all done with CGI with the actors lending their voices to the characters.
– It might be too scary for very young kids who have a hard time differentiating between fantasy/make believe and reality when the animals look this realistic and are threatening a young boy.
– The casting is spot on across the board. Bill Murray’s entrance as the lovable bear Baloo is a needed sigh of comic relief. He is quintessential Murray, which will make the parents laugh harder than the kids.
– The film doesn’t have all of the music from the cartoon, but some of the hit songs are back like Murray singing “The Bear Necessities.”