Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse! In tribute to the big guy on his special day, we're celebrating and ranking the live-action remakes in the house of mouse, because really, it's a Disney world, and we all just live in it.
If you’re a dog person, then this movie will give you the cuteness overload. When the franchise started in 1961, audiences were thrilled by the cartoon family of 101 dalmatians all living together under one roof…so if the animated dogs in that film were awesome, the sky’s the limit for these real-life ones.
Children / 1996 / G
Fashion designer Anita and computer-game writer Roger meet, fall in love and marry along with their dalmatians Perdita and Pongo. The dogs' puppies are kidnapped by Anita's boss Cruella De Vil, who is stealing young dalmatians to make the coat she has set her heart on. Pongo and Perdita set out to find and rescue all ninety-nine pups from their fearsome captors.
With elephants, usually their most unique characteristic is their abnormally long trunk…not this time. Here, a small elephant has ears so large they could be used as shelter...or wings to fly. The kids film was converted into a live-action movie in 2018, once more helmed by Tim Burton. While it's cool to see Dumbo soaring through the circus again, it’s tough to compare it to the original, which is an established family classic.
Fantasy / 2019 / PG
Struggling circus owner Max Medici enlists a former star and his two children to care for Dumbo, a baby elephant born with oversized ears. When the family discovers that the animal can fly, it soon becomes the main attraction -- bringing in huge audiences and revitalizing the run-down circus. The elephant's magical ability also draws the attention of V.A. Vandevere, an entrepreneur who wants to showcase Dumbo in his latest, larger-than-life entertainment venture.
10Alice in Wonderland
“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. No time to say hello, good-bye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.” It's a must-see Disney film, and if you haven’t seen it yet, it's really not too late. The original created a fantasy world within the real world that defied the laws of physics and showed kids creativity has no bounds. Tim Burton’s remake stars Johnny Depp, and it’s wild and weird...given it’s Burton and Depp, though, maybe not as weird or original as you’d expect.
Alice in Wonderland
Children / 2010 / PG
A young girl when she first visited magical Underland, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is now a teenager with no memory of the place -- except in her dreams. Her life takes a turn for the unexpected when, at a garden party for her fiance and herself, she spots a certain white rabbit and tumbles down a hole after him. Reunited with her friends the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Cheshire Cat and others, Alice learns it is her destiny to end the Red Queen's (Helena Bonham Carter) reign of terror.
9The Lion King
While Disney man Jon Favreau hit commercial and critical peaks with "The Jungle Book," his live-action remake of "The Lion King" was somewhat of a disappointment since it's mostly a note-for-note, hyper-realistic rendition of the original. Still, audiences enjoyed a little more "Hakuna Matata."
The Lion King
Adventure / 2019 / PG
Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub's arrival. Scar, Mufasa's brother -- and former heir to the throne -- has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba's exile. Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.
We’ve all heard of "Sleeping Beauty," but what about the unfairly maligned "evil" fairy? Here, Disney sets the record straight. The Mistress of All Evil, known as Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), is a powerful force to be reckoned with, but she's not everything she initially appears to be. The film didn’t get the praise of the original "Sleeping Beauty," but it did great at the box office, enough to warrant a follow-up.
Action / 2014 / PG
As a beautiful young woman of pure heart, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) has an idyllic life in a forest kingdom. When an invading army threatens the land, Maleficent rises up to become its fiercest protector. However, a terrible betrayal hardens her heart and twists her into a creature bent on revenge. She engages in an epic battle with the invading king's successor, then curses his newborn daughter, Aurora -- realizing only later that the child holds the key to peace in the kingdom.
Ever found a lamp and had the sudden urge to rub it? If so, maybe you've seen the movie that makes everyone feel that way. In the original, the late, great Robin Williams took over screens and hearts with his unforgettable genie that admittedly will never be surpassed. Still, Will Smith gives the role a playful spin in this 2019 reimagining.
Fantasy / 2019 / PG
Aladdin is a lovable street urchin who meets Princess Jasmine, the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah. While visiting her exotic palace, Aladdin stumbles upon a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful, wisecracking, larger-than-life genie. As Aladdin and the genie start to become friends, they must soon embark on a dangerous mission to stop the evil sorcerer Jafar from overthrowing young Jasmine's kingdom.
6Beauty and the Beast
With the well-known and cherished 1991 animated romantic fantasy, Disney passed on a heartfelt message that it’s not about what’s on the outside, and everything about the inside. The live-action remake also captures that sentiment, with Emma Watson perfectly cast as Belle in a faithful adaptation that captured the imaginations of worldwide audiences.
Beauty and the Beast
Children / 2017 / PG
Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast's hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.
It's unfortunate that "Mulan" debuted in the COVID era, and stateside, premiered only on the small screen, as it truly is an epic film about the legendary young woman who fought for her country and served better than any of her male peers. It's a timeless tale, well told in the live-action arena, and will be worth revisiting some day with retro screenings at the cinema.
Adventure / 2020 / PG-13
To save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, a fearless young woman disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in China.
He's the iconic Disney character from Hundred Acre Woods, and so popular he received his own update in theaters in 2018. Though Winnie the Pooh looked a little more worn in this live-action flick, his familiar voice and light-hearted personality drew folks right back to their childhood memories.
Fantasy / 2018 / PG
Christopher Robin -- now a family man living in London -- receives a surprise visit from his old childhood pal, Winnie-the-Pooh. With Christopher's help, Pooh embarks on a journey to find his friends -- Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo. Once reunited, the lovable bear and the gang travel to the big city to help Christopher rediscover the joy of life.
It’s the ultimate love story, about the mystery princess who loses her glass slipper. The unforgettable classic from 1950 taught moviegoers that it’s not about what you have, it’s about the person you are. Following the huge success of the original animation, Disney finally brought a live-action version to theaters in 2015. It was well-received by audiences, and with Richard Madden playing the prince, there were probably more than a few hoping to see if their foot would fit in that slipper.
Children / 2015 / PG
After her father unexpectedly dies, young Ella (Lily James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters, who reduce her to scullery maid. Despite her circumstances, she refuses to despair. An invitation to a palace ball gives Ella hope that she might reunite with the dashing stranger (Richard Madden) she met in the woods, but her stepmother prevents her from going. Help arrives in the form of a kindly beggar woman who has a magic touch for ordinary things.
Disney’s 1977 live-action/animated musical fantasy told the story of an orphan boy who runs away from his abusive foster parents with the help of a jolly green dragon. Although the original received somewhat mixed reviews, the studio took the gamble on a remake anyways, and produced a winning, heartwarming family film.
Children / 2016 / PG
Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford), a woodcarver, delights local children with stories of a mysterious dragon that lives deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. His daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) believes these are just tall tales, until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old orphan who says he lives in the woods with a giant, friendly dragon. With help from a young girl named Natalie (Oona Laurence), Grace sets out to investigate if this fantastic claim can be true.
1The Jungle Book
"Look for the bare necessities. The simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife." From the beloved tune on down, "The Jungle Book" is an absolute necessity, so popular Disney created this 2016 live-action remake, which strikes the perfect balance between respectful reverence for the original, and innovative technology that really does bring the jungle world to life.
The Jungle Book
Children / 2016 / PG
Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he's ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.
About the Author