Original “Little Mermaid ”director criticizes live action adaptation: 'Live animals in a zoo have more expression'

"They didn’t play up the father-daughter story, and that was the heart of the movie," says director John Musker.

For director and animator John Musker, the seaweed isn't necessarily greener in somebody else's lake.

The Disney legend has some issues with Disney's new live action adaptations, particularly their take on The Little Mermaid. Musker has an iconic list of Disney credits to his name, having co-directed The Great Mouse Detective, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Hercules, The Princess and the Frog, and Moana with Ron Clements.

But Musker thinks the new takes have lost the plot a bit. "I think there was a question even with The Little Mermaid," he told Spanish outlet El Pais. "They didn’t play up the father-daughter story, and that was the heart of the movie, in a way."

original “little mermaid ”director criticizes live action adaptation: 'live animals in a zoo have more expression'

Photo courtesy of Disney Sebastian the Crab in 'The Little Mermaid'

Additionally, he found the animation of the animal characters wanting. "The crab — you could look at live animals in a zoo and they have more expression, like with The Lion King," Musker complained. "That’s one of the basic things about Disney, is the appeal. That’s what animation does best."

He chalked the issues up to the studio's fear of taking risks. "Companies are always like, ‘How do we reduce our risk?'" he mused. "'They like this, right? We’ll just do it again and sell it to them in a different form.’ Or they think, ‘Well, we could make it better.'"

He revealed that after the success of Toy Story, Disney briefly considered remaking all of their classic animated films with digital animation.

original “little mermaid ”director criticizes live action adaptation: 'live animals in a zoo have more expression'

Giles Keyte/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett Collection Jonah Hauer-King and Halle Bailey in 'The Little Mermaid'

Musker also took issue with what he perceives as more message-driven storytelling at Disney, noting that criticisms that Disney's first Black princess, Tiana, was "woke" might have contributed to the film's somewhat tepid reception.

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"We weren’t trying to be woke, although I understand the criticism," he said. "The classic Disney films didn’t start out trying to have a message. They wanted you to get involved in the characters and the story and the world, and I think that’s still the heart of it. You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling."

He also urged Disney to return to a story first model in their films, saying, "I think they need to do a course correction a bit in terms of putting the message secondary, behind entertainment and compelling story and engaging characters."

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.

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