Like it or not, Disney seems set on mining its intellectual properties for live action remakes. It’s not a totally unfamiliar idea, as they’ve been bringing movies out of the “Disney vault” for re-releases on the reg for as long as I’ve had a VCR.
Any remake is difficult to justify, fighting off accusations of soullessness and unnecessity. But let’s put that aside for a second and look at, somewhat objectively, how good these movies actually are.
The ranking below is meant to be an objective look, informed by multiple sources, including but not limited to, Rotten Tomatoes freshness rating and IMDb user rating, which are listed.
An attached store (out of a possible 100) is also included as a way to show just how far critical and public opinion deviates from one movie to the next. This score is a weighted average of all of the factors taken into account.
8. Alice Through the Looking Glass (50/100)
Rotten Tomatoes: 30% | IMDb Score: 6.2
What’s worse than a soulless remake? How about a sequel to a soulless remake. Sure, there were diehard fans chomping at the bit to get back to Wonderland but in the second trip, the filmmakers seemingly ramped up on what was often off-putting about the original.
7. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (53/100)
Rotten Tomatoes: 41% | IMDb Score: 6.1
This is probably the biggest stretch with regards to actually being a live action remake but The Sorcerer’s Apprentice did grow out of the idea of turning the Fantasia segment into its own feature film. The result was this sort-of Nicolas Cage vehicle that failed to impress audiences or critics.
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6. Alice in Wonderland (60/100)
Rotten Tomatoes: 52% | IMDb Score: 6.5
I’ve never made my dislike for Alice in Wonderland a secret. In my original 2010 review, I described how its strangely hollow grandeur left me frustrated that the movie even exists.
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5. Maleficent (64/100)
Rotten Tomatoes: 50% | IMDb Score: 7.0
Maleficent comes in at the top of the bottom of the heap. Critics actually scored this a little worse than Alice in Wonderland but the much larger support of audiences results in an overall higher score.
4. Pete’s Dragon (76/100)
Rotten Tomatoes: 87% | IMDb Score: 6.8
2016’s Pete’s Dragon arguably doesn’t belong on the list at all since it’s a remake of a hybrid live-action / animated movie but what the hey, we’ll include it any way. The remake uses its special effect, reduced running time, and solid performances to tell a more human story than the original. This one is also only one of two movies on this list to actually score higher than its original film. The 1977 version comes in with a score of 57/100.
3. Cinderella (76/100)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% | IMDb Score: 7.0
Generally, you hope that when a movie is remade, it’s done with some kind of purpose. Maybe the original is aging poorly or an update would provide the opportunity to discuss a more modern idea that the original can’t quite apply to. In my review of 2015’s Cinderella, I suggested that this was more of an “update” than a remake since it’s pretty much the same movie with a new coat of paint – albeit that new coat of paint includes Oscar-winning costume work. It feels like a cash-grab but not to the point of being cheap.
2. Beauty and the Beast (77/100)
Rotten Tomatoes: 70% | IMDb Score: 7.9
As of this writing, Beauty and the Beast is entering its second weekend in theatres, so its scores are still more malleable than the other entries on the list. If only critic scores were taken into account, this movie would actually come 4th on the list, about 10 points below Cinderella. The general critical consensus is that Beauty and the Beast is by-and-large an unnecessary remake of a movie that holds up just fine on its own. Audiences and users, on the other hand, score Beauty and the Beast as the best of the remakes. So, we could just be waiting for a populist bubble to burst for non-critics to realize Beauty and the Beast isn’t as great as they think, or once some time has passed, maybe critics will wonder, as the song goes, why they didn’t see it there before.
1. The Jungle Book (83/100)
Rotten Tomatoes: 95% | IMDb Score: 7.5
The Jungle Book remake is not only a visual delight, it also somehow manages to improve upon the classic original movie. Director Jon Favreau’s next Disney project is a remake of The Lion King, so we can’t help but hope he’ll be able to create the same kind of magic again.
So what do you think? Does this pretty much jive with how you would rank these? Leave us a comment either here or on Facebook and Twitter to let us know where this is either an absolutely perfect ranking or completely out to lunch.