Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Be Better Disney

So this week Disney released the Pete's Dragon trailer.

Watching it made me realize how conflicted I am about the whole live action Disney remake thing. See I am a Disney brat. Brand loyalty will be the death of me (downs a can of Coke) but damn it the Disney name means something to me. For better or worse I want Disney to rule the world. I know that little bugger mickey has brainwashed me, and on some level I know he just wants my money but damn it, "Hakuna Matata", "One Jump Ahead", "Not In Nottingham", "Cruella Devil'.

Let me allow the other side of my brain to take over this post for a second. The childhood memories of 3 generations, Pixar, Ghibli Distribution, Marvel Comics, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. Maybe it would be nice if the mouse just took a decade off and let someone else run my living room or worse yet pretty much most the fantastical side of my psyche. If they somehow manage to find a way to buy Lord of the Rings, that's it. I'm done. They own me. And that prospect makes me very very uncomfortable.  I don't want a single company to be that responsible for ... the tao of me.

I need to read more.

But anyway. I am kind of invested in Disney glory. I honestly do believe that Disney is right smack dab in the middle a new renaissance, Frozen, Big Hero Six, Maleficent. And I think of the branch of old Disney nobody talks about. Their old live action stuff.

I think that in a lot of ways old Disney was on the bleeding edge. Pushing technical film limits and introducing a lot of stories that were contemporary. 60's Disney was very much a studio of its time. And that's where the conflict comes. I like a lot of 60's Disney movies but if I were honest I would rather modern Disney acted in the spirit of its 60's counterpart.

And that's my worry with the whole live action remake thing. I'm not saying you can't make good movies out of remakes.

But I don't like that the draw of live action Disney has gone from a general nostalgia of the studio's reputation to the more specific, "You know that thing you liked, we're doing that again" nostalgia.

101 Dalmatians, The Rescuers, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Black Cauldron were pretty contemporary stories when Disney decided to adapt them. Even the Sword in the Stone was based on a book that had just been re-released.

And I would argue Disney live action movies were even more experimental narratively and technically than their animated counter parts.

What I don't want is a Disney that rests on its laurels. I want a Disney that releases movies that people talk about and comment on 40 years later.

Which brings me to my next point. Cinderella. Maleficent earned a lot of good will that this crazy plan could work. That Disney actually was reflecting on its history rather than just brazenly trying to relive it.

And Cinderella took it away. Don't get me wrong Pete's Dragon looks like a pretty wild take and has restored some of that faith but let's be honest Cinderella is inconsequential.  And I think to myself. You know they already made the revisionist Cinderella 20 years ago.

Ever After may have problems but it is recognizable as Cinderella while at the same time being a bit of a deconstruction commenting on everything from fairy tale fatalism, to class, to gender.

I love reimaginings.

But let's face it right now Disney, especially Disney proper not the parts of the company that it bought over decades kind of has its head up its ass serving its greatest hits on a platter.

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