Hello, it’s me, the child friendly BC (me and the normal BC are almost identical except I love children). With the recent talk of the live action Lion King remake, along with the release of three similar remakes coming out next year, today we’re going to look at some films that were made without Disney’s involvement. I saw these films pop up on Netflix so I thought why not give them a shot. Similar to that atrocious Robin Hood remake (I recommend you check out : Robin Hood is a Complete Failure!) these movies I’m about to talk about were not made under the mouse’s influence and I’m going to be discussing these following films, so enjoy.
Our first non-Disney related Live Action remake is The Little Mermaid. In the first three minutes of this version of the classic tale you see a more subtle approach of Robin Hood’s ‘As you have never seen it before’ line. As in this version, it doesn’t outright lie but it has no choice but to do a completely different version or the Disney copyright police will be on their mermaid behinds. Besides the opening credits, which is basically a boring recap of the first 30 minutes of the animated Little Mermaid, it has zero connection to the animated classic. So we can immediately skip the comparisons and jump straight to the film.
Shirley MacLaine (I’m guessing her bills were overdue) is telling the actual story to two little girls who I presume are her grand-kids or her great nieces or someone else’s kids or they’re the daughters of the director or the studio executives who green lighted this movie or they’ve just abducted two random girls from the park or something and in return they get to be in The Little Mermaid and they get to be a star. WOW!
Jump back in time to uhhhhhhhhhh….just the olden times, you know when they had old stuff like old looking cars and no mobile phones and those old boxy computer things. We’re introduced to our main character Peter, the oldest kid from those Narnia movies. In this movie he’s the good guy who only thinks of others because he is too boring to have his own character. Then you’ve got his daughter or niece or sister – it’s never really clear. They set up that she has an unknown disease and it really is an unknown disease as it only affects her when the script says so and it has something do with Mermaids which is all still pretty vague.
Peter goes to Mississippi when his boss literally says ‘Hey there’s a guy who can cure your daughter’s plot contrived Mermaid illness, you should go and investigate that’. And he goes ‘Yeah, okay’. At Mississippi they go to a circus where the same theme tune is played for 20 minutes. (This soundtrack is so bland that I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that it’s all free stock music.) At this discount circus there is like a Ferris Wheel that Peter is afraid the girl might hurt herself on, there is a fortune teller who tells them their future which isn’t really necessary because this movie is too predictable for the need of a fortune teller.
From here they go to the circus where it looks like an amateur circus group because there is only one elephant and a hairy guy, who sounds like Worf from Star Trek the Next Generation, and that’s about it. Then we’re introduced to the ringmaster who acts like a very obvious bad guy right from the get go. This is where we see the main attraction – the ringmaster has a living mermaid on display.
This movie is only an hour and 20 long and it feels more soulless than the Disney’s remakes and what I have described is like 20 minutes of the movie. This story is completely original but it’s also dull and forgettable. The most entertaining thing was the horrendous acting and how the last act of the movie makes no sense, which is what I want to quickly touch upon. Spoilers if you care! So we find out that the chick is an actual mermaid and is a prisoner of the ringmaster who’s really a wizard. So while the show is on, the fortune teller lady freezes time so they can free the mermaid. But only the main characters can move around, not the evil guy and not the audience. It was never set up that she could freeze time but she can now and it’s just convenient that the mermaid and Peter’s caretaker are unfrozen. There is other stuff that doesn’t make sense but that was the main one.
In the end the wizard is killed by magic when the little girl believes in mermaids, huh????, the mermaid is brought back to the water and now free of the wizard because he’s dead, which again doesn’t make any sense because in the animated opening they told us only true love’s kiss could free her of the wizard and she had a bit of a thing with Peter before that subplot is completely forgotten. But I understand remembering important information like that is hard work and our movie is targeted to little girls, so who really gives a flying mermaids tail. The little girl cures her mermaid power sickness thingy when she takes a swim and they all live Happily Ever After.
I remember watching a bit of the trailer back in August or September and it looked alright but it turns out it is really far worse than I expected. According to Box Office Mojo this movie was only in theaters for 9 days and it cost about $5 million to make and it hasn’t even recovered $1 million. If it didn’t have the iconic title it would probably do even worse. (You’re making Robin Hood look like Black Panther!) A 2/10 for me, it’s on Netflix and I don’t think it’s worth even that, I wouldn’t even recommend it to it’s targeted audience, make them watch the Disney animated Little Mermaid instead – it’s much better.
Our last non-Disney related Live Action remake is Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and this version was surprisingly pretty damn good! It’s made by people who didn’t want to cash in on the title and the iconic story but wanted to make a faithful original story to the source material. It’s kind of like what every remake should aim to do but for some reason every remake doesn’t. (Movie studios, especially Disney, please take note.)
I remember back in July or August I saw posters of this movie at my cinema but no real advertisement for it. It eventually went direct to Netflix which I think was the better call because I don’t think I would have bothered if it was released in cinemas. I’m not really sure why it was dropped but I’m guessing with the 2016 remake being still relevant it would have been too early for another theatrical release.
So for this movie they can actually afford to use the classic characters and stories so it’s okay to make comparisons. So the first thing you’ll notice compared to the Disney versions is in this version of the Jungle Book it’s more dark and gritty – like animals are viciously killed and it’s treated more like a real Jungle where the top dog rules the jungle.
Anyway, here’s the story. A baby’s parents are killed by the only tiger in the whole jungle named Shere Khan. A black panther named Bagheera finds the ‘man-cub’ and leaves him to be raised by wolves. A couple of years later Shere Khan wants the boy’s blood and Bagheera wants him to go to the nearby ‘man village’ while Mowgli wants to train to be a wolf. The story shocked me on how good it actually is. It’s a coming of age story for our protagonist so he gets all the attention and everyone else only shows up when they are needed to advance his story.
It’s very much like the 2016 Jungle Book where an all-star cast voice the CG animals and the little boy is talking to nothing. I don’t think they have Disney’s resources to rebuild an entire jungle from a computer because this movie’s animals look kind of bad. But it looks like they filmed on site which I believe looks much better than a computer jungle because it’s not going to look awful 15 years in the future.
Let’s talk about the star, Mowgli, who is probably the only character worth talking about because he’s the most interesting character in the whole movie. Getting Mowgli right is the most important thing when making a Jungle Book movie because if he sucks than your movie will suffer and finding a good child actor is pretty hard. God damn Andy Serkis, stop surprising me, I feel like it’s my birthday or something. The kid they got for Mowgli was pretty damn good. His British accent comes and goes but the actor did a good job at making me care and feel invested in Mowgli’s story because he does have an actual arc, you’re rooting for this kid, you understand him and it’s very satisfying to see it come full circle. Normally Mowgli is the worst part of a Jungle Book movie but not this time. Now the other versions feel all tainted for me because of how annoying their kids are.
The 2016 Mowgli wasn’t bad but the kid is so chubby and clean it’s like the Jungle is a 5 star resort. The kid also acts like a spoiled brat at some points and a bit of an idiot at others. This latest version of the character is awesome because he’s a feral messy kid. He’s hair is untamed, he’s very skinny, he looks really filthy and he looks like a child who has lived in the jungle for his whole life. I can’t help it, I love what they did with this child, he acts like a normal child when Bagheera tells him you’re not a wolf and I truly bought when he was afraid of jumping to a tree branch because he thinks he’s a wolf. It’s a slow progression that works perfectly and I’m going to shut up about it now.
The other characters are okay and they work for their roles. They’re not very interesting characters but they serve their purpose and I’m fine with that. The animals look a little bit more exaggerated than their realistic 2016 counterparts. The one looking the most exaggerated is Shere Khan – he looks almost like his animated counterpart. Probably the best animal character was Christian Bale as Bagheera as he was like a distant father figure for our main character, instead of an annoying over protective nag like in the other versions. All the other performances I think were pretty good but the one I felt was the most off was Cate Blanchett as Kaa – she sounded like Galadriel from Lord of the Rings if she was high on drugs.
There are no musical numbers in this movie so don’t expect The Bare Necessities or any of that. I read a few reviews complaining about the inconsistent tone which I just wanted to address as it didn’t bother me. It’s nowhere near perfect, there are a few stupid moments and a lot of plot conveniences that made me roll my eyes a bit. I like Mowgli but I couldn’t care at all about his wolf family who have all these rules that are brought up whenever it’s convenient. This may be just me but I find them very hard to tell apart.
As I said before, I was very surprised on how much I enjoyed this movie. I think Andy Serkis did a great job here, it looks nice, it’s got great cinematography and some pretty great performances and I’ll give this an 8/10. I think if you’re a fan of The Jungle Book and want to see a fresh adaptation, then I highly recommend it or if you haven’t seen it and it interests you then go and watch it on Netflix.
That’s it for now until I find something else to review, so til next time, the child friendly Blog Complainer is out of here. (Until the boss calls me back again so he can use my cool avatar.)