The 3 Worst Disney Live-Action Remakes to Date

Disney has seen its fair share of live-action successes. The Jungle Book was not only a box office triumph (as is expected with any production co-signed “Disney”) but premiered to positive critical and audience reception. The Jungle Book reimaging paid homage to the source material, while bringing it into a contemporary landscape. Unfortunately, not all Disney live-action remakes are created equal. 

'Alice in Wonderland'
‘Alice in Wonderland’ | Photo by Rischgitz/Getty Images

From mimetic storylines and uninspired characters to an overreliance on formula and fear of change, certain Disney live-action remakes have been critically panned and/or mocked by audiences for the sheer surplus of failure spewing from the screen with each passing scene. So, let’s get to it.

3) ‘Dumbo’ 

With Tim Burton directing and Danny DeVito (as a good guy!), Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, and Alan Arkin taking to the screen, this movie had all the ingredients necessary for success… and mixed them poorly. 

Akin to many live-action remakes, this movie’s stunning visuals cannot be denied. However, it can be argued that this movie’s beauty was only skin deep, as the visuals were an asset in an otherwise misguided reinvention. 

The storyline in Dumbo was stretched too thin, and its predictability proved overpowering and mind-numbing. The heart of the original is missing, and Burton’s iconic flair is seemingly lost on this film. In short, the film drags, and you’re waiting for the final act, growing more unconnected to the characters with each passing scene. 

2)  ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’

Why we received a follow-up to the first Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland remains anyone’s guess; the reviews the first time around were quite abysmal. However, the sequel managed to outdo its predecessor across all of its major drawbacks. 

Alice Through the Looking Glass takes some of Hollywood’s greatest talent and then treats them like amateur actors. The characters feel bland as if the actors themselves could not be bothered with this film. Fans can sense when a movie lacks spirit!

From incorporating a backstory for the Mad Hatter — that nobody asked for— to penning yet another weak narrative, the Alice in Wonderland sequel was a movie destined for failure.

1) ‘The Lion King’

While arguing that The Lion King is the worst Disney live-action remake to date may be a contentious claim, there are several reasons this movie takes this spot. First, as many critics agree, it is nearly a shot-for-shot replica of the original; afraid to veer too far from its predecessor, the movie feels mimetic and uninspired.

As for the stunning visuals, you get realistic lions but sacrifice the awards that come with 2D animation. From Scar’s condescending gazes to Zazu’s facial expressions that hint at his proper disposition, the CGI removed the emotive capabilities of its characters, losing the heart of The Lion King in the process. Fans got a musical nature documentary instead of The Lion King. 

Disney, likely in an admirable attempt to avoid queer-coding its villain, altered Scar’s entire personality. He is no longer the suave and seductive villain we remember; he is just another villain, boasting a trite angry voice and a dulled version of “Be Prepared.” 

When it comes down to it, The Lion King remake lacks originality, and where it chooses to veer from the original, it fails.