Finding out that Disney was making a live-action remake of “The Lion King” basically made my entire year. I have no shame in admitting that I’m still as Disney-obsessed now as I was 12 years ago when I first saw it, and I’m sure most of you feel the same way.
The announcement of this remake got me thinking about all the other re-releases that Disney has come out with over the years, and there are a few that definitely do not disappoint. So, for all you Disney lovers out there, here’s a list of the 10 best Disney remakes so far.
10. “Beauty and the Beast”
I know that this movie isn’t set to come out until 2017, but if I didn’t put it on this list, that would be a pretty big letdown. “Beauty and the Beast,” originally released in 1991, is one of Disney’s classics. It’s a tale that shows how personality is everything, and you can fall in love with anyone, no matter what they look like (or how hairy they are). The images from the film are already breathtaking, and with Emma Watson gracing us with her presence as Belle, this movie surely can do no wrong.
9. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
Inspired by one of my favorite Disney movies, “Fantasia,” this 2010 film tells the story of any average student who discovers that you must become a sorcerer-in-training in order to save the world. Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel star in this film, and they make a great comedic duo. While the actual story line is a little wacky, the CGI is beautifully done and makes the film worth watching.
8. “Peter Pan”
Jeremy Sumpter is the first boy to play Peter Pan in a remake of the classic, and he does a fantastic job depicting the liveliness of the character in this 2003 film. The energy of the movie manages to keep you smiling throughout, and reminds us to never forget the kid that lives inside of us. Jason Isaacs plays a fantastic villain, both as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, and the children in the film are great actors, especially considering that they have very large roles. The effects are also pretty good, especially from a 2003 standpoint. If you’re lacking in the faith, trust or pixie dust department, this is the film for you.
7. “Pete’s Dragon”
The original 1977 movie is not very well known and perhaps a surprising pick for Disney to recreate, but once you watch it, all your potential criticisms fly out the window. The film is so charming, and while it starts out on a sad note, it shows how much we all need a good friendship in our lives (even if that friendship comes from a green dragon named Elliott). Oakes Fegley stars as Pete in this remake, and does a fantastic job fighting for his connection with his dragon. What really puts this film at No. 7 on this list is the effects, which allow you to feel as though you are gliding above a great green forest, with Elliot and Pete as your guides.
6. “Freaky Friday”
Bet you didn’t know that this was a remake — the original was filmed in 1976. Director Mark Waters blessed us in 2003 with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan on the same screen. “Freaky Friday” was the movie of my middle school years, and I watched it at pretty much every sleepover I went to. Both leading ladies play their characters brilliantly; Lohan perfectly captures the essence of every teenage girl, while Curtis manages to transform into the same sassy teenage girl with the simple breaking of a fortune cookie. This film is witty, funny and perfectly depicts what would happen if you could truly walk a mile in another woman’s shoes. As an added bonus, Chad Michael Murray plays Lohan’s love interest, making him the cherry on top of an already delicious cake.
The film, released in 2014, shows the story of “Sleeping Beauty” from the eyes of perhaps everyone’s favorite villain, the one and only Maleficent. The darkness that director Robert Stromberg brings to the table warps this storybook tale into something unrecognizable and amazing. At the same time, the visual effects set a precedent for what’s to come for Disney. What truly makes this movie shine is Angelina Jolie (RIP Brangelina). I mean, just look at her: terrifying and beautiful with a great evil laugh — what more could you need?
4. “Alice in Wonderland”
Another film with simply stunning visual effects, “Alice in Wonderland” is based off the novel more than the 1951 animated film. The movie is full of outstanding actors and actresses: Johnny Depp, as the insane Mad Hatter; Helena Bonham Carter, a queen simply looking to take off a few heads; Anne Hathaway, a seemingly happy queen and Mia Wasikowska, the girl who simply fell down a hole. All of these characters blend so well together, and director Tim Burton does a great job of bringing this eerie version of a well-known tale to life. Even though the film has a slightly darker undertone, it does not stop anyone from taking the plunge into Wonderland, including Alice herself.
3. “The Parent Trap”
Another Lindsey Lohan movie joins our list, except this time there’s two of her. “The Parent Trap” first appeared in 1961, and has been a favorite ever since. The 1998 remake is no exception. While it’s not necessarily the remake of a Disney classic, it still deserves a spot on our list. It has just about everything one needs in a film: romance, comedy and just the right amount of sisterly love. Everyone loves the film, and Lohan once again shines in her performance. There’s just something so lovable about both of her characters that you can’t help but root for them the whole time. You end up feeling the same joy as Annie and Hallie do when their parents finally reunite.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated and well-loved remakes, “Cinderella” was brought to life for audiences in 2015. As one of the most popular princess tales, the film did not disappoint, allowing viewers once again to be caught up in the life of a poor, overworked girl. Lily James stars as a headstrong Cinderella, beautifully contrasting the wickedness of Cate Blanchett’s evil stepmother. The film reaches audiences on a deeper level this time around, and thanks to wonderful acting by James and company, we are able to see the emotions of characters directly on the surface. If anything, the tale becomes even more tragic before it reaches happily ever after, and that definitely makes it a must-see.
1. “The Jungle Book”
Oh, the best of the best. This 2016 film is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, hands down. I know I’ve said the other films have great effects, but the combination of live action and CGI basically demolishes everyone else in this category. You truly feel as though you’re traveling through the forest with Mowgli and Baloo, and you don’t want the film to end. The movie itself is scarier than the original, and that is due to the realness of animals such as Shere Khan and King Louie (if anything can be real about a talking tiger and an ape king). The acting in the film is also amazing, and no one manages to disappoint. There are barely words to describe the beauty of this film — the only way to understand it is to experience it for yourself. This is not a request, it’s a demand: go watch this film. You’ll simply be blown away.