I’m a little late to the party, I know. But I want to chime in on this too, dammit! So chime in I shall!
Everyone on the internet has already torn the shit out of Will Smith as the Genie in the new Aladdin live action remake. For good reason, too. Not only does it look like a dollar store porn parody (which is an insult to porn parodies), but it looks straight up offensive! How could anyone behind the scenes have approved this?!
Disney owes the Blue Man group a huge apology.
But I’m not here to spend a whole post shitting on a movie I haven’t seen yet. From what they’ve shown us, I’m confident that I won’t like it, but I can’t make a rock solid judgement until I’ve seen the film. Instead, I want to talk about live action remakes in general and why they simply don’t work.
Live action remakes are made primarily for two reasons. One: to make a quick, low-effort buck. Writing the script basically takes no time at all, since they can almost just copy-and-paste from the original. Plus, the nostalgia-chasing millennials will likely go out and support it, even if it’s shit.
Two: to show of their computer generated effects. Just look at the upcoming Lion King remake (which isn’t live action, since there isn’t a single person or real animal in the whole damn thing, but sure). The animals all look photo realistic, with very nicely rendered and convincing fur. It’s Disney’s way of saying “Look how good our computers are!” to the rest of the world.
Even though they already have Marvel and Star Wars for that. And the Genie looks like fucking garbage.
But do you know why these don’t work? Aside from them being low effort, cash-grabbing garbage, that is. It’s a little something called expressive animation.
Let’s have a look at Aladdin. Take one shot from any point in that movie, and you can tell what’s going on and what that character is feeling, even if it’s not in motion. This is thanks to the completely fantastic art and animation! Each minute facial animation and character movement are lovingly crafted and tells the audience what the character is feeling and thinking without a single word! The characters literally ooze personality!
This simply doesn’t work in live action. Characters can’t be as expressive as they are in animation! Will Smith won’t be capable of the same literally-larger-than-life expressions of the original Genie (he also can’t much the god-tier performance of the late Robin Williams, but let’s be real, no one can), and he’s not going to be able to seamlessly work in the different transformations that reference real life actors and pop culture.
Simply put: the Genie cannot work in live-action on any level. Everything that makes the Genie so wonderful in the first place is absent here.
Another issue is in longevity. What a lot of people don’t realize is that 2-D animation is immune to age. Just take one look at any animated movie from the nineties! They still look fantastic to this day, and they will for the rest of time! The style, movement, color and character designs are all so smooth and beautiful, and the advancements in technology will never be able to touch it!
CGI, on the other hand, is doomed to age. No matter how good a movie’s special effects may be, they will eventually be left in the dust by more modern and advanced special effects. “Eh, but Jonah!” I hear some of you saying. “That won’t be for a long time! Technology takes a long time to advance!”
No it doesn’t. Technology advances in long strides in short periods of time. For example, let’s look at a game on the PS2, which came out in 2000. This was the original God of War.
Now, here’s the God of War that came out on the PS4.
When did the PS4 come out again? Oh yeah! 2013! Technology has advanced this far in just over a decade!
Now just imagine what a decade of time will do to these live action remakes. You think Will Smith’s Genie looks like garbage right now? How do you think he’ll look in 2030? Hell, what do you think he’ll look like in 2024?
These movies are doomed to age. They, unlike the animated movies they’re cash cowing, will never be timeless. The classic movies have aged like a fine wine. But these movies will, to quote a certain Nazi general in a certain parody series I know, will age like milk!
Spoiled, sour, and ruining my meal. (Go watch Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, it’s great.)
This may not sound like an issue, but it tells us so much about how these movies are made. They aren’t designed to be art that will last forever. No one will watch these live action remakes and be inspired by the magic of animation. No kid in the world will watch these films and think to themselves “This is amazing! I want to make something like this one day!”
It’s a cash grab. These movies aren’t made to be art! They’re commercial diarrhea designed with the sole intent of taking money from nostalgic teenagers and parents who don’t care what their kids see. These aren’t love letters to the fans who loved the originals! They’re a mob boss breaking down your door and yelling “SHUT UP AND GIVE ME YOUR FUCKING MONEY!!”
Could this movie bounce back and prove to be good? I think it’s unlikely, but it’s possible. However, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that these movies won’t last. After about a week or two in theaters, people will move on with their lives and forget this movie even existed in the first place. Don’t believe me?
Remember the live action Tarzan from just a few years ago? Yeah. Didn’t think so.