Live-Action Princess News

As unenthusiastic as most princess fans are about live-action remakes, Disney continues to pump them out. By the end of the next decade, most of our favorite princess movies from the '90s will have live-action counterparts for better or worse. Over the summer, several casting announcements were made about the Aladdin remake. Right now, the spotlight is on the upcoming remake of Mulan with the recent announcement that she will be played by Chinese actress Liu Yifei. This came as a relief to many after a controversy from last year in which people assumed that the movie would be whitewashed based on a leaked spec script that gave the role of the lead character to a male white merchant instead of the fabled Chinese heroine. The rumors of the script being used for the film were quickly debunked, reassuring fans that Mulan would always be the protagonist of her own movie. Though not a princess by title, Mulan is considered an official Disney Princess, which makes her actress a pretty significant decision among princess fans.

Being that I am more familiar with voice actors in animation than screen actors, it probably doesn't come as much of a surprise that I was not familiar with Yifei's line of work before the announcement was made. However, some light research shows that she is extremely talented, having starred in many American and Chinese films. She speak's both countries' languages fluently and has a lovely singing voice. Her princess-like nicknames are "fairy sister" and "Crystal Liu." From the little I've seen so far, I already think she's a better casting choice than Emma Watson as Belle. Though Disney claims that the remake will not be a musical, fans are already questioning this due to Yifei's well-known singing ability. Since Mulan has some of the strongest songs in any Disney movie, it would be lovely to hear them performed by a native Chinese speaker. At the very least, it would certainly beat Christina Aguilera's version.

Mulan's casting wasn't the only princess news this week. It was also recently announced that Disney has hand-picked Rob Marshall to direct their live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Marshall has a history of directing movies based on Broadway musicals, including Chicago and Into the Woods, so it's fitting that he would direct a movie that takes place in such a music-based environment as Atlantica. I've enjoyed many of the movies he's worked on in the past, so I'm happy with the decision to have him take on the adaptation of my favorite Disney movie. I'm not a big fan of Lin Manuel-Miranda working with Alan Menken on the new songs, though. I personally think that Alan Menken has all of the talent and that Lin Manuel-Miranda is overrated. Besides, they have plenty of extra songs to choose from on the 2007 Broadway musical soundtrack.

Speaking of Broadway, Christy Altomare, who plays the newest incarnation of Anastasia on the Great White Way, recently gave a live performance of "Journey to the Past" in front of projected images of the classic 1997 Don Bluth film to celebrate the movie's 20th anniversary. This emotional power ballad will be remembered alongside some of the greatest princess songs of all time thanks to the enormous impact it had on so many children who grew up in the '90s. It is every bit as beautiful as any Disney song, and Christy has a voice that rivals its original singer, Liz Callaway. It's great to see that the Broadway production honored the original animated film in such a charming way.

In less exciting live-action princess news, ABC's Once Upon a Time revealed the true backstory of their second incarnation of Rapunzel in tonight's episode. I'm not going to post another rant about the show because I realize they all start to sound the same after a while, but I will say that I was even less pleased with the real backstory than I was with the fake one. Not only is Rapunzel no longer a princess through birth or marriage in the context of Once Upon a Time, but her magical hair lasted for about 30 seconds of screen time and served very little purpose. This version of her story could not possibly be further from the original tale. I'd like to say that I was surprised by the curveball they threw at us, but it was so forced that it could not be seen as a clever twist because it was obviously only done for shock value.

In addition to all of this of this princess news that will follow us into 2018, I leave you with one final announcement. It appears that the castle centerpiece at Hong Kong Disneyland is getting a big makeover. Soon, it will more closely resemble Rapunzel's castle than Sleeping Beauty's and will contain icons of many different Disney Princesses, including Snow White's apple, Belle's rose, and Cinderella's coach. I love the way the castles in all of the Disney Parks look, especially during the holidays, so I am eager to see this new magical princess transformation. Speaking of holidays, it was also recently announced that the new Frozen short, "Olaf's Frozen Adventure," will air on ABC next Thursday, so fans no longer have to worry about missing it before screenings of Coco.


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