Best Disney Live-Action Movies
Here is our list for the best Disney live-action films!
20. Sky High
This film is a different take on the comic book genre as we follow the son of a superhero duo, with has no powers of his own, who must attend a special high school where all super-powered kids learn to control their powers, Sky High. The cast is great and each of them display some heightened, yet realistic, acting including Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston who are both totally believable as Mr. and Mrs. Stronghold a.k.a. The Commander and Jetstream. It's got a fun sensibility and doesn't take itself too seriously which helps with some of the more ridiculous aspects of the plot. This is a funny film with real heart and important life lessons at it's core.
19. The Lone Ranger
A strange film from visionary director Gore Verbinski, The Lone Ranger brings the mysterious lawman back to modern audiences in a very unique way. Johnny Depp is terrific as the spirit warrior Tonto and Armie Hammer has an excellent arc as the lawyer-turned-outlaw-hero. It's got some spectacularly over-the-top action sequences and amazing cinematography. There's some hilarious moments and it rides the fine line between bring a parody and a serious western. Overall it's a fun movie with fine performances, a funny script, and fantastic action.
This is one of the most bold and brilliant films of the past decade and it's also one of the most underrated. Genius filmmaker Brad Bird brings his signature retro style to this sci-fi flick which smartly utilizes Disney Theme Parks into it's narrative. It's got George Clooney at his best in years, as well as newcomers Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy playing the strong female leads. This movie is so original and refreshing, it's unlike anything you've seen before. Watch this one and you'll find it enjoyable from beginning to end.
17. Tron: Legacy
Joseph Krosinski's sequel to the 1982 classic Tron is a film that capitalizes on everything the first movie set up while exploring new territory. There are astonishing action scenes and the visual effects are out of this world as are the sets, costumes, and overall production design. Jeff Bridges does a wonderful job playing both an aged Kevin Flynn and his ageless, traitorous creation Clu. Also, Garett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde both turn in great performances as the courageous and reckless Sam Flynn, and Quorra, a curious and innocent badass warrior. It's a fun ride with an emotional story and incredible action, plus one of the best scores ever from Daft Punk.
Based on the book by Louis Sachar, who also wrote this screenplay, Holes follows the odd life of Stanley Yelnats as he is sentenced to dig holes for a ruthless Warden. This story is mysterious, weird, dramatic, and hilarious. It's cast is superb from Sigourney Weaver, to Jon Voight, to Tim Blake Nelson, but the highlight is Shia LaBeouf and Khleo Thomas as their chemistry makes the whole thing come together. Check out this one after you read the book for the best possible viewing experience.
15. Saving Mr. Banks
Telling the story of how Walt Disney turned P.L. Travers children's book series into a classic musical was certainly a difficult task, but they pulled it off. It's mostly thanks to an energetic Tom Hanks as Disney, an enigmatic Emma Thompson as Travers, and the brilliant Colin Farrell as the titular Mr. Banks. It's a tour de force of acting performances from the entire cast under the masterful direction of Jonh Lee Hancock. The film also has a solid script, emotional musical score, and some great cinematography. Enjoy this true story behind a classic.
14. Bedtime Stories
An imaginative film from director Adam Shankman and writers Tim Herlihy and Matt Lopez, Bedtime Stories is an enjoyable adventure with lots of heart. It's got Adam Sandler in one of his best roles and the rest of the cast including Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, and Lucy Lawless is clearly having a blast here too. It's got tons of memorable and quotable lines of dialogue as well as some exciting action sequences. This is a fun film for all ages and is a perfect pick for family movie night.
13. Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier
A classic movie from the Golden Age of the Mouse House, Davy Crockett acts as both history lesson and entertaining adventure. Fess Parker does a fine job in the lead role and he also sings the popular title song of the film. It's an important story about the troubled past of the United States of America and it's courageous leaders. Crockett is one of our nation's foremost frontiersmen who led an extraordinary life. This is one you won't want to miss.
Amy Adams is brilliant in this wonderful film from Tarzan director Kevin Lima. It's got an excellent supporting cast as well with Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Idina Menzel, and Susan Surandon all delivering fantastic performances. It's a modern retelling of a classic Disney princess fairy tale which perfectly blends the fantasy and real worlds. There's a great story told here and an important message too. This one's truly a magical movie.
11. John Carter
An ambitious project from the creative mind of Finding Nemo and WALL-E director Andrew Stanton, John Carter fully realizes inventive writer Edgar Rice Burroughs' science-fiction adventure novels in an epic fashion. It's a huge movie with dazzling special effects and stunning action scenes. There's some great acting here too from an amazing cast which includes an underrated Taylor Kitch, a spirited Lynn Collins, a stern Willem Dafoe, a tough Thomas Haden Church, and a creepy Mark Strong. It's a well told story that respects the awesome source material and brings it to life, taking us on a compelling adventure to Mars.
10. The Jungle Book
Remaking any classic is dangerous, but director Jon Favreau and his cast and crew took Rudyard Kipling's book and the 1967 animated movie and made it into an excellent film-going experience. It's a stunning achievement in visual effects as the entire film was shot on a sound stage in Los Angeles with the only live-action element being Neel Sethi as Mowgli. Playing the lead role, the young actor does a terrific job interacting with characters that don't exist bringing emotion to every scene and giving us someone to connect with. Playing the animals who help or hinder Mowgli on his journey is an all-star cast including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, Idris Elba, and Christopher Walken. This is the best of the Disney remakes and a leap forward in filmmaking.
Telling a true story is always difficult as you have to balance the truth with dramatization, but director Randall Wallace does an excellent job with this story. Leading the cast is Diane Lane who plays the ambitious Penny Chenery with poise as a real mother and daughter who takes on the impossible task of managing her family's horse ranch, as well as a prized race horse. It's an inspiring story and one that's focused on the importance of family and following your dreams. This film also has a great soundtrack and some thrilling race sequences.
8. The Black Hole
A criminally underseen film from the 1970s, The Black Hole is a blast. It's a slower, more cerebral science fiction film than it's inspiration Star Wars, but it's no less fun to watch. The cast is superb as we see the heroic crew of the USS Palomino unravel the mystery of the spaceship they encounter near a black hole, the USS Cygus. The deadly ship is commanded by an unhinged Dr. Reinhardt played perfectly by Maximilian Schell. It's got funny robots, scary bad guys, and shocking twists. This is a unique and interesting movie filled with thrills.
7. The Muppets
After Disney purchased The Muppets, they made a few enjoyable movies with the loveable characters, but not until actor Jason Seigel, writer Nicholas Stoller, and director James Bobin made this 2011 film did they capitalize on the property. This movie is about the Muppets themselves and features new characters too which helps set it apart from the other films in the series. It really harkens back to the original Muppet movie from 1977, but modernizes it in the best way possible. It's got witty dialogue, hilarious gags, lots of heart, and some spectacular musical numbers. You can't wipe the smile off your face while you watch it.
6. The Rocketeer
Director Joe Johnston crafted a classic adventure film based on the comic books by Dave Stevens with this 1991 box office bomb, The Rocketeer. It's a shame the film didn't do better in it's initial theatrical run, but it's gained cult status over the years and is now hailed by some (myself included) as one of the best Disney movies ever. This is a fun, action-packed film filled with sinister Nazis, deadly shootouts, bombastic aerial battles, frantic fist fights, and a hero you can easily root for. Billy Campbell is excellent in the lead role of the daring, down-on-his-luck pilot Cliff Secord, Alan Arkin is brilliant as the wise mentor and stern mechanic, Jennifer Connelly is stunning and strong as the damsel in distress, and Timothy Dalton is dealy and diabolical as the villain. This is Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Iron Man and represents the best of both the action/adventure and superhero genres.
5. Mary Poppins
A magical and moving motion picture, Mary Poppins stars Julie Andrews in her most famous role as a mystical nanny who saves the Banks family from the doldrums of life. It's got excellent musical numbers, an impressive score, and a heartfelt story. Andrews isn't the only star here, though, as Dick Van Dyke is also a joy to watch as the cheery chimney sweeper Bert. The blending of animation and live-action elements also gives the film an extra-special brightness and life. It's a joy to behold this classic musical which remains one of the best the genre has to offer.
4. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Based on Jules Verne's brilliant and inventive science fiction novel, Disney's movie version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brings the classic story to new life as a fun-filled, adventure full of colorful characters and epic action. It's one of the biggest productions in Disney history and features never-before-seen special effects. The cast is amazing as Kirk Douglas and James Mason play the lead roles of Ned Land and Captain Nemo with joy and gravitas. This movie features some incredible sets and overall production design (it basically invented steampunk) as well as amazing costumes and props. The music is moody and emotional and it all works together to create a stunning achievement.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
An instant classic, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is one of Disney's best and most well-rounded movies which also features some of the most memorable characters in film history. The cast is fantastic as Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, and Geoffrey Rush bring their characters to life in a naturalistic way while injecting them with a specific theatricality that's perfectly suited to this story. It's got exciting stunts, brilliant writing, genuine scares, and flawless visual effects. Gore Verbinski manged to make a movie that's instantly recognizable, yet different from anything that came before. There are not many movies that are so infinitely rewatchable and so thoroughly enjoyable as this one.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The most magical and meaningful story Disney has ever told is this one based upon the book by C.S. Lewis about four siblings who go on an adventure in a mystical world of wonder. This movie has so many amazing performances as the whole cast is completely dedicated to making this movie best it can be from William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, and Georgeie Henley, to James McAvoy, Tilda Swinton, and Liam Neeson. The set design, visual effects, and costumes all help tell the story and support the characters on their journeys. Filled with intense and epic battles, emotional conversations, frightening villains, and relatable characters, this film truly transports you to another world and tells a story full of important truths.
1. Swiss Family Robinson
The best Disney live-action film is Swiss Family Robinson. It's a family-centric, fun-filled adventure with plenty of comedy, romance, and action. As this shipwrecked family survives an uncharted island we come to care for them and want to see them succeed. There are some excellent sequences of action in this movie some of which feature live animals which you won't see much of today. It's true guerrilla filmmaking as they shot on location in Tobago adding realism to the movie's setting and story. The entire cast gives superb performances and make you believe they are a real family. It's a story about working together, the dangers of sibling rivalry, and staying true to who you are. This is the ultimate family film.