There is a certain magic about Disney. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, It’s the place of dreams. But movie magic isn’t the only magic Disney is known for. It is renowned for its strategic wizardry. Or would it be more accurate to say that Disney is adept at turning straw into gold repeatedly? One of the features of Disney’s success is consistent rebranding or repackaging of content. The Disney franchise is king in remakes and, even more recently, live-action renderings of their catalog.
There are at least 19 live-action Disney adaptations, with Little Mermaid and Peter and Wendy soon to premiere. So, it wasn’t really news to hear the franchise was discussing yet another adaptation. This time, the feature receiving the polish is none other than Moana. In light of the fact that Frozen dominated at the box office, some fans may wonder why Moana got a movie adaptation before Frozen. Of course, not everyone cares, but there may be several reasons for those who do. But, regarding box office numbers, Moana wasn’t exactly small potatoes. The film is listed as Disney’s fourth-biggest non-Pixar cartoon in North America, behind Zootopia. And that is reason enough to pursue a live-action adaptation.
Moana Live Action: The Announcement
In collaboration with Disney, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced the upcoming adaptation of Moana. A video announcement was used to make the announcement. And it was considered quite emotional and amplified enthusiasm. Johnson has added a bit of extra sweetness by ensuring this adaptation would be faithful to the original. As Collider notes,
“Johnson not only promises that the new adaptation of the film will feature all the characters, songs, and visuals fans love about the film but also confirms that he will reprise the character of Maui himself.”
Considering that bit of compelling news, what do fans want to see in a live-action version?
A Moana Live-Action Needs Consistency
Per Johnson’s announcement, the film is already on the right track. One thing fans want to see is a streamlined feature. And it is well known that fans of Disney are skeptical about remakes, especially when c
haracter changes are involved. One only needs to look at the outrage over the casting of Hallie Bailey as Ariel. So, for many, the current trajectory is fabulous. However, the fan base must not get too carried away, and remember that the aesthetic will not be quite the same. There is always something lost in translation. But what they can look forward to is keeping the spirit intact, which is of utmost importance.
A Moana Live-Action Needs Great VFX: No Subpar CGI
However, only some animation elements are easily translated. And Disney animated features often have personified creatures. In Moana, King crab (Tamatoa) and Ta-fiti are significant parts of the film. This means they must be included. A particularly problematic issue for fans of Mulan was the absence of Mushu in the live-action adaptation. Quite a few fans went wild, disparaging Disney due to the absence of one of their favorite characters. As Newsweek noted, “Some fans of the original 1998 animated Mulan were angered not by what they saw in the trailer for the movie starring Yifei Liu as the title character, but by what they did not see: Their beloved character Mushu, who Eddie Murphy voiced in the original.”
One of the biggest pet peeves of fans is poorly done CGI. The story could be great, and the actors are superb, but fans will complain about bad CGI. And while Disney has been doing this for years with many of their features, they found out how fickle their fan base can be with the release of their She-Hulk trailer. The backlash was so bad that they released another trailer with improved CGI. But if the CGI isn’t horrifying, fans often make allowances.
Moana Live Action: One Final Thing
Consistency and stellar effects are the most critical factors fans desire to see in a live-action adaptation. Of course, in line with the consistency of characterization is also the consistency of the plot. If there aren’t too many alterations, and the overall story arc remains the same, fans will probably be highly receptive to the work. And based on current press releases, one of the biggest things is already taken care of. Viewers get the original people that personify Maui and Moana. However, the following cautionary note is needed. Seeing Johnson in live-action as Maui may take people out of the story, giving the film a less-than-stellar reception. This is because Johnson has become so larger than life in other roles. People may see Black Adam, Scorpion King, or some other character Johnson has portrayed rather than Maui. And that is not a good thing.
Moana is still in its infant stages, with no definitive release date. But that will only fuel anticipation for fans of Moana and her heart of Ta-fiti.