The first footage from Disney’s live-action remake of MULAN has landed, and it’s got plenty of people excited. But there’s also a good number of people who are already tired of seeing Disney dredge through its catalogue of animated classics for films to remake.
Since Kenneth Branagh’s CINDERELLA in 2015, no animated classic has been safe – and 2019 has already been the busiest year of all. DUMBO and ALADDIN have both already been released to mixed reviews, and they’re soon to be joined by THE LION KING in just a couple of weeks time.
At first glance, it might seem that Disney are in danger of over-saturating the market with remakes. However, the numbers don’t support that idea.
ALADDIN didn’t impress the critics (or us!) all that much, but that didn’t put people off, taking an extremely healthy $921.7 million at the box office. And just two years ago, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST managed a monstrous $1.2 billion!
The simple fact is that it doesn’t matter if a few people get tired of seeing these remakes because Disney has a core audience who will happily line up to see their films no matter what. Playing on childhood nostalgia and the strength of their own brand, these remakes are always going to be sure-fire hits.
And that brand strength gives these films yet another advantage: Disney doesn’t need to worry so much about casting big-name actors who will help attract audiences. Look at ALADDIN as an example, where the only famous name in the project was Will Smith. Just being remakes is enough to bring audiences in.
Ian Kennedy and John Sullivan both give their opinions on the latest installments of Disney’s STAR WARS film in this THE LAST JEDI review… SPOILER WARNING – there are some mild spoilers for STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI ahead.
I really enjoyed this one, and as a writer and analyst there was plenty to make me smile about it. Like THE FORCE AWAKENS it shows the right amount of respect and reverence to the original series and characters while pushing the familiar premise and themes firmly into a new generation and new world. At times during the battles, key characters and their craft got an easy ride – often for long unexplained periods while it was clear that they ought to be taking a lot of fire (like the others around them). Other than that, a few gimmicky jokes (“I’ll hold”) and the ultimately pointless time at a casino – which wasn’t other-worldly enough for a STAR WARS movie, and unnecessary anyway – this one worked for me.
From an analyst’s point of view, here are some of the things that were great. Somehow, ALL of the characters we care about – and there are a LOT of them now – get the right amount of screen time and strong character arcs that complement the main story. (R2-D2 only really gets one moment, but c’mon, BB8 is better anyway; the ever-annoying C3PO gets interrupted every time, and even Yoda gets another chance to mentor Luke.) We see Luke Skywalker complete his character arc from farmboy to transcendent Obi-Wan Kenobi. The lightsaber fights and the new uses of the Force are fresh and eyecatching, as are some of the uses of other tropes we’ve seen before (lightspeed, for example). There are plenty of new quirky aliens and droid moments – I liked the nuns at the Jedi temple, for example. Just as the plot and premise of THE FORCE AWAKENS mirrored the original STAR WARS (EPISODE IV), this one mirrors THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in that it’s a long dark night of the soul for the Resistance, who are down to almost nothing by the end. This film finds new shades of grey to enrich its binary central conflict (the Resistance vs the Dark Side) – with new kinds of dilemma and battle for the hearts of the central characters, and reference to the arms dealer selling to both sides, for example. There are new kinds of heroism, self-sacrifice and resistance – contrasting the strategic rivalry between the wasteful hotshot methods of Poe, and the more subtle and clever methods employed by his superiors. All of this explores the series’ themes and conflicts further and better than before.
All in all, the movie ticks all the right boxes. Sure, not an Oscar-winner, but a great blockbuster sci-fi action adventure and a strong STAR WARS movie. And let’s be honest, those are more fun than most Oscar-winners.
Meanwhile, John says…
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away there used to be amazement and anticipation surrounding STAR WARS. But after watching THE LAST JEDI I’m only left with a remarkable feeling of being underwhelmed.
It’s hard to put into words how disappointed I am with THE LAST JEDI, but I’ll do it anyway. THE FORCE AWAKENS, while not magnificently original, felt like a STAR WARS film. The plot followed the same pattern as both A NEW HOPE and THE PHANTOM MENACE, stakes were high, the new characters were well-introduced and we spent a good amount of time with one character we loved.
THE LAST JEDI was just… a whole lotta nothing. For a 2-and-a-half-hour flick, there’s a lot going on, but nothing ever really happens. The film never really expands on what it’s logline is. The last of the Resistance forces try to escape the clutches of the First Order, while Kylo Ren and Rey come into conflict with themselves and each other. You’d imagine that’s a good set-up for a STAR WARS film, right? Wrong.
There is no expansion on the story, or the characters. Whole subplots, that are made out to be vitally important and integral to the storyline are made redundant with certain character and writing decisions. Characters that were made out to be hugely important were shoved aside meaninglessly. This film just did not have an end goal in sight. There were no major consequences in the film, or rather, none that were logically formed from the plot or character decisions. We are more or less in the same spot that we were in at the start of the film thematically and in terms of the greater story – nothing of any substance happened… at all.
THE LAST JEDI was just so… sigh… What was it Yoda used to say? “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Well, there was no trying with this film’s plot.
Who do you agree with? What did you think of THE LAST JEDI? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages!
Disney. Marvel. Superheroes. Every time I feel like I’m done with the genre, Marvel seems to release a film that draws me back in… well, a little bit. This year that film was not THOR: RAGNAROK, it was SPIDERMAN: HOMECOMING. But without Spidey’s refreshing re-introduction I wouldn’t have even thought about watching the third THOR installment.
Before the SPIDERMAN reboot, my interest in the MCU had fallen so low.
I have no strong feelings, one way or the other about these films. I didn’t care for CIVIL WAR, which I still haven’t watched, and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve missed anything from it. But there is no doubt that Marvel still produce some solid and entertaining films, even if they have no massive impact on my life.
THOR was a very nice mix of superhero, steampunk sci-fi, and comedy – a real good dose of comedy. I was impressed with how the film and director, Taika Waititi, balanced the odd blend of tone and genre. The comedy certainly had the New Zealand subtle, monotone style which Waititi employed brilliantly in one of his previous films, EAGLE VS SHARK. The comedy came naturally within the story and characters and hit all the right beats. Hell, this film might be the confirmation that Chris Hemsworth is more of a comic actor.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD… The story had a solid premise – with the death of Odin, Thor’s evil and power-hungry sister (Cate Blanchett, who is her usual brilliant self) was released from an other-worldly prison, and she was set on taking her throne back. The film takes Thor to unique and interesting places, but as with most superhero films, you don’t ever feel he’s in any danger.
THOR: RAGNAROK represents my biggest issue with the Marvel films, though. Yes, it’s solid, it’s funny, it has decent action, it keeps your attention but… it doesn’t do anything else. This is the type of movie you put on TV if there’s nothing else to watch – you don’t hate that you’re gonna watch it, but there’s better things out there. For me, that is every single Marvel film. There is no film in the entire roster, from IRON MAN to THOR: RAGNAROK where I would go “Oh man, I gotta watch this again!”
These Marvel films just don’t do anything spectacular – not really. They aim to grab and maintain the attention of most of its main demographic, and hey, they do that super well, but at some point, we (and by we, I mean me) need something a bit more different. There was some variety here, in HOMECOMING and even in ANT-MAN, but each of these felt like there were two hands on the wheel – the director and Marvel. As much as I could see Waititi’s style on THOR, or Edgar Wright’s on ANT-MAN, I could feel Marvel’s influence just as much.
THOR: RAGNAROK was a fine film, I enjoyed it, but that’s it. Each Marvel film is a solid 7 out of 10 now – they’ve got their formula and it works. But there’s no WOW factor. Sooner or later there needs to be some change, some variation in these films and the genre as a whole… otherwise, I might think about watching some DC films… OK maybe not, but you get my point!
What did you think of THOR: RAGNAROK? Was it another home run for Marvel, or just another superhero flick? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Our pick of the web for July 2017 – From the @WriteMovies Twitter Feed!
Our @WriteMovies Twitter feed has been sharing lots of exciting things giving our tips of the best new articles, insights and offers for screenwriters and producers on the web. And in case you’ve missed anything there, here is our pick for July 2017…
A BEAUTY AND THE BEAST review from Susan Wloszczyna at rogerebert.com. How does the live action remake compare to the beloved animation?
Top movie review website rogerebert.com has recently looked over the new BEAUTY AND THE BEAST remake… adaptation… whatever you want to call it. It’s an intellectual and intriguing review for a film that somehow managed to balance skepticism and enthusiasm before its release. (more…)
“The script adds important modern twists to a classic fairytale structure, with Anna being misled by the seemingly perfect Hans…. It is also unpredictable and refreshing that Anna is not brought back to life by true love’s kiss.…” Extracts from a script report by our trainee Daniela Piper-Vegh, based on a reading of the script FROZEN: CLICK HERE to read the script.
YOUNG PRINCESS ELSA and QUEEN ELSA (F/ approx. 21) Struggles to control her magical powers, and accidentally hurts her sister with them.
YOUNG ANNA and PRINCESS ANNA (F/ approx. 18) Elsa’s younger sister who helps bring her back to Arendelle, and saves her life.
HANS (M/ approx. 20s) Deceitful opportunist who tricks Anna and tries to steal the kingdom.
KRISTOFF (M/ approx. 20s) Falls in love with Anna, helping her with her mission.
LOGLINE: A young princess must learn to control her magical powers, which have damaged her relationship with her sister, and threatened to destroy her kingdom.
TITLE: FROZEN DRAFTDATE: 9/23/13
AUTHOR: Jennifer LeeCOVERAGE DATE: 3/3/16
Young sisters Elsa and Anna play happily together in their castle in the Kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa has magical powers, allowing her create and control ice with her hands. However, a young Elsa does not yet have complete control over her powers. As the sisters are playing, Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the head with her magic, knocking her unconscious. Elsa’s parents burst into the room, angry at finding Anna, who is ice cold. The King takes his daughter to a Troll, who heals Anna and erases her memory of Elsa’s powers. The sisters grow apart, as Elsa is told to conceal her dangerous powers. It breaks Elsa’s heart that she must keep her distance from Elsa, especially after their parents die at sea.
An 18 year old Anna is delighted that the castle doors are finally opened on Elsa’s coronation day. Anna bumps meets a male admirer HANS, and they hastily agree to marry. Elsa refuses to give Anna and Hans her blessing. Anna angrily provokes Elsa, causing her to accidentally reveal her magic. Elsa runs away, and the evil DUKE of WESELTON convinces everyone that she has cursed the kingdom with snow in July. Anna goes to find Elsa, claiming she is not dangerous. Anna entrusts the kingdom to Hans, in her absence.
Anna meets KRISTOFF, asking him to take her to the North Mountain to find Elsa. They meet OLAF the snowman, who was created by Elsa. All three companions finally reach Elsa’s ice castle, but Elsa does not want to leave, as she is afraid of hurting anyone else. Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the heart, and she is forced to leave without Elsa. Kristoff takes Anna to the trolls, who notice that there is chemistry between them. The trolls also tell Anna that if the ice in her heart is not removed, it will freeze her forever. Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart. Anna and Kristoff rush back to the castle, hoping that Hans can thaw her heart. A dying Anna asks Hans to kiss her, but he reveals that he never loved her, and only wanted control of the kingdom. Hans and the Duke plan to kill Elsa. Kristoff goes back for Anna, after realizing his love for her. Anna herself finally learns what love is, and sacrifices herself to save Elsa’s life. Anna turns to ice, and is shattered into tiny pieces by Hans’ sword. Suddenly, Anna begins to thaw, due to the true love that she has experienced. Hans and the Duke are overthrown, and Elsa and Anna regain control of the kingdom. Anna and Kristoff also reunite. The gates of Arendelle are left open, and Anna and Elsa enjoy the relationship they have always wanted.
The script focuses on the relationship between two sisters, who are pulled apart due to Elsa’s dangerous magical powers. The story has plenty of situational conflict, as well as emotional and inter-personal. There is a strong cast of supporting characters, such as Olaf, who offers comic relief throughout the script. Elsa’s magical powers are also a curse, as she struggles to control them, and repeatedly hurts her beloved sister by accident. The story sets clear goals, with Elsa needing to learn to control her powers, in order for her to have the close relationship with Anna that she has always wanted. The audience is able to empathize with the main characters, as Elsa is forced to hide her powers, and suffers ongoing emotional turmoil. It is rewarding for the audience to see Elsa develop, learning to embrace and control her power, rather than isolating herself from everyone she loves. The story has a happy ending, with Anna and Elsa reuniting, and overcoming the evil powers who tried to seize their kingdom. The script adds important modern twists to a classic fairytale structure, with Anna being misled by the seemingly perfect Hans. It is also a development from the conventional fairytale structure, that Anna rather than Elsa finds her perfect partner. Elsa’s story focuses more on self-improvement and familial love, rather than romantic love. It is also unpredictable and refreshing that Anna is not brought back to life by true love’s kiss.
The script has great, catchy musical numbers that hold great commercial promise. In particular, the ‘Let it Go’ song has the potential to be a distinctive and memorable catchphrase for the script. The musical numbers also help to move the story along, but in an especially exciting and uplifting way. The visual effects in the script, with the fantastical and creative use of magical snow, also increase the commercial potential. Although stunning, the visual effects would make the budget very high.