Maleficent (2014). Cinderella (2015). BeautyandtheBeast (2017). Mulan (2018) and Aladdin (planned). The invasion of Disney film remakes has been continuing for a while, and there is no sign of stopping. Almost everyone who has been reared on the studio’s animated movies has seen live-action versions of their beloved tales; fanbases have been split in almost every remake Disney has had to offer. One can stay invested in discussions over Disney films only for so long, however. At times it feels better to just let it all go and enjoy the show—which just may be the best way to deal with all the remakes Disney is determined to feed to the fans.
One of the easiest ways to get a fan community buzzing is to bring up reboots. This is a subject the Disney animation fandom will not likely be freed from, considering the amount of live-action versions in existence and all the future remakes Disney has in store. The loudest opinions concerning these kinds of films is that it has either not stayed true to the original or that it is still mired in the same, usually ideological, problems.
Unfortunately, there are no easy ways out of these talks. Remakes that only update the visual aspects and leave the rest unchanged is rather pointless at best and is nothing but a means to rake in cash at worst. Remakes that change things more actively tread a thin line because of the emotional investment loyal fans have with various elements of the originals. Controversies will also continue as long as basic premises of controversial originals are usually left as they are; both versions of Disney’s Cinderella are criticized for having submissive and possibly escapist attitudes in the protagonist.
It is natural that Disney remakes would be under much scrutiny, as times and values have changed since the beloved animations were created. Critics unceasingly look over the entire film to see if old evils have been discarded in the reboots, and of course aspects that go against the values of today should be cut. At the end of the day, however, these films are remakes. Whatever novelty that may come with them are not revolutionary, and perhaps should not be, lest the fans of the original whose interest Disney is appealing to find themselves alienated with the new version. It should also be remembered that these are made primarily for public entertainment, and as such formulaic elements are bound to remain in any reboot.
Considering all this, perhaps the best way to approach these films as a viewer would be to focus on relatively marginal aspects. Almost all of the live-action remakes offer gorgeous visuals, and few of them have been criticized in that department; previously two-dimensional villains and side characters are given depth and sometimes even given the spotlight, as with Maleficent.
Although many eyes will be narrowed and suspicions will be raised of Disney trying to get richer quick, the reboot train is not about to stop anytime soon. Once viewers accept that creative endeavors cannot be separated from a need to generate revenue, it will be much easier to appreciate Disney reboots for what they are at heart—simple entertainment. People do not expect any philosophical revelations from Marvel superhero films, and there is no reason to expect such from Disney’s new creations, either. Viewers will better appreciate what is inevitably coming to the big screens if they simply let go of lofty expectations.