Calling the buzz surrounding this week's almost-certain blockbuster "tepid" might not be quite fair; scoring in the high sixties and low seventies on "Rotten Tomatoes" is slightly better than tepid, I suppose; closer to "fair" than to "middlin'." But a couple of pieces by my cinematic bellwethers have lead me to suspect that this might well be the first of Disney's recent "LARoPAM's" that stumbles—mostly as a result of its slavishness, sounds like. ("Live-Action Remake of Previously-Animated Material," for those who are keeping score. Also, why are you keeping score, exactly?)
Rather than riskily LARoPAM'ing at the theater this weekend, you could watch Pete's Dragon, thanks to NETFLIX INSTANT. It's really more of a re-imagining than a remake, but director David Lowery's creation is much gentler and sweeter and effective than you might expect. There's a song-like (almost mystical) mood to the film that I really loved, and as a metaphor for recognizing (and embracing) the importance of wonder in our lives, it was spot-on.
The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.
Alternatively, you could watch The Jungle Book, thanks to NETFLIX INSTANT. It's more re-make-y than re-imagined, in my opinion—the musical cues in the trailers make that approach obvious—but the technical accomplishments it brings to the table are impressive enough to insulate it a bit from "slavish" criticisms, at least in my book. (Also, Idris Elba. I rest my case.)
After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub named Mowgli embarks on a journey of self discovery with the help of panther, Bagheera, and free spirited bear, Baloo.
If you do watch Beauty and the Beast, be sure to let me know what you think. I'm willing to be persuaded to a contrary position, though the incredibly Uncanny Valley-ness of the Beast in the trailers I've seen so far do not fill me with hope. (I agree that he looks "monstrous," but I don't think that's quite the meaning of "monstrous" they wanted.)
An adaptation of the Disney fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.