The top 10 worst Disney remakes of all time. Honestly, it’s pretty much all of the Disney reboots. These are the remakes that come to my mind when I think of the “worst.” I will not include the 90’s Disney reboots because they just are not as bad. This list will include the new slew of Disney films that have come to fruition during the 2010’s reboot craze. You know, the one that is still happening now.
Sure it is purely a large Hollywood studio that chooses to bank off our childhood nostalgia instead of making new and original content. Honestly, who am I to judge? It is a highly effective formula. Let’s be fair, sometimes bad movies can be just as entertaining as good films, and I’m here to tell you why…kind of. I just wanted to add that it is perfectly fine to enjoy and love these films. Here are the top 10 worst Disney remakes of all time.
10. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
The remake of the original 1991 classic of the same name is not the worst of the worst Disney remakes. Surprisingly it is one of the few I tolerate. Partially because the old Hollywood dance numbers that it hearkens back to were well choreographed, but mostly because the cast made up for everything that takes away from this film. Yes, the screenplay was severely lacking, but that was to be expected. Sure the singing wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either…just overly dubbed.
This is easily the most tolerable film on this list. A few of the great things this film did better than the original was making Belle a stronger, freethinking, inventive, and clever individual for young girls to look up to. The original Belle was weird because she liked to read, and in all other respects, a little bland in comparison. I also think that the additional songs that provided a backstory to the Beast and castle residents were a nice addition. In the end, the only necessary reason to do any reboot is if you are bringing something better and new to the table. This film almost did that.
They had the cast, the brilliant songs from the classic team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, and a few nice tweaks…but that was it. I will admit it is hard for me to dislike this film because it has Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, and Emma Thompson. I love all of them. This film is at number 10 because it makes me feel conflicted with my sensibilities. Don’t get me wrong, it is still pretty bad…but I can tolerate watching it.
9. The Jungle Book (2016)
My love for Bill Murray, Idris Elba, and Ben Kingsley could not save me for my disdain of this film. It honestly shouldn’t really be at number 9. It is only in this position because it is literally the only one of these films that I regretfully paid to see in theaters. Luckily it was at a three-dollar theater, but still. I was simply naive going into this one. I thought there would have been additional Rudyard Kipling elements that would have been added to the story, but there were not. Yes, it is basically a direct remake of the original Disney 1967 classic of the same name.
I guess the confusing thing for me was that I think that Jon Favreau wasn’t completely into that idea either…or maybe he was. I’m not sure where the disconnect was, but just when you think the film will delve deeper into the metaphors of Kipling’s world, you are suddenly hit with a Christopher Walken solo song that you really didn’t see coming. Nor did you feel it was necessary. Also, the screenplay was awful in the sense that it made the actors seem slightly robotic. This is crazy because 98% of them are animated. I can’t blame the child actor for playing Mowgli (Neel Sethi) because it wasn’t just him. I think this film did not really know its tone or what it wanted to be. It’s a studio thing, I guess.
8. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
I do blame this film for the Disney reboots revival. However, it ranks high because it was a different story from the original. As I have mentioned previously, don’t bother with a reboot unless you bring something new and exciting to the table. Was it new? Kind of. Was it exciting? Not at all. However, I can appreciate the attempt. It is also fairly high up here because it had glimpses of how entertaining Tim Burton films can be. The original Disney Alice in Wonderland (1951) was good but tame. I think Burton tried to bring the nuttiness of the Lewis Carrol classic out in a more prominent way. He just didn’t really get there.
The aesthetics and cast were all there, but the story was severely lacking. Maybe if Tim Burton had been more involved in the film’s story, it could have been better…but it was not. This film definitely needed more insanity. When I cry myself to sleep at night over this film, I like to think that maybe his creative freedoms were greatly inhibited. Maybe that is just wishful thinking on my part? Also, I am excluding Through the Looking Glass (2016) because Disney never really made an original version. Plus, it is so awful it isn’t really worth mentioning.
7. Cruella (2021)
The 101 Dalmatians (1961) spinoff…yes. It’s on this list. Should it have been in the number 9 or 10 spots? Maybe. Yet, here we are. Look, the cast was pretty good, and the story was mildly intriguing at best. I think that the best part of this film was the set design, costumes, and soundtrack. It was aesthetically pleasing, and that is literally why critics loved this film. It’s a charming backstory, but I really hate to admit it; I found it very boring. The thing is I love boring films! LOVE THEM! My chief problem was I figured the plot to this one out within the first five minutes. Which was fine, but the intrigue was lost on me.
I made it halfway through the film before I was too bored and had to stop. It took me two weeks to feel motivated enough to bother finishing it. I just found it funny that almost every article I came across thereafter came to the same conclusion that I did. That basically, this film was a Devil Wears Prada heist film. Which is fine, I guess. It’s just odd to come across other reviews that have come to the same conclusion to which you respond to yourself, “Yeah, I was thinking the EXACT same thing.” This alone can tell you how vanilla of an experience it was for me.
There are other heist films that I would rather invest my time in. Oh, and it’s based on a lady with money who uses her money and power to murder puppies…for fashion. I love the riskiness of this film…but I love puppies more. Yes, this Disney reboot is okay because she really “likes” dogs and has a heart of gold. Classic Disney reboot villain film. They made it work, and it’s another flipped villain story. I understand it is a separate retelling. Yet I think that this is one of the worst Disney remakes because it really wasn’t anything special.
6. Cinderella (2015)
As a kid, I liked the 1950 animated classic. As an adult, I just honestly can’t stand the original. Cinderella is the blandest of the Disney princesses next to Ariel, who is the whiniest. I can admit that Lily James added a slight dimension to the title character. Only slight. The only thing I tolerated was Helena Bonham Carter. That’s about it. Oh, Kenneth Branagh is an okay director at best, and I shall die on this hill. Also, this is one of the worst Disney remakes of a not-so-great Disney film. Again, I shall die on this hill.
5. The Lion King (2019)
The original Lion King (1994) scarred me when I was 5 years old. That means it is a masterpiece. To elicit an empathetic response from a 5-year-old who was still depressed about it at school the next morning is a good sign…I think. Anway, James Earl Jones was in it…again. His character was also brutally murdered again. The cast was cool. Sadly I can’t really respect this film for one singular reason. It is a “live-action” animated reboot of an animated film that was just done way better the first time. Counterintuitive, don’t you think? Yes, I know they can’t use real lions. I just did not see a point with this one except the cast. We did not need a Disney reboot of this.
4. Aladdin (2019)
There sure were many duds in 2019; here is another one of the worst Disney remakes of all time. The key problem wasn’t necessarily the cast or the less-than-great musical numbers that wane compared to the original 1992 film of the same name. Sure, this isn’t very objective because this was the first film I saw in theaters at 3 years old. I’m 32, and I still remember sitting in the dark theater, marveling at everything I saw pop up on the screen. It was all new and fresh. The remake isn’t new and fresh.
I think the fact that it had to live up to such a cinematic giant was pretty impossible. The cast wasn’t necessarily bad either. I will argue the director didn’t do a great job getting better performances out of his actors. What is especially funny to me is that Will Smith received a lot of flack due to being constantly compared to the incomparable Robin Williams. The crazy thing is that Smith wasn’t the worst thing about the film. Is it his best? Absolutely not.
The bottom line is this Disney reboot lacked the biggest thing of all while it was trying too hard to surpass the original. It lacked the charisma and charm. The film went wrong because it was trying to go bigger and better, rather than exploring themes and deeper characterization. Sure they touch briefly on these things, but the screenplay was so terrible that it was hard to take any of it seriously. I think the biggest thing where these films fall flat is within the actual storytelling and delivery. This film is a shining example of that. If you have flat writing, you will have flat characters. The original Aladdin and Jasmine characters were both incredibly boring. However, they at least had charisma.
3. Dumbo (2019)
2019…was just not it for Disney reboots. Obviously, we are all aware that Tim Burton needs to keep away from Disney. Although I am sure, it is hard since his animation roots are at Walt Disney Animation Studios. He notably worked in the animation department for The Fox and the Hound (1981) and The Black Cauldron (1985). I honestly expected what I got out of this film. Just a nice big pile of “meh.” I wasn’t honestly a huge fan of the original Dumbo (1941). I basically just thought he was an adorable elephant who gets taken advantage of in the circus industry, which always left me feeling pretty depressed every time I watched it. Was I excited to see Danny DeVito as a ringmaster again? Sure, and the fact that he was teaming up with Michael Keaton again was nice. That was pretty much it for me. I was still sad at the end of this film, for the same reasons and then some. Sad elephants just bum me out. This makes the worst Disney remakes list not just from the execution but the depression.
2. Maleficent (2014)
Interesting idea. Very poor execution. Lame movie all around. Of all the worst Disney remakes, I watched this one more than once to understand why I was not too fond of it. Ultimately it was just an annoying film to me. I appreciated the villain, but Maleficent was just another broody character. A broody character without any layers other than heartbreak and scorn. Yeah, her heartbreak was awful, but so was this film. The corvid man is literally the only reason why I stayed invested. That’s pretty much it. This would easily be in the number one spot for the worst Disney reboot…but one surpasses this.
1. Mulan (2020)
Why am I picking on the Disney reboot of Mulan, you may ask? I loved the original! She was my FAVORITE Disney heroine. The slight that I felt from this reboot is just too great and should have never happened. There is absolutely no excuse on why this film could not have been great. It left a nasty taste, so much so that I rage quit halfway through. Why? Believe it or not, it was not because of the absence of Mushu from the original 1998 film. Actually, I can take him or leave him. He wasn’t the end all be all for me. It wasn’t the absence of the singing numbers either. I understand that they wanted to go for something more “realistic.” Again don’t make a reboot unless you bring something better to the table!
Mulan (2020) had everything. A great cast, a decent female director in Niki Caro (i.e., Whale Rider), beautiful cinematography, and even great settings, etc. All of these things are overshadowed by the fact that they took away all of the things that made the character of Mulan great. The fact that an ordinary girl discovers her own potential and ingenuity by relying on her intelligence and wits and grows to be more than; is what makes us all love her and her story. She is relatable, and she can be any one of us. She fails a lot but overcomes her failure to be so much more. This Mulan, who we were introduced to in the new film, is not her.
She was not just born into being “naturally gifted,” and she did not need magic powers to succeed. Not to mention they forgot to give her a personality in that screenplay too. This was supposed to be a real woman who overcomes stereotypes to save all of China. Mulan (2020) could have been amazing, but of course, it was not. Disney+ also charged $30.00 to watch this disappointment from the comfort of your own living room. For shame, Disney producers, for shame.