With the arrival in theaters of the live action film de The little Mermaid, a remake of the 1989 Disney classic, many have wondered when the trend for remakes will end. We’ve seen dozens of these types of products in recent years in an attempt to bring it back franchising classics of our childhood and dust them off, giving them a more modern look that can make them attractive for the new generations.
Surely it is good to remember that, as always when it comes to cinema, before being art it is above all business. A thought that causes many film enthusiasts to turn their stomachs, but so be it: we have to accept it, and understand that everything created for the big screen has the specific intention of making as much money as possible. Does this mean that producers are seizing the opportunity to create quality feature films? Certainly not, or at least not always: this is unfortunately the case with some gods live action which in recent years have literally invaded cinemas and home screens, and which revisit films that have now entered history by trivializing them, adding useless elements and often enriching them with unnecessary good feelings. Despite this, it is natural to wonder if this could not be an opportunity to restore prestige to little jewels that a large part of the public does not know, or that still underestimates today, perhaps due to poor publicity when these films were released at the cinema or because they were limited only to a certain type of audience, such as for example The Corpse Bride of Tim Burton.
In this regard, how nice would it be to meet at the cinema and observe these little jewels in a new light, with the faces of real actors and the combination of visual and special effects only possible with today’s technologies? For these five films in particular, which deserve to be re-evaluated in the eyes of the general public, expectations would be decidedly high.
1) The Treasure Planet
History read, seen and reviewed that of Stevenson’s Treasure Island; this did not stop Disney from giving light, in 2002, to a classic story in new and extremely inspired guises, but which perhaps due to their particularity made the film one of its worst box office flops: we are talking about Treasure Planet, Of Ron Clements e John Musker. The classicism of the original story, which remains in minor elements such as the costumes of the characters, is here combined with a setting as alienating as it is convincing space with steampunk additions. But most of all, more than the aesthetics and the wonderful soundtrack, it is the relationship between the two protagonists, Jim Hawkins and John Silver, that makes this splendid animation jewel special. It is therefore impossible not to find yourself dreaming of a possible surrender with real actors, and in fact over the years the fans have indulged themselves in creating videos and social content on possible fan cast (i.e., imagining which actor could play a certain role), and not by chance. The film has been rediscovered over time, and is now considered a cult, a little gem that never got the attention it deserved and unjustly passed on the sly. Anthropomorphic cyborgs, pirate ships that cross the intergalactic sky, supernova explosions – and then he, the Planet of the title, which is reached through space battles which with today’s visual effects would be extremely convincing and bewitching on the big screen. We would be ready to enjoy the marvelous sequences of the young protagonist Jim who, riding his space surf, navigates among the nebulae and the stars, and to rejoice in the presence in the room of people who until yesterday almost ignored the existence of one of the best products Disney of his era. Furthermore, considering how much the film has been re-evaluated, I am sure that with a better advertising campaign than his father in traditional animation he would get a great success at the box office.
2) Atlantis – the lost empire
Staying in the Disney house, similar fate has had Atlantis – The Lost Empire, which upon its theatrical release in 2001 suffered from meager box office receipts despite the high production budget, perhaps because many eligible viewers linked the animated film to the much-loved anime The Mystery of the Blue Stone at the time of its release – which the feature film is inspired in the basics, to then take a completely different direction. Again, the film has been reevaluated over time – and fortunately I would add, considering the excellent characterization and the compelling storyline. The Adventure of Milo and the voyage of the company of the submarine Ulysses they could be easily reproduced with current technologies, and by already offering the story a cohesive set of characters in its diversity, there are all the bases to give ample scope to each background. Another element that I believe would amaze the public would be a realistic and tangible transposition of the world of Atlantis and its inhabitants: after all, we have seen what it is possible to create today with the aid of computer graphics with the splendid Pandora of Avatar, therefore I believe that a live action version of the lost world mentioned by Plato would be aesthetically stunning, with its colors and large environments. Fans have been clamoring for years to see the Atlantis film with a cast of real actors, and there have long been rumors of a realization of the project. So could an official announcement be close? We all sincerely hope so, with the certainty that also in this case the project would bring to light the splendor of the original and, why not, making the younger generations rediscover an adventure classic.
3) The 5 Legends
The production house Dreamowrks has given us real gems since its inception, first of all the majestic The Prince of Egypt. But I think one of his best products could really be perfect for a live action transposition, a film that creates a perfect marriage between fantasy and family adventure, and I’m talking about rise of the Guardians, a 2012 film based on William Joyce’s children’s books. Despite the disastrous collection at the box office, the film is a jewel of excellent animation and convincing characters, starting from the protagonist Jack Frostspirit of Winter that embodies an adorable boldness and an inner torment that acts as a Red string to the main plot. Considering the fairytale aesthetic of the original film, in this case the make-up element would be of fundamental importance in the creation of the main characters, such as in the case of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny – but, with an adequate budget and a convincing cast, the story has the right depth and the perfect appeal to be shot with real actors, also considering that it is a story full of action and rhythm. A live action it could also give the right space to the villain Pitchan extremely charismatic character who, if played by an actor of the caliber of Jude Law, his voice actor in the original language in the animated film, would create moments of extreme tension; the eternal struggle with Sandman, a figure that opposes him and Guardian of Dreams, could be represented by clashes that would be a feast for the eyes for adults and children. I imagine a perfect feature film to entertain the whole family, with thrilling action scenes and stunning scenery to restore luster to a story that has unjustly gone on the sly.
4) The Corpse Bride
We are talking here about a product born from the genius of Tim Burton: The Corpse Bride is a classic of gothic animation that contains all the styles that the director has made his own over the years and that made him so famous and loved. The wonderful and tragic story of Emily, betrayed by her fiancé and who thinks she will find love again in the gloomy Viktor, is so moving and romantic that it warms her heart; as opposed to more famous products such as The Nightmare Before Christmasmoreover, the history of The Corpse Bride offers itself particularly to a transposition with actors in the flesh. Which is ironic, if we think that many of the characters in the story have very little meat: the scenes set in the world of the dead are in fact many, but nothing that cannot be achieved with a good technical sector. A version with real actors would undeniably sacrifice the more comical side of the story, the one associated precisely with the world of the dead and which is in stark contrast to the universe of the living, in favor of a darker and more mature atmosphere. In the case of The Corpse Bride, I imagine an artfully packaged product for an adult audience, passionate about dark stories and, why not, even a little horror. After all, in recent years the cinema of this genre has given us real gems, with tales tinged with thrill, as in the case of the film The Mother. Moving stories, which hide poetry and drama behind fear and which make it easy for us to identify with ghosts and apparently cursed creatures. The Corpse Bride it lends itself very much to this kind of experimentation, and I look forward to the day when I can see Emily dancing under the moon in her worn wedding dress, hopeful that she has finally found the love she deserves.
5) Coraline and the magic door
The animation studio At a time brought to the cinema in 2009 a film apparently suitable for an audience of children but which, in fact, was particularly appreciated by more mature viewers also because of the disturbing images and the dark and mysterious plot. Coraline and the Magic Door (or more simply Coraline, as per the original title), based on the novel by Neil Geiman, offers ad Henry Selick the opportunity to bring to the screen a real animated horror in stop motion that certainly wouldn’t look out of place if shot again with real actors. Coraline’s story and her courage in facing an evil creature like the Other Mother is here a paraphrase of the little girl’s sense of loneliness, in a story that offers multiple levels of reading if she is willing to go beyond the surface. The dark element, predominant in the original film, would be balanced by a well-kept scenography for the interiors of the Pink House, especially in its alternate version of the other dimension. A perfect mix between the restlessness of the gothic style and Wes Anderson’s pastel palettes, aimed at confusing the viewer until dragging him into a bittersweet ending. As in the animated feature film, the strength of the live action rendering would be the contrast between the two parallel universes between which the stubborn protagonist is intent on getting by. However, I renew my belief that the target audience should definitely be older than the one for which the animated product was intended, but as we well know, animation for adults is now of a high level and the film would become a real jewel.