5) ‘The Princess and the Frog’
This film would be great as live action if just for the visual hilarity. Nobody can say it wouldn’t be hysterical to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes level of CGI on frogs. And seeing a real life Tiana kissing a frog would be pretty amusing too. Set against a colorful New Orleans backdrop, this film would be a fresh change of typical princess stories taking place in Europe.
To see a Disney live action film (or just a Hollywood film in general) with a cast of ethnic and cultural diversity other than Caucasian would be reason enough. This would only be acceptable though if each character is equally ethnic, unlike in the animated version. In the animated Aladdin, the bad guys tended to have a stronger accent than the good guys who were more white-washed. If they’re to do it, they should do it right. The backdrop of the Middle East would be a welcome sight as well.
This movie has so much going for it that is still relevant today, 20 years after its initial release. Another strong female takes the lead, and this time she’s also a woman of color. That kind of minority is severely lacking in today’s blockbuster films. It also has fantastic messages and themes that we should be reminded of, like valuing the environment and nature, and how we should be more accepting and understanding of those of a different culture. Yes, this sounds quite a bit like Avatar, but perhaps if done properly by Disney and with less emphasis on visual effects, it could have a much more engaging story.
Aside from the obvious beauty that would be the production design and cinematography, Atlantis has a crew of colorful characters that are begging to be portrayed by real people. Milo as the endearing, nerdy, and awkward lead is certainly not a new kind of character to the film scene, but it’s also a character that hasn’t died out yet. Even better, the rest of the crew breaks stereotypes left and right. For example, a young female character is a mechanic, and the big muscly man is a medic. There’s also cultural diversity in abundance: French, African American and Native American, Puerto Rican, and Italian, to name a few. This film would be a great live action adventure. Imagine its potential if given more time and an older audience to allow for more mature themes.
Update (March 30): Disney is developing a live-action Mulan! Did they read this article?
Female lead? Check. Person of color? Check. Warrior princess? Check. Dragon? Check. Mulan is the perfect recipe for a live action film. This film, if done right, could reach epic proportions and such grandeur that can’t be captured in animation. It’s also potentially the most gender-neutral film on this list, easily garnering interest in both boys and girls. For those who like romance, there’s a bit of that but not too much to put off those that don’t like it. There’s action and humor, and most importantly, there’s a little dragon. Everything is always better with dragons.
Okay, maybe some of us don’t actually want a live action Frozen, but just for a moment, pretend you haven’t been bombarded by it over the last year. It wouldn’t be the worst idea. Two female leads, magic, cute creatures, an awareness of some of its absurdity (‘you got engaged to someone you just met?’), and witty one-liners, Frozen has a lot going for it. And just imagine how dazzling the set could look, with all the sparkling snow and ice. We’ve already had a taste of seeing the lead characters as real people in Once Upon a Time, so it’s certainly not a stretch to think that a whole live action film would be a possibility.