When remaking a classic, withstanding the inevitable comparisons requires either flawless execution or inspired novelty. Disney’s latest live-action adaptation has an even greater challenge, as it must compete with two masterpieces: the studio’s own animated feature from 1991, and Jean Cocteau’s magnificent romantic fantasy La Belle et la Bête (1946). And though this iteration of the story pays ample homage to both of these predecessors, minor blemishes and stylistic issues prevent the remake from reaching the same heights. Still, a film should not be judged worthless if it fails to equal titans. Beauty and the Beast does a great deal right; it simply doesn’t replicate the Earth-shattering experience of its ancestors.
Though Disney’s live-action adaptations of their traditional animated stories have been a mixed bag so far, Jon Favreau and company have delivered a surprising gem in The Jungle Book. Like other adaptations, this film is certainly a re-make of the original and contains many of the same thematic elements, but some unique nuances add a great deal to the overall quality of the film. Though the movie is not without its faults, it is vastly superior to the animated version from 1967 in almost every way: it has a stronger sense of character development, a more coherent plot-theme, and even sports higher-quality animation. This is hands-down the best of Disney’s recent live-action adaptations.