In the modern era of live-action remakes of Disney animated classics, there have been nearly twenty big-budget adaptations that have hit both big and small screens. After the success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010, Disney has produced many of these films ranging from Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Dumbo, Aladdin and more.
The latest live-action remake, The Little Mermaid, is making quite a splash at the summer box office. The film, which is generally considered to be one of the better entries in Disney’s live-action remake canon, is finding a pretty sizable audience domestically.
The new version of The Little Mermaid stars pop and R&B singer Halle Bailey as Ariel and was directed by movie musical veteran Rob Marshall. After a strong opening, it’s clear to see that audiences are still hungry for these kinds of live-action remakes, as long as they are done well.
There’s a lot to love about the new version of The Little Mermaid, as it wonderfully recaptures the magic of the original’s best moments while also introducing plenty of welcome changes that make it different enough to warrant seeing. If you saw the new adaptation of The Little Mermaid and loved it, then here are eight films that are definitely worth checking out.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Of course, there are going to be other live-action Disney films on this list. The 2017 adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is one of the best. Similarly to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast builds upon what made the original film so special while also updating the story and adding new elements that are worth loving. Directed by Bill Condon, the new version of Beauty and the Beast stars Harry Potter alum Emma Watson in the lead role of Belle.
The rest of the cast is also full of big-name talents, such as Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Dan Stevens, Josh Gad, Stanley Tucci and more. Plus, the new song “Evermore” that is given to the Beast is one of the best new Disney songs in years.
Into the Woods (2014)
Into the Woods is another live-action fantasy musical from Disney, however, this one is not adapted from one of the studio’s previously animated successes. Instead, the film is an adaptation of the famous Broadway musical by the legendary Stephen Sondheim. The story is directly inspired by a lot of the famous fairy tales that have made Disney famous, with characters like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood playing key roles.
The cast is quite impressive as well, as it stars the likes of Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, James Corden, Johnny Depp, and more. On top of all that, the film is also directed by Rob Marshall and is one of the precursors that convinced Disney to hire him for the live-action The Little Mermaid.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
As one of the few classic Disney animated features that has yet to get a live-action re-telling, The Princess and the Frog is now a bit of a rarity in the Disney vault. The film, which was released in 2009, is the last 2-D animated film that Disney produced, and it has become a staple of modern animation.
By shifting the fairy-tale story of the Frog Prince to take place in 1920s New Orleans, The Princess and the Frog managed to capture and revive the classic “Disney magic” more perfectly than any film had in a long time. While Disney had produced some great films in the 2000s (we love Lilo & Stitch and Atlantis: The Lost Empire), The Princess and the Frog was a true return to form for the studio, and it deserves to be considered among their best.
The live-action adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin was released in 2019, just as this modern trend of remakes was really reaching its peak. In 2019 alone, Disney released new versions of Aladdin, The Lion King, and Dumbo, and Aladdin was certainly the best of the bunch. The casting for the film was spot-on, with Mena Massoud proving to be an excellent choice for Aladdin, Naomi Scott giving a wonderful performance as Jasmine, and Will Smith being an inspired pick for the Genie.
Just as all the best remakes have been, 2019’s Aladdin was made out of a place of love for the original film, while it also brought a lot of new material to the table. It has also been one of the most successful live-action Disney remakes to date, which has led to talks of a potential sequel.
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Written by Beauty and the Beast’s Bill Condon, 2017’s The Greatest Showman is one of the most memorable movie musicals of the last decade. Based (very loosely) on the life of the showman P.T. Barnum, the film is a grand musical about family, love and embracing the things that make a person unique. The film features outstanding music from the songwriting duo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who had previously written the songs for both La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen.
Plus, the cast is absolutely stacked with talents like Hugh Jackman, Zendaya, Zac Efron, Michelle William, Rebecca Ferguson and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. While there is certainly a lot to be said about the film’s misleading depiction of its central character, there’s no denying that the musical numbers are an absolute blast.
The live-action remake of Mulan from 2020 is one of the most forgotten live-action Disney remakes. That is largely because the film was released direct-to-streaming in September 2020, during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s unfortunate because the film is actually a pretty solid retelling of the story of Mulan.
While it does not feature any of the musical numbers of the animated film from 1998, those melodies are interwoven within the film’s score throughout the story. If you’re interested in watching through many of these live-action remakes, it’d be a mistake to leave out Mulan.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Moving in a bit of a different direction, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie is a must-see if you haven’t already, especially if you loved the new The Little Mermaid. That is because a lot of The Little Mermaid’s more adventurous moments are very reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. While there are five films in the Pirates series, the first film is worth checking out all on its own. It’s a fantastic adventure movie that will sweep you up and leave you humming its music for weeks on end.
If you love The Curse of the Black Pearl, then Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End are worth checking out as well. The fourth film, On Stranger Tides, is even directed by The Little Mermaid’s Rob Marshall as well, though admittedly it’s not quite as good as the first three.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Finally, and most obviously, if you loved 2023’s The Little Mermaid, then you absolutely need to revisit the original The Little Mermaid from 1989. If you haven’t seen it already, then you’ll be doing yourself a favor and experiencing a true animated classic that almost single-handedly revived Disney’s domination in animation.
If you’ve seen it before, it’s always worth a revisit. It’s considered a classic for a reason, and it still (mostly) holds up remarkably well today. Plus, it could make for an interesting experience to really see what differences there are between the two films, whether they be minor or major.
In conclusion, this film has captivated audiences with its mesmerizing storytelling, compelling performances, and stunning visuals. It has transported us to worlds both familiar and unknown, evoking a range of emotions that have left a lasting impact. The director’s artistic vision and the collaborative efforts of the cast and crew have brought this story to life in a truly extraordinary way. From the gripping plot twists to the heartfelt moments of connection, this film has reminded us of the power of cinema to inspire, entertain, and provoke thought.
Whether you’re a fan of the genre or simply a lover of great storytelling , this film is not to be missed. It’s a testament to the magic of filmmaking and serves as a reminder of the profound impact that movies can have on our lives. So grab your popcorn, sit back, and immerse yourself in this cinematic masterpiece.