10 Great Animated Movies That Could Never Be Live-Action

LEGO Movie characters, Woody from Toy Story, Miles Morales from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

For millions worldwide, animated movies are a chance to escape from reality for an hour or two. With the absence of realism comes a level of immersion that is generally accentuated by stellar art design and animation. Whether these are Disney and Pixar movies or not, animated movies are widely beloved by all ages. However, the past decade has made it increasingly obvious that live-action remakes of successful animated movies make a lot of money for the studios involved.

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Moana is one of the latest to get a live-action remake, following The Lion King and Maleficent and 2023’s The Little Mermaid. However, plenty of exceptional animated movies should never get this live-action treatment. Sometimes, a story with magical or wacky elements, exaggerated characters, or a unique artistic aesthetic should be left alone. A poorly-executed live-action remake can harm a legacy, whereas no remake can leave the original untarnished.



10 The LEGO Movie

While the idea of doing live-action remakes for animated movies fits in some cases, there are many obvious flaws when it comes to adapting The LEGO Movie. The LEGO Movie‘s animation is exactly what it needs to be and perfectly executes bringing LEGO blocks and characters to life.

The LEGO Movie‘s plot, hilarious jokes, and remarkable heart could work in any format, but there would be no point in remaking this movie. The LEGO Batman Movie was a spinoff that worked, but the original LEGO Movie‘s sequel didn’t land so well. Regardless, a live-action remake wouldn’t work when bringing LEGO bricks to life and making it as wacky as intended.

9 The Mitchells Vs. The Machines

Movies about humans fighting machines have been done before, yet very few have captured the charm and essence that The Mitchells Vs. The Machines manages. This titular dysfunctional family is the last hope to save humanity from sentient machines, encountering all sorts of robots to a giant Furby. This movie’s animation perfectly shows off the chaotic fight scenes and enhances the hilarious yet terrifying results of technological sentience.

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The vibrancy and general chaos would not be the same in live-action. Instead, it would likely end up looking over-produced and too refined. The Mitchells Vs. The Machines is eye-catching and energetic. Its lessons about family would translate well to live-action, but its overall impact would not.

8 Madagascar

While the live-action remake of The Lion King did a good enough job of making the animals look convincing, this style isn’t suited to every cinematic universe with talking animals. Madagascar, for example, would not translate well to live-action.

Madagascar‘s main characters are all larger-than-life, from Marty, Melman, Alex, and Gloria to the Penguins and the Lemurs. Every single one of them has exaggerated characteristics that deserve to be celebrated with the wonders of animation.

7 Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph is a rare case of a Disney property with very little chance of getting a live-action remake. The concept of arcade and retro games coming to life in live-action movies has been tried before. Pixels is a prime example of what not to do with such a premise. Ready Player One found the perfect balance of live-action and animation, given the nature of the movie and its virtual reality focus with “The Oasis.” Wreck-It Ralph, however, is perfect as it is, and talks should be about a future third installment over any remake.

Life inside the arcade machines and games could only ever be done like in Ready Player One, leaving very little point in taking anything else to live-action. Ralph and friends belong in the arcade, and that is where they will stay.

6 Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

Non-Disney or Pixar animated movies have to be pretty special to get a huge following. In 2009, Sony Pictures Animation introduced the world to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is fun for all the family, as inventor protagonist Flint Lockwood causes it to rain food down on Swallow Falls, with disastrous consequences.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is chock-full of witty jokes, puns, and fast-paced action and adventure. There would be humorous ways to translate this charm to live-action, but it would never be able to recreate the over-the-top exaggerated goodness that only animation can provide.

5 Monsters, Inc.

Pixar brought in the new millennium by adding Monsters, Inc. to its growing repertoire in 2001, as it joined A Bug’s Life and the first two Toy Story movies. Monsters, Inc. has since become a beloved Pixar property, with a 2013 prequel and a Disney+ television series following suit.

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Monsters and other fictional creatures can transition to live-action films and television with the right budget and care, but it doesn’t mean they should. Sulley, Mike, Boo, and the others have already brought joy to countless families worldwide, but revamping the characters into a different format isn’t necessary. Monsters, Inc. deserves to be left at the top of animation gold.

4 How To Train Your Dragon

Dragons are such a diverse fictional species; they come in all shapes and sizes. Thankfully, the current state of film and television means that a substantial budget for CGI can bring dragons to life in live-action properties. House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves have all done it, each bringing their own touches to design and execution. However, this doesn’t mean that all dragons must now be in live-action media.

The dragons in the How to Train Your Dragon movies are given so much personality and charm thanks to animation that would not be possible to recreate in live-action. Toothless and Hiccup returned for further sequels, series, and shorts, but they do not need to be brought to life in any further capacity.

3 Big Hero 6

Big Hero Six is another post-2010 Disney release that general fans of animated movies absolutely adore. Its main selling point is the lovable inflatable robot named Baymax, but the entire movie hits all the emotions with exceptional pacing.

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A big budget could turn the Microbot swarms and various robot-fighting scenes into exceptional live-action equivalents, but Baymax himself would likely not do so well in the transition. Unlike other animated movies that could never make it to live-action, there is potential there with Big Hero Six, but ultimately, it should be left alone.

2 Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Whenever Spider-Man hits the screen, the possibilities are endless, whether in animated or live-action form. However, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse changed the game for what it takes to be an incredible and successful animated movie today.

The 2018 animated movie blew expectations out of the water with bold storytelling and an exceptional soundtrack. But it was the visuals that received the most love and recognition. The striking animation and the vibrant art style cannot be replicated in live-action, no matter how good the performances and production levels are. The film’s sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, is set to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps, but neither should ever get a live-action remake.

1 Toy Story

Like its fellow Pixar franchise Monsters, Inc., Toy Story should be left alone and never remade into live-action. Many fans of the franchise already feel uneasy about the series going beyond the original three, as they were all exceptional films in their own right, but also as a trilogy. There has already since been a fourth film, a Lightyear spinoff, and a fifth film in progress.

The 2022 live-action remake of Pinocchio showed a glimpse into what Toy Story could look like with similar treatment, but fans would want nothing of the sort. Toys coming to life when the humans are away belongs in animation and animation alone.

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