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THE B-LIST: Hey, Disney: THESE are the live-action films we really need!

Forget the princesses and animals

It’s inevitable that Disney will continue to remake its animated classics — but here are a few that deserve the live-action treatment.
It’s inevitable that Disney will continue to remake its animated classics — but here are a few that deserve the live-action treatment.

Last week, the internet lost its collective mind over the first trailer for Disney's "live-action" remake of "The Lion King."

I use those quotation marks with the utmost sarcasm. Every character in the film is a CGI animal. There's nothing live about it.

As someone who grew up during the Disney Renaissance — the period from 1989's "The Little Mermaid" to 1999's "Tarzan" — I should be wallowing in ecstatic nostalgia right now.

After all, I practically wore out my VHS of "The Lion King." I had the soundtrack on a cassette tape, and my grade school class sang "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" at a year-end talent show. I owned "Lion King" stuffed animals and books and pajamas.

Like everyone, I enjoy revisiting those childhood touchstones that once meant so much to me.

But I refuse to play into Disney's cheap ploy for nostalgia money. "The Lion King" never needed a CGI-heavy adapt. None of the animal-centric movies do. And the fact that they're billing it as a "live-action" remake rankles. I'm going to be obstinately salty about this one.

(Sidenote: This also goes for Tim Burton's forthcoming "Dumbo." Yet another utterly unnecessary remake absolutely no one asked for.)

That said, since Disney will go full steam ahead with these animated remakes, there are still plenty of films in their stable that I'd be more than happy to see ACTUAL live-action takes of. Like:

6. "THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE." The South American setting and Incan trappings of this story would make for some glorious costumes and visuals, not to mention a chance to cast some unknown Peruvian actors (yay, diversity opportunity!). It's frankly impossible to top the glorious Eartha Kitt as Yzma, but I'd love to see the buddy dynamic of Kuzco and Pacha play out between actual actors. And, alright, a bit of CGI would be acceptable for the llama version of Kuzco and various animal transformations at the end. But only a bit.

5. "LILO & STITCH." Actually film in Hawaii — one of the most beautiful places on Earth — and cast actual Hawaiian actors in the central roles — in a couple years Auli’i Cravalho will be the right age for Nani — and we're already halfway to a fantastic film. I love realistic depictions of sibling relationships, and Nani and Lilo's is refreshingly honest in its dysfunctionality. Throw in some nifty alien designs, using practical effects and prosthetics when possible, and blam!

4. "THE BLACK CAULDRON." Talk about a woefully underappreciated film! This surprisingly dark, Welsh-flavored high fantasy outing about farmboy Taran, the oracular pig Hen Wen and Princess Eilonwy bombed horrifically upon release and deserves to be re-evaluated. A live-action adapt done right would be ideal, something like "Willow" with the polish — but not the traumatic, thematic issues — of "Game of Thrones."

3. "HERCULES." Sure, the Hercules myths have been adapted countless times already. But this (albeit highly inaccurate) take on the legendary strongman is awfully charming — and handsome actor Armie Hammer is perfect for the titular role. So long as you get an equally perfect Hades, someone who embodies that oily used car salesman vibe, and a snarky gal for femme fatale/love interest Megara, you're set. Heck, you could even keep Danny DeVito for Phil(octetes).

2. "TREASURE PLANET." Gosh, but this movie is gorgeous. Seriously: Go and watch it right now. Savor those rich colors, amazing space-scapes and wild alien designs. I love whenever a classic story is updated and thrown into an entirely new setting, and pirates — in space! — is always a fun riff. Cast a charming young guy like Tom Holland in the Jim Hawkins role, use plenty of nifty prostethics and make-up for cyborg Long John Silver, get Daft Punk to do a futuristic soundtrack, go all out on the visuals for jewel-toned alien planets — and you'd have something 20 times better than "Avatar."

1. "ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE." I'm never, ever going to stop screaming about how great this criminally underrated film is. The male hero is a gangly linguistics dork; the female hero/love interest is an awesome warrior woman. It's Edwardian steampunk with a diverse cast of kooky characters that play neatly into my favorite of tropes: The Found Family. Atlantis itself is magical and tragic. They created AN ACTUAL LANGUAGE for this film! Ugh. What I wouldn't give to see a live-action version of this (with Cole Sprouse as hero Milo, Terry Crews as Dr. Sweet and Dan Fogler as Moliere, for sure).

• ANGIE BARRY is a page designer and columnist for The Times. To suggest future topics for The B-List, which covers pop culture, history and literature, contact her at

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