I’m back! That’s right, after taking an unintentional hiatus for the last couple of months, I’ve returned! Hello? Anybody there? I’m sorry for the absence. It had become increasingly difficult for me to find the time and the energy to work on the blog, but hopefully I’m back for good. I’ve got some plans to make it easier for me to just sit down and write, even if it might change the tone/style of things here a little bit. I’ve been meaning to get back to writing for a while now, and thankfully today we got some big Disney news that inspired me to return to the keyboard. But rest assured (or be afraid) that I’m not done with thelovepirate.net, nor have I run out of things to say. I hope to tackle my backlog of missed reviews, as well as get into a habit of updating more frequently by perhaps posting shorter articles. I might even make some videos, who knows? But for now let’s tackle the news at hand.
So, to no one’s surprise, Disney has announced another remake of an animated classic. This time, Jon Favreau is following up his The Jungle Book success by “reimagining” The Lion King. Now, unlike many other hardcore Disney fans, I’ve largely been a supporter of their recent trend of live-action remakes of their animated catalogue. I’ve enjoyed all of them (Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Pete’s Dragon), though some more than others, and as a whole I see both the artistic and commercial appeal of this sort of filmmaking. I think many Disney animated films are ripe for remakes, either because the original is dated or because a filmmaker has a new or creative interpretation of the original. I may strongly disagree that animation is “just for kids” or that it is somehow a lesser form of storytelling, but there’s no denying that these remakes have reached a new and vastly different audience. And, in the end, Disney has a right to do whatever they want with their films. These new movies aren’t destroying the classics (or our childhoods), and they may in the end inspire new fans to watch the old masterpieces. I do understand the frustration and even the hatred some fans may have towards particular remakes, and the feeling that this is a frustrating trend, but I do think some of the backlash has been a little overblown.
The Jungle Book was always going to be one of the more difficult stops on the live action Disney remakes train. Alice in Wonderland was always ripe for a remake, and Disney went the smart route giving it to a visionary director like Tim Burton to create something unique. Maleficent took one of the most gorgeous but least interesting of the classic Disney animated films and gave us an entirely different take on the story, ditching what was familiar in order to try to replicate the popularity of Wicked. And Cinderella became a lavish spectacle, gorgeously constructed and faithful to the original but updated to give its heroine strength and an emotional core that helped her feel relevant again. I’ve enjoyed all of these live action remakes thus far, though to varying degrees, in spite of not being entirely on board with this latest movement from Disney, but I had some serious concerns about The Jungle Book. The 1967 animated version, Walt Disney’s final film, has a special place in the heart of Disney fans, but it’s also know for taking the most liberties with its source material, diverting wildly from Rudyard Kipling’s text and striking out on its own path. Would a modern version be able to find a compromise between capturing the spirit of the book and honoring a Disney legacy that should not be ignored? The answer is largely yes. This new version of The Jungle Book is a visual marvel with some of the most stunning imagery and impressive effects I’ve ever seen, one that generally manages to find a balance between widely different interpretations of the same story, anchored by a stampede of strong performances from both humans and animals alike.
I’ve started a new video series and podcast called “All-Reel Drive,” in which I talk about movies while in the car commuting to work. The first episode, split into two parts, is now up on YouTube, and it’s all about the movie news from the D23 Expo! You can watch both episodes embedded below, or scroll further down for the podcast versions you can take on the go. I hope you enjoy it!
The podcast versions of Episode 1A and 1B are embedded below. I’ve also included links to the mp3 files, so you can download them to your computer and then upload them to the portable device of your choice. Simply right-click and choose “Save Link as…” to save it to your computer. (My goal is to eventually have them available on iTunes, but I’m not to that point quite yet.)
All-Reel Drive – Episode 1A – D23 Expo Movie Round-Up – Animation
All-Reel Drive – Episode 1B – D23 Expo Movie Round-Up – Live-Action
Thanks for watching and listening! I’d love to hear what you think!
Day 1 of the 2015 D23 Expo was a lot of fun, with all of the Disney Animation/Pixar news as well as the Disney Legends ceremony and fun, smaller things like the Muppets! Day 2 focused its larger presentations on live action films and Parks and Resorts, with some exciting news and first looks on both fronts. I lined up early again this morning to get a spot for the Live Action presentation, and I’m happy I got there when I did, because half an hour later would have meant missing out. Clearly people were eager for some Marvel and Star Wars news, not to mention the full slate of films from Disney proper.