None of these Disney live-action films should be all that easy. Simply translating the world of animation into live-action should be an incredible challenge, and one that I would argue most of the live-action films have yet to really conquer (minus the occasional Pete’s Dragon, of course.) But the challenge of making money is pretty much non-existent for these things, with Beauty and the Beast already past a billion worldwide with many weeks of profit still to go. And Beauty and the Beast is just one of many of these live action remakes to find success — they are a massive cash cow for the studio, likely quite literally when Disney gets to their Home on the Range remake (you heard it here first, folks!) But, once again, on the creative side of things, they are far from surefire successes.
But that won’t stop Disney from making them, now will it?
One of the bigger ones in the works at this point is Aladdin. We’ve known that the remake is in development for a few months now, with Guy Ritchie (yes, really) attached as director. Aladdin is perhaps my favorite Disney movie, and I certainly don’t want to see it adapted poorly. The only problem is that one of the film’s huge selling points, Robin William’s Genie character, is impossible to pull off in live-action, for a number of reasons. Chief among them is the passing of Robin Williams, who was as integral to the character as an animated performance can be. NO ONE ELSE can play the character as well as Robin can…but it seems possible that one of Hollywood’s most charismatic actors is going to try his best anyways.
The actor in question is the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, who Deadline claims is in “early talks” to take on the role. Now if the idea of Will Smith having a role in a live-action Disney remake sounds familiar to you, don’t be alarmed for your sanity: Smith WAS, in fact, up for a role in Tim Burton’s Dumbo, but ended up passing on the part. But apparently Disney really wants the guy in one of their things, and feels like the role of Genie is just the type of thing to get his attention.
As for me…nope. And that’s not a sleight against Smith personally. I’m actually a bigger Will Smith fan than most; his charisma is unbelievable, and he can even make dreck like Suicide Squad fun just through sheer willpower (BOOM, still got it.) But I really can’t see him in this role, even if it is a major change from the “classic” Genie of old. To be honest, Smith just isn’t much of a voice actor, as his earlier gig in Dreamwork’s classic Shark Tale indicates.
You guys remember that movie? It had Jack Black as a clearly gay shark, and Angelina Jolie as the most fuckable fish on the planet. Martin Scorsese was there too, if you can believe it. Come to think of it, why does Bee Movie get the meme treatment? Where are all my Shark Tale memes?! It premiered at the Venice Film Festival! It was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar! It’s godawful, BUT IT MATTERS, DAMN IT.
…But, umm, yeah: Will Smith is no Genie, not in my mind at least. But the rube here is that no one in the world right now can play the character, and until Disney can fill such a massive hole in the final project, my enthusiasm will be curved accordingly.
The Aladdin remake doesn’t have a director at this time, but will apparently start shooting this summer, so…maybe it will be released in 2019? Your guess is as good as mine but, at this point, it seems likely that Mulan will beat it to the cinemas. The Lion King probably won’t come until after, though.
Yes, folks, welcome back to the 90’s. Y’all want some Jolt?