Sure to be the first big money maker in 2015, Disney’s live-action adaptation of Cinderella hits theaters later this week. Following in the footsteps of Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, and many of Disney’s older live-action movies, Cinderella is taking one of their more well-known properties and rebooting them for modern day. While most likely not being the wholesale reboot that Sleeping Beauty got with Maleficent, it still looks to tell an incredibly familiar story in a brand new and exciting way.
Sitting back and reflecting on the grand, or not so grand, tradition of studios taking cartoons and turning them into live-action movies, we’re counting down five movies that stand the test of time for either their capturing of the cartoons spirit, sheer campiness, good storytelling, or just downright awesomeness. Now, I’m playing fast and loose with what qualifies, as technically every superhero movie could qualify, but I am keeping them out for the sake of making this list interesting instead of a superhero movie countdown. You’ll see how fast and loose I get as we progress.
5) Space Jam
You see about the fast and loose thing? Space Jam is not a straight up adaptation, obviously, nor is the movie all that particularly good. However, the movie is so much fun and combines two of the most well-known and loved icons at that time; Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Boasting an all-star cast (literally) on NBA stars, Hollywood A-Listers, and cartoons, this movie is crazy and awesome from start to finish. As we talked about on the latest episode of the podcast, sometimes movies can be fun and Space Jam is just fun.
4) George Of The Jungle
Alright, hang with me, I swear this list gets better. Again, George of the Jungle is by no means a great movie. Heck, it’s not even really that good. However, it perfectly captures the tone and feel of the cartoon show I loved when I was growing up watching Cartoon Network. Brendon Fraser somehow manages to make George, a Tarzan spoof, seem somewhat plausible and a real person. It is a straight up goofball movie with the narrator and everything, and, again, it is another fun movie that will make you split your side with laughter.
I seriously hope that this does not destroy my credibility as a movie reviewer…
3) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Are you still with me? Good, now we’re bumping up in quality (sorta). The 1990 live-action TMNT movie is pretty campy, oddly violent, but definitely loads of bodacious fun. I loved the cartoon as a kid and the live-action movie, just like George of the Jungle, manages to capture the feel of the cartoons while giving the appropriate nods to the darker, less campy comic books. It’s also the reason I love pizza so much to this day.
Alright, we’re past the childhood and cartoon nostalgia and getting in to some good movies. This movie is the first obvious re-boot of a Disney cartoon, and despite it having some not so good moments, it is really a great story and subtly tells not a better story, but a different and good story of Sleeping Beauty. Angelina Jolie was born to play Maleficent (big lips, sharp jaw and all) and is the best part of this movie. This makes me incredibly hopeful that Cinderella will be every bit as good and even better than this movie.
1) V For Vendetta
You did it! You made it to #1 on my list and easily one of the best movies ever based on a comic or cartoon (not including superhero movies). Based on the graphic novel (aka comic book for serious people) from the 80’s by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta has essentially everything you could hope for in a live-action adaptation. Great performances, a great screenplay (by The Wachowskis), unique and beautiful visuals, and some thoughtful themes and a profound message. This movie was the The Dark Knight, tonally, before there was The Dark Knight. A story about anarchy and fascism (see, it’s totally The Dark Knight) and the conflict between those two ideologies, it really is a great movie and you need to see it.