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Into the Woods – Out Today – Disney’s best live-action films of all time

09 January 2015

When one thinks of Disney films, Mickey, Simba, and Snow White animated images often come to mind. However, Disney’s portfolio of live action films is just as impressive. Since the very first Disney live-action film in 1950: Treasure Island, the company has created fantastic live-action films that are just as magical as their cartoon cousins.

The upcoming musical INTO THE WOODS is Disney’s latest live-action endeavour, and shows a slightly darker take on classic fairy tales. In celebration of the film’s release, we take a look back at some of Disney’s best live-action films of all time...


Academy Award nominee Amy Adams stars as princess Giselle, who is thrust from her home in the animated world of Andalasia and onto the streets of modern-day New York City by an evil queen. The impressive cast includes the likes of Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Susan Sarandon, and Idina Menzel. The film is a self-parody of Walt Disney animated classics, and is quite witty and heart-warming. Adams plays the naïve and optimistic princess character effortlessly, and shows off her singing skills with original songs like “That’s How You Know.” The film was both a box office and critical success, and garnered two Golden Globe and three Academy Award nominations.


This film’s storyline is so good that Disney decided to make it twice! In 1998 Disney created a reboot of The Parent Trap (1961 film) starring Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson. The film centres on twins who were separated when they were very young, but re-connect at summer camp and decide to try and get their parents back together. Lohan, in her breakout role, plays both twins Hallie and Annie adorably as they attempt to manipulate their family. This romantic comedy is a film that anyone can enjoy.


Mary Poppins is one of Disney’s most iconic films of all time. Starring Hollywood royalty Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, the film is based on the best-selling book series of the same name. It follows the story of a magic nanny who comes to work for a cold banker’s unhappy family. The film won five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” The film even inspired the creation of another Disney film in 2013 called Saving Mr. Banks, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, which centred on the creation of the Mary Poppins film and the true story behind it.


The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is one of Disney’s most successful live-action endeavours: inspiring four sequels and a fifth which is currently in production! The first three films star Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Johnny Depp as the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow. These pirate-fantasy films are filled with action and amazing visual effects. The franchise actually originated with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride in Disneyland in 1961 and is now the eighth highest grossing film series of all time. The first three films were nominated for a whopping eleven Academy Awards, winning one: Achievement in Visual Effects for the second film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dean Man’s Chest.


Angelina Jolie brings a dark re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty to life in this 2014 live-action film. Jolie plays a perfect vengeful villain as the queen fairy of the Moors (Maleficent.) The film follows her perspective as she interacts with Princess Aurora (played by Elle Fanning.) The film was a huge box office success worldwide, and is the third highest-grossing film of 2014. The film blurs the line between good and evil, and gives a twist on a classic tale.


Many of Disney’s live-action films are inspiring sports stories, but nothing quite compares to the incredibly moving 2000 film Remember the Titans. Starring Denzel Washington and Will Patton, this true story follows a newly appointed African American football coach during his high school team’s first season as a racially integrated unit. The film is a tear-jerker that addresses racial issues head on, also serves as an inspiring story of brotherhood and team work.  Be sure to look out for Donald Faison, Hayden Panettiere, Kate Bosworth and Ryan Gosling in some of their first roles ever!


Disney’s latest live-action film brings Stephen Sondheim’s original musical of the same name to life. It tells an original story of a Baker and his wife who have a curse thrust upon them while intertwining some of our favourite fairytales: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk. The film stars Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick, James Corden and Emily Blunt, as well as a group of promising newcomers with musical backgrounds. The film will not disappoint in bringing animated Disney magic to its live portrayal.

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