The Old “New”

The Old New

June Hill

It is Feb. 15, 1950. The theater is dark and hushed, and the audience waits in anticipation as the starting credits role. As the movie progress and Cinderella is reunited with her prince, the viewers become teary eyed, reflecting on the challenges of finding true love. Flash forward 65 years and the theater is crowded
again. The audience sits in awe and watches Cinderella find love. The only difference: it’s in live action
and the audience already knows the ending.

Recently, the theaters have been ringing with familiar titles. From “Cinderella” to “Beauty and the Beast”, from “Jungle Book” to” Marry Poppins”, the concept of remaking classic Disney films has become a popular trend; however, this has caused movie viewers to wonder if there are any original stories left to tell.

Although recent movie remakes have included slight plot twists, changes in cinematography, alterations
in the demographics of the casts and other modernizations, the basic plots, settings and characters have remained untouched, something that is becoming concerning to movie viewers.

Despite skepticism over the originality of new movies, the box offices have been busy. The “Jungle Book” live-action movie, released in 2016 made $1.01 billion and other live-action remakes have followed suit.

Additionally, movie makers have been using several tactics to attempt to tell or expand on classic stories in new ways.

The new Mary Poppins movie, “Mary Poppins Returns”, takes the classic story 20 years into the future, and other movies have had similar aspirations.

Netflix’s “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” takes a different spin on the Disney-adapted novel, attempting to focus on the character Mowgli himself and his relationships with humans.

Even with these adaptations, film critics are left wondering if the movie industry is making these changes only because they are running out of stories and not because they capture imagination of their audiences.

Disney especially has gotten to a point in their movie making where they have a litany of classic, well-loved characters. This has become advantageous for the company, as fans flock to any new film that references any one of their iconic characters. In addition to the usage of iconic characters, Disney and other movie producers have added already established modern actors and celebrities to draw in some of the more reluctant crowd members.

A prime example of this strategy was Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” where Emma Watson starred as the well-known character of Belle. Despite having little to no singing experience on film, Watson drew in an entire demographic of fans, in addition to the already loyal Disney fans. This was made prevalent, as the movie made $1.264 billion in the box offices, which was more than the original movie made upon release in 1991.

As a result of the immense amount of success seen with redoing or adding on to their classic films, Disney has several more planned for the future. Other brands have also taken their own spin on the original stories, that Disney made recognizable. With all the hustle and bustle over bringing back the original stories, it has become vital for audiences to consider whether the movies pack any originality or if they are merely cash cows, that have developed into a pop culture:


Spoiled Ketchup Score 87%

Upon its release date in 2015, Disney’s
live-action “Cinderella,” one of the first and most prominent live-action remakes, was praised for being “refreshingly traditional,” and may have been worthy of such compliments.
The story, like the original movie tells the tale of young Ella, whose mother passed away, leaving her a message of the importance of remembering to always be kind. When her father too passes away, Ella is left with her abusive step mother and step sisters who treat her with cruelty, nicknaming her Cinderella.                Unlike the original story, the movie also provides insight on the backstory of prince charming, also known as Kit in the movie, who is forced by his father to find a princess to marry, despite falling in
love with a mysterious girl he met in the woods.
Similar to the original movie, the producers placed a large emphasis on the characterization of Cinderella; however, they also drew attention to the characterization of the prince, which may have been as much a social statement, as it was a plot point.
Although the movie creators did a decent job with the characterization, they still fell a bit short of obtaining the character quality of Cinderella in the original film. In the 1950 version, Cinderella is undoubtedly kind; however, she still reflects having discontentment with her life and a zest for more, whereas the more modern Cinderella is characterized as being naive and unnecessary, sentimental connections to the past.
Additionally, the small adjustments in character and the relationship between Cinderella and the prince were not enough to warrant the movie as original.

The usage of a real cast, mixed with CGI was
impressively put together, but did little to change the story. This choice to remain true to the story
did not necessarily hinder the magic of the tale and accompanied with CGI, rather reinstoked Disney
traditions of wonder, magic and excitement. The acting was nothing special, but did do a sufficient job for the most part, expressing the lessons of the original film.
Disney’s choice to return to its origins was certainly wise in this instance and was refreshing, as the true plot had not been referenced for 65 years and came as a pleasant surprise to moviegoers who were not expecting a story that so closely mirrored the original.
All in all, director Kenneth Branagh, created a beautiful image of “Cinderella” and only grew the world’s love for the story of the power of kindness in the face of adversary.

Mowgli Legend of the Jungle
Spoiled Ketchup Score 11%

Since the original Disney release of “The Jungle Book” in 1967, the story of young Mowgli, an orphan boy who survives in the jungle with the help of the animals who adopt them, has become
one of the most beloved stories of all time.
Although more than 15 versions of the tale have been released over the years and in 2018, Disney did a live-action version of their original film, versions on the story are continuing to be made. Most recently, Netflix released their version, “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” this year.

Similar to the original movie, “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” also tells the tale of Mowgli; however, it places more emphasis on Mowgli’s internal conflict over if he is really human, or rather a stronger part of the animals who took care of him after his parents were slaughtered by the tiger, Shere Khan.
Despite being associated with a truly cute original story, “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” did not fall into the category of feel-good movies.

Unlike the original, G-rated movie, “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” was rated PG-13 and for good reason. The movie was surprisingly gruesome for having a young child for the main character and featured a few dark, bloody moments not appropriate for children.
Even though the movie had several dark scenes and did not have dancing or singing, it still lacked
any depth whatsoever, causing it be quite boring for an older audience, including adolescents.
The objective of the movie was to tell the “real” story of Mowgli; however, the movie-makers didn’t seem to have a story in mind, as they danced about the concept of originality, while still trying to incorporate all the characters from the original movie, without purpose.
It seemed at times, the movie was trying to reflect the evil in human society, but the presence of Shere Khan alongside the human enemies generated confusion over the intended message of the movie and the ending was certainly questionable.

Rather than reflecting Mowgli’s internal growth, the director, Andy Serkis only painted an image of the character’s downward spiral into revenge and disconnect with others, both human and not human, leaving audiences confused and dissatisfied, all while creating nothing original.

If the movie had been released at a date farther away from Disney’s spectacular live-action film, it may have seemed less like a horrible knock-off; however, the timing and disastrous qualities made it a movie not worth seeing.
Although “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” had several redeeming qualities, such as relatively strong animations, it was still an overall mess that should not be wished upon any movie enthusiast.

Mary Poppins Returns
Spoiled Ketchup Score 62%

As one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, “Mary Poppins Returns,” released
on Dec. 19, was somewhat of a disappointment.
Although not technically a remake, the movie strongly mirrored the original, but took the story 20 years into the future. After the bank decides to repossess the home of Michael Banks, one of the children from the original movie who is now an adult in the story, him and his three children have a matter
of days to find a certificate of shares that will grant them enough money to keep their home. As a result of their father’s sudden frustration, lack of person to watch over them and a strange incident involving a kite, the unaged Mary Poppins returns to watch over the three Banks children, John, Annabelle and Georgie, providing them with lessons.

Like the original film, the movie contains an immense amount of song and dance, which was quite pleasing for many viewers who enjoyed this iconic aspect of the original. In fact, the movie had quite a few similarities to the original… quite possibly too many similarities.
One of the most notable attributes of the film was the immense number of parallels drawn to the original, that were unnecessary and caused the story to be almost identical to the first movie.
For instance, the well-known chimney sweeps were turned into “leerys,” who lit the lights of London, rather than clearing chimneys. This was also the case with the popular kites, which were turned into balloons for unknown reasons.
The movie also featured a mostly animated scene, which was well-done; however, also seemed to too closely mimic, rather than simply reflect on the magic and mystery of the original movie.
Additionally, a lot of excitement seemed to revolve around members of the cast, rather than the characters themselves. One such actor that had many excited to see the movie was Lin Manuel Miranda, known for his work in other Disney films as well as the beloved musical, Hamilton.
In the movie, Miranda played the role of Jack, a humble leery who accompanies Poppins and the children on their journeys and pursues a romance with Michael Banks’ sister, Jane. Although Miranda played the role well, it was not his best work and he seemed a bit distant from the character he was attempting to portray.
Despite some of its downfalls, the movie had some admirable traits as well. The movie did have quite a few original songs, which was pleasing to fans, as well as brought back Dick Van Dyke, one of the most well-loved members of the original cast.
In total, “Mary Poppins Returns” was by no means a failure. It did have shortcomings in originality, which was frustrating as it was a sequel; however, it was still entertaining and imaginative, like the original story.