Skip to main content

14 Movie Cartoons To Go Live Action

Aladdin (1992)

The cartoon: Disney's celebrated 1992 Arabian adventure about an urchin aided by Robin Williams' wisecracking genie.

Why Live Action? It's been announced that Atonement 's Joe Wright is set to helm a live action version of Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid , as Disneyfied by by Ron Clements and John Musker's 1989 musical 'toon.

Fair play, but it's Clements and Musker's later collaboration that offers an even more engrossing mix of laughter, danger and toe-tapping songs.

Think Prince of Persia with added guffaws, courtesy of having a supernatural stand-up comedian at its centre. Williams is admittedly a tough act to follow, but how about Tina Fey as a radical alternative?

Dream Director: Andrew Adamson. Having made the transition from Shrek 's gag-filled animation to Narnia 's epic canvas, he's got the chops to pull off the story's mirth and girth.

Perfect Blue (1997)

The cartoon: Satoshi Kon's ever timely psycho-thriller about a pop idol whose attempts to become a serious actress are threatened by her over-zealous fanbase.

Why Live Action? Had things gone according to plan, Perfect Blue would already be a live-action flick, had the Kobe earthquake not forced a rethink.

It isn't hard to see that the material would still work in its original context: a slasher movie bursting with Freudian subtexts and celebrity satire.

Dream Director: Quentin Tarantino, who would be happy as a pig in muck out-shocking his beloved Brian De Palma with a series of elaborate kill scenes.

Wizards (1977)

The cartoon: Ralph Bakshi's cult curio, a post-hippie epic about magicians, led by a wizard called Avatar , battling against technological oppression to protect the natural world. Yes, really.

Why Live Action? Budgetary limitations hampered Bakshi's vision, but - as with his later The Lord of the Rings - there's real scope here for a full-blown sourcery epic.

Better still, Bakshi's dark-toned edges (the baddies cow their oppponents into submission with morale-sapping footage of Hitler) would create some utterly beserk set-pieces.

Dream Director: Paul Greengrass, who could give the action the kick up the arse it needs without losing the politics.

Fantastic Planet (1973)

The cartoon: Rene Laloux and Roland Topor's surreal sci-fi allegory about the persecution of the humanoid Oms by the blue-skinned giant Draags.

Why Live Action? Blue-skinned giants, eh? Well, the technology certainly exists to render the Draags plausibly.

But a mo-capped remake wouldn't be a mere Avatar knock-off; arguably, it could eclipse it with its acid-fried imagery, menagerie of weird beasties and subtler take on revolution.

Dream Director: Guillermo Del Toro, perhaps the only director who could do justice to the toybox of Laloux and Topor's imagination.

Vampire Hunter D (1985)

The cartoon: Toyoo Ashida's ground-breaking anime about the eponymous D, a half-vampire, half-human hired to protect a teenage girl from arch bloodsucker Count Magnus Lee.

Why Live Action? Sod Twilight and its mopey emo-vamp. Here's an all-action spectacular blending Hammer horror, Western iconography and post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Which should keep everybody happy.

Dream Director: Zack Snyder, the go-to guy for turning line drawings into kinetic greenscreen cinema.

When The Wind Blows (1986)

The Cartoon: British gritty realism meets hand-drawn disaster, as an elderly couple succumb to the after-effects of a nuclear explosion.

Why Live Action? It's an unsparingly moving study of love in the face of adversity, whose emotional kick easily transcends its Cold War trappings.

Given a brave enough cast (ideal choices: Jim Broadbent and Judi Dench) and an unflinching director, it could eclipse Brief Encounter as Blighty's greatest weepie.

Dream Director: Darren Aronofsky, combining the horror of Requiem For A Dream, the tenderness of The Fountain and the naturalism of The Wrestler .

The Sword In The Stone (1963)

The Cartoon: Disney's tale of Wart, the boy destined to become King Arthur under the tutelage of mad magician Merlin.

Why Live Action? After Robin Hood , King Arthur is surely the next English legend due an origins story.

Besides, after the grubby boredom of Clive Owen's version, it's a chance to bring some of the magic back to Camelot.

Dream Director: Danny Boyle, whose irrepressible handling of child actors and fleet-footed visual style are unlikely to get bogged down in the medieval mud.

Heavy Metal (1981)

The Cartoon: A compendium of weird 'n' wild shorts from the eponymous cult magazine, mixing sci-fi, drug addiction and robot sex.

Why Live Action? An animated updated, stewarded by David Fincher, has long been mooted, but should Fincher get directing duties on Hollywood's remakes of the Millennium trilogy, it's likely to get stuck in development hell.

If Fincher can't do it, let's throw caution to the wind and let a load of hyper-enthusiastic helmers loose on a live-action version.

Dream Directors: Anybody who's anybody, but Edgar Wright, Michel Gondry, Robert Rodriguez and - yes - Fincher should all contribute.

Porco Rosso (1992)

The Cartoon: Hayao Miyazaki's porcine adventure about a pig-faced figher pilot battling air pirates in the Adriatic.

Why Live Action? It seems sacrilege to attempt to better any of Miyazaki's work, but of all of his films Porco Rosso lends itself to conventional filming.

It's a more-or-less straight tale of derring-do, with Indiana Jones -style period swagger, romance and aerial duel set-pieces galore.

The catch: the hero has the face of a pig, a surreal masterstroke that will stand out even more in live-action.

Dream Director: Spike Jonze, a man whose grasp of mixing the whimsically off-kilter with the commonplace is unrivalled.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

The Cartoon: Disney's first full-length animation. You know. Talking mirrors. Poisoned apples. Hiiii-Ho.

Why Live Action? Somewhat untouchable, the film has never had a straight, big-budget makeover. The nearest we've got is the dark-honed curio Snow White: A Tale of Terror .

But after Alice in Wonderland , surely it's the next Disney due a multiplex makeover?

Dream Director: Tim Burton? Too obvious. Let's see what Alfonso Cuaron can do with it. He has a decent track record of making smart, coherent and unpatronising kids' films.

Belleville Rendez-Vous (2003)

The Cartoon: Sylvain Chomet's timeless, Tati-esque charmer about kidnapped cyclists and music-hall performers.

Why Live Action? The 'toon version looks like nothing else around, and that would go double for a filmed take.

The challenge would be to maintain its eccentric, childlike humour, but the pay-off would be a comedy content to tickle the funny bone without getting crude about it.

Dream Director: Jean Pierre-Jeunet, of course. And not just because he's French; his visionary whimsy is exactly what the material demands.

Titan A.E. (2000)

The Cartoon: Don Bluth and Gary Goldman's old-school sci-fi yarn about the search for the survivors of mankind.

Why Live Action? The original was a slightly missed opportunity, with its jarring mix of 2- and 3D techniques, and self-conscious attempts to be hipper than Disney with a script co-written by Joss Whedon.

A decade on, and the technology exists to make its visuals seamless, while the likes of Abrams' Star Trek and Whedon's own Serenity have refined the required tone.

Dream Director: A perfect consolation prize for Neill Blomkamp should his Star Wars reboot fall through.

The Black Cauldron (1985)

The Cartoon: Disney's underperforming fantasy about Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran's quest to prevent the evil Horned King from creating an army of the undead.

Why Live Action? There's going to be a gap in the market post- Harry Potter for a decent kid-friendly fantasy saga.

In fact, the source material is five books strong; Disney's adaptation used elements from the first two, including opener The Book of Three. So there's plenty to work from.

Dream Director: Terry Gilliam. He was considered too much of a maverick for Potter, but this should be right up his twisted street.

Legend Of The Overfiend (1989)

The Cartoon: The Overfiend, it is said, can unite the worlds of mankind, man-beasts and demons...but it probably isn't a good idea.

Why Live Action? Technically not a movie, but a feature-length re-edit of three straight-to-video episodes, with much of the extreme hentai filth censored.

Still a shocker, mind: a hardcore horror about demonic hordes fighting a battle of good and evil in a high school, where they can fulfil their insatiable desires for violent sex and bloodshed.

Can it be made as a live action movie? Probably not, but even a watered-down version would redefine cinema's boundaries of taste and decency for decades.

Dream Director: David Cronenberg, the only man who could do justice to such perverted imagery and still make it meaningful.