5 live-action remakes of Disney classics that give the originals a run for their money

As Emma Watson waltzes onto the big screen in Beauty and the Beast, we pick our favourite live-action versions of Disney films.

Last updated: 16 March 2017 - 10.50am

Disney may have made its name with cartoons, but the iconic studio can produce live-action movies that are just as full of magic. As Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, hits cinemas, we pick five of the best live-action versions of cartoons the studio has made – so far…

1. Pete’s Dragon

The 1977 cartoon version was cuddly, but this remake from indie thriller Ain’t Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery puts an altogether different spin on the story. Pete, orphaned in a car crash, survives in the forest alone for six years, befriended by his very own dragon, Elliot. Then some well-meaning adults find him and start screwing things up. An impressive cast, including Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford, make this a movie both magical and bittersweet, and one that deserves to be as well-known as Disney’s more famous franchises. Available to buy from BT TV Store.

2. The Jungle Book

The worried gasp of die-hard fans was almost audible when Disney announced it was remaking this children’s classic. But a generation who grew up with Mowgli and Baloo were bewitched by director Jon Favreau’s take, which stays closer to the original Kipling storyline. The voices of Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson and Lupita Nyong’o brought the jungle alive. Available to buy from BT TV Store.

3. Cinderella

That Kenneth Branagh wasn’t all grown-up Shakespeare and period drama was proven by his fun-packed Thor, but we still didn’t know what to expect from his version of Cinderella, one of Disney’s most enduring animations. The director chose not to go all post-modern on us, and stuck to the original’s sweet and sentimental story, with Lily James pretty as a picture in her ballgown, complete with pumpkin coach, glass slipper and mouse friends. Available to buy from BT TV Store.

4. Maleficent

Maleficent takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and retells it from the wicked fairy’s point of view. This fresh, feminist perspective on the original Grimm fairytale makes for a thrilling watch, with visually stunning special effects and costumes. However, none of these can overshadow a towering performance by Angelina Jolie, who brings both humanity and supernaturally stunning cheekbones to the lead role. Available to buy from BT TV Store.

5. Alice in Wonderland

Directed by and starring two of Hollywood’s maddest hatters – Tim Burton and Johnny Depp respectively – this film is even crazier than the original cartoon. Burton’s signature kookiness pervades every scene, and the presence of Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Matt Lucas, along with the voices of everyone from Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry to Barbara Windsor and Christopher Lee, makes this film fantastic fun. Available to buy from BT TV Store.

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