The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

Downfall of Disney

TRL’s Sarah Hibberd critiques Disney’s recent cinematics shortcomings
Ryann Daugherty
TRL’s Sarah Hibberd addresses that the classic Disney movies we grew up watching seem to have been the peak for Disney. Newer Disney movies and shows are not as popular and less successful.

It’s no secret Walt Disney Studios has been cranking out the remakes for the past five years, releasing what they could only hope to be future classics. But let’s point out the obvious; Disney’s recent productions have entirely missed the mark, sacrificing quantity for quality. 

Disney has been active for nearly a century. Its iridescent image has persisted for years, but as of late, it’s gained a slight tint of artificiality and lack of devotion. As just one of the millions of 2000’s babies, we’ve seen and fallen in love with Disney’s productions. Disney enthusiasts know the drill, know the feeling and we can sense when the charm has dissolved. Disney has woven lyrics on my heart and tattooed fairytales on my brain. After all these years, I have something to offer it back: constructive criticism. 

At the core of its recent defections lies the tenacious decision to continue live-action remakes, the majority of which are not particularly impressive, nor do they match up to the magic behind the originals. The recent “Aladdin” (2019) and “The Lion King” (2019) remakes have landed below the bar. 

Both “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” scored below 60 percent on the Tomatometer, officially deeming their productions as “rotten” by critics. “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” had tremendous potential, as all remakes do. The classics are magical, action-packed and musical, with intriguing settings, characters and atmospheres. If delivering the casting, costuming and melodies, among other factors, inaccurately, the whole film begins to crumble. “Aladdin” is watchable but far from fabulous. Actors Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Jasmine) and Will Smith (Genie) performed very well in the soundtrack, making it unfortunate that Massoud and Scott’s performance appeared to lack experience and believability. The indigenous costuming for the film was pleasing, but the cheap presentation and colorful overkill sabotaged the realistic yet magical nature the film was aiming for. It’s vital to pay credit to technological advancements such as computer-generated imagery (CGI), which have come so far in such a short duration of time. However, the CGI in “Aladdin” became inconsistent; at times, the Genie (Will Smith) appeared artificial but seemed hyper-realistic in the following scene. Had the producers of “Aladdin” spent more time and effort on the film, it would have come much closer to the original. 

Unlike “Aladdin”, the voice acting of “The Lion King” would determine its performance. No remake can ever match up to the enchantment and authenticity of the originals. Yet, recent films such as “Cinderella” (2015) and “Beauty and the Beast” (2017, through the brilliant casting of Emma Watson (Belle) and Lily James (Ella), have proven it’s possible for the soundtracks and acting to deliver the magic. However, instead of relying on the quality of acting, the cast of “The Lion King” is loaded with unsuitable celebrity voice actors. For whatever reason, Disney scratched Timon’s iconic Brooklyn accent and replaced it with Billy Eichner’s semi-sarcastic reproduction. Seth Rogen’s attempt at Pumba’s deep, raspy voice is sincere but remains off. Zazu’s British accent is majorly flawed, and contrary to public opinion, Beyoncé’s version of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” strays too far from the original. While it’s understandable word-for-word reciting can be tiring, the script of “The Lion King” is foreign to the unique Disney touch, and its casting sealed its defeat. The celebrity abundance in “The Lion King” could be Disney’s attempt at gaining immense income, recruiting “big movie” stars or a combination of both. Either way, among seeing Beyoncé, Donald Glover, Seth Rogan and Chance the Rapper in the casting, it wouldn’t be out of line to assume the remake is solely for the money. Instead of exerting too much effort into finding celebrity actors, Disney should prioritize the deliverance of its classic characters. 

Another unfortunate mishap is Disney’s recent departure from traditional animation. Now, now, I recognize even Rotten Tomatoes can’t back me up on this one. While I loved the storyline behind “Luca” (2021), I must say the peculiar animation was deeply disappointing. The life-like scenery contrasted with the disproportionately cartoonish characters may not bother a toddler but may very well scare older watchers away. Much of Disney’s charm arises from its unique contrast between cartoons and vivid depictions; this contrast has existed since its first official film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” With that said, the skillfully mastered equilibrium was well-maintained until “Luca.” Luca, Alberto and Giulia’s big-eyed, round-head appearance may seem cute, but they would be much better suited if they looked like normal children. 

Ultimately, we arrive at the most contentious of topics: sequels. Before you remind me of the disastrous “Mulan II” and “Cinderella II,” blaming sequel flops on the inability to match up to the original, may I remind you of “Incredibles II,” “Finding Dory” and “Monster’s University.” Two of the three are arguably better than the original, and two were also in production for 13 and 14 years. Creating a successful sequel is far from impossible, but a lack of dedication and story-planning dooms every sequel. While “Frozen II” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” received mixed reviews, the one movie I’d like to focus on is the mess of “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” The beginning of the film began on a good note. The predictability of life and the need for individuality makes Vanellope a relatable character. Unfortunately, the movie took a turn for the worse. The fascination with internet exploration eventually died down, and the climax of the film was surprisingly disturbing. Somehow, a giant antagonist Ralph made from an enormous lump of multiple Ralphs is not the ideal villain combat we hoped it would be. The well-praised princess rescue scene was messy, tacky. Felix and Calhoun, two beloved and prominent characters, were missing for the entire movie. The plot is heartfelt, but the turn of events was a miss. 

With an admirable reputation and widespread influence, Disney should have no shortage of power to produce quality, memorable new films. Because Walt Disney himself isn’t around anymore, it’s the job of every producer to preserve the charm he left behind. No matter the monetary cost, the crunch of time, the scarcity of actors or the scream of popular demand, the magical studio I know didn’t come this far to disappoint. Disney, I’d hate to witness your downfall. 

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About the Contributors
Sarah Hibberd
Sarah Hibberd, Editor-In-Chief
All good things must come to an end, but what about great things? Although she’s approaching the end of her high school career, senior Sarah Hibberd is confident her TRL adventures will last a lifetime. With one year left to make her mark, Sarah returns as an over-optimistic Editor-In-Chief eager to maintain The Red Ledger's multi-award-winning legacy. When out of the newsroom, you may find her in scrubs working towards her pharmacy technician certification, stressing over the application process or gushing over her haircare regimen. Sarah is a proud member of HOSA, the Helping Hands Club, and the National Honor Society. As a victim of the baby fever phenomenon and an aspiring healthcare professional, Sarah will stop at nothing to work with tiny humans in the NICU; she believes in speaking for those who can't speak for themselves. She loves Novo Amor music, smelling candles, making lists and laughing with family. Though fiercely independent, Sarah dreads the thought of leaving home, driving her to make this year one for the books.
Ryann Daugherty
Ryann Daugherty, Graphics Editor
Beginning her fourth and final year on staff, senior Ryann Daugherty is excited about being Graphics Co-Editor. When she’s not in the newsroom, Daugherty can often be found on stand at the Lifetime pool, hanging out with her friends and drinking lots of coffee. Daugherty loves to travel and her most recent destination was the Dominican Republic where a week felt like hours. Although she spends lots of time now stressing over college applications, Daugherty still manages to be involved in numerous extracurricular activities. She is a two-year letterman for the discus, as well as vice president of the anti-bullying club, and an active member of the movie club, organic permaculture club, animals for action club and Key Club. Although she struggles with crippling anxiety, Daugherty is ironically content with the thought of setting off on her own and hopes for a fantastic final year of TRL.

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