Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sequel and Remake Culture

I don't even know where to begin with this post.  I've had this on the "blog post ideas" list since day one and think it's time to stop putting it off.  These days I personally feel bombarded by the number of movies that get sequels, multiple sequels, prequels, backstories, or remakes.  I find it hard to be unbiased by this because I am a strong believer of celebrating a good thing by leaving it alone.  However, I know this is not the popular belief.  When I hear that a movie is getting a sequel/remake I immediately cringe while the rest of the world rejoices.  It should also be said that I do occasionally enjoy the way a sequel is done every now and then.  But it's the fact that they are so predominant in our society that they are beginning to be expected, that I'm here to address.  It's the walking out of the theater and saying "Wow, I can't wait for the next one!" instead of perhaps "Wow, I can't wait to see that again and again!"

Disney has been a part of this trend since the 90's when they started mass producing direct-to-home-video sequels to their classic animated features.  It can be agreed that most of these turned out quite mediocre and have since been kind of pushed under the rug.  However Disney sequels were not always a thing, as we all know Walt would rather work on the next big thing than linger on a sequel.  But I think that sort of thinking has long gone, and now Disney is one of the best examples of sequel/remake culture in films.  

First off, Oz The Great and Powerful, as I'm sure you've heard, is a backstory of the classic film The Wizard of Oz.  This is also not the first backstory of Oz, as Wicked accomplished that already.  Do we need backstories to every character in a classic film? You know my answer.

A sequel for Finding Nemo and Monsters University, a prequel to Monsters Inc., has been announced as well, to accompany the Pixar sequels of Toy Story and Cars. 

Then there is the Pirates of the Carribbean line of films, which has announced its 5th movie starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.  (For me Pirates ended with the 3rd as we lost some of the series' most likable characters).

Moving along we address the Marvel universe, which is also Disney owned, and you've got Iron Man 2 and 3, Captain America 2, Thor 2, and The Avengers 2 either out or being released in the near future.  It's unclear how many sequels this franchise will pump out because the end seems nowhere in sight.

And then of course Disney just acquired LucasFilm and immediately announced the continuation of the Star Wars series, starting with a seventh movie.

Let's talk about some remakes.  Disney has since made revamped versions of a few of their older classics, Flubber, The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and The Shaggy Dog among them.  

Double trouble! A sequel and a remake!

There is also the Tim Burton directed live action Alice in Wonderland, The Lone Ranger remake, and a live action backstory to Sleeping Beauty called Maleficent to come out in the future.

I could go on regarding other studios' involvement in the sequel and remake culture of today but decided to stick with Disney.  I also realize sequels and remakes have been happening for quite a while and aren't a new concept, but as I said before it's the phenomenon of expectation that I'm speaking of. 

I'm very open to comments on this.  I love hearing other points of view or examples even though I'm clearly biased :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Social Status Movement in Disney Films

Disney movies, usually fairytales, tend to follow a certain cliche theme. Boy saves girl. This is an overly simplistic explanation for boy, in a higher position than girl, falls in love with girl and brings her to his level through marriage, thus elevating her social/financial status and saving her from her previous position.  Think about a well-known Disney fairytale adaption and it probably goes this way.  I outlined the ones I could think of and whatever trend it follows below.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves: Prince saves Snow from her curse and through love from her recent peasant status.
Bambi: Could be argued, Bambi is Prince of the Forest and Faline becomes forest royalty (raised status) when she bears his fawns.
Cinderella: Prince saves Cinderella from an abusive home and a low status when they fall in love and he marries her.
Lady in the Tramp: (Opposite!) Lady saves Tramp from a life on the streets when they fall in love and her owners adopt him into their big fancy home.
Sleeping Beauty: Prince Philip saves Aurora from Maleficent's spell and although she is rightfully a princess, when they first fall in love she is living a peasant life. They both remain royalty.
The Little Mermaid: (Tricky) Prince Eric saves Ariel from Ursula but she goes from princess of the seas to human princess. Elevated status in her eyes but technically a horizontal move.
Beauty and the Beast: Beast saves Belle and through love the spell is broken. She is saved from her peasant life and becomes a princess.
Aladdin: (Opposite!) Jasmine saves Aladdin from his street rat life, but after he saves her from Jafar.  His status is improved through love.
The Lion King: (Tricky) Nala becomes queen of the Pridelands through Simba (they are betrothed). However, she is not queen until Simba returns and saves their home. We don't really know if she would have ever become queen otherwise.
The Princess and the Frog: Naveen rescues Tiana from her life as a poor waitress struggling to save for her own restaurant, and through love she becomes a princess.
Tangled: (Opposite!): After Rapunzel and Flynn fall in love she discovers she is the lost princess and they get married, saving him from his thieving lower status.
*Wreck-It Ralph: A helpful reader reminded me that boy and girl save each other. Although not through falling in love, both Ralph and Vanellope rise in their respective social statuses with the help of the other.

Also, I only found three movies that followed the opposite trend: girl saves boy.  Meaning, through love the girl in the higher position brings the boy to her status level.  I could only think of three: Lady and the Tramp, Aladdin, and Tangled.

Can you think of any other Disney movies I missed that follow either the common or opposite trend? Some were so tricky I left them off altogether but if you can give me a convincing argument I'd love to hear it!