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CGI Baloo and Neel Sethi in this image from Walt Disney Pictures
Baloo (Bill Murray) and Mowgli (Neel Sethi) (Image: Walt Disney Pictures)

AI is a strange beast — terrifying and fascinating in equal measure. The last couple of years have seen the rising popularity of ChatGPT, a free AI chat model from OpenAI. The capabilities of ChatGPT are widely applicable. It can do everything from solving coding problems to writing a personalized nutrition guide to creating documents to set up a business, and so much more. It’s smart and can even be quite funny.

Since I’ve recently given Disney some flack for its live-action adaptations, I wanted to take the opportunity to be fair. With minimal prompting, I asked ChatGPT for its top nine Disney live-action films. The first response created the ranking based on box-office success as well as critic and audience reviews. Surprisingly, most of the films it chose were the same recent live-action remakes I’ve been bad-mouthing.

You can find all of the films in this list on Disney Plus. If you’re considering becoming a subscriber, check out our Disney Plus review.

Check out Part 1 and 2 of the ChatGPT rankings in our videos below:

ChatGPT’s First Response

Emma Watson in this image from Walt Disney Pictures
Belle (Emma Watson) (Image: Walt Disney Pictures)

“The ranking of the ‘best’ Disney live-action films is subjective and can vary depending on personal preferences. However, based on critical acclaim, box office success, and audience reception, here is a ranking of nine Disney live-action films:

1. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (2017)

This film stands out as one of Disney's most successful live-action adaptations. It beautifully captured the magic and charm of the animated classic with stunning visuals, memorable performances, and an enchanting musical score.

2. ‘The Jungle Book’ (2016)

Directed by Jon Favreau, this film combined live-action and CGI to create a visually immersive experience. It skillfully updated the beloved animated film with remarkable visual effects, a talented voice cast, and a captivating story.

3. ‘Cinderella’ (2015)

Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of the classic fairy tale was visually stunning, with lavish costumes and breathtaking set designs. The film retained the essence of the animated original while adding depth to the characters and delivering a heartfelt story.

4. ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ (2018)

This long-awaited sequel to the 1964 classic managed to recapture the whimsy and magic of the original. Emily Blunt's portrayal of Mary Poppins was praised, and the film featured catchy musical numbers, impressive visuals, and a nostalgic yet fresh storyline.

5. ‘Aladdin’ (2019)

While many were skeptical of a live-action adaptation of ‘Aladdin,’ this film pleasantly surprised audiences. It successfully brought the vibrant world of Agrabah to life with charismatic performances, visually striking musical sequences, and a strong sense of nostalgia.

6. ‘Maleficent’ (2014)

Offering a fresh perspective on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale, ‘Maleficent’ explored the backstory of the iconic villain. Angelina Jolie's powerful portrayal and the film's stunning visuals made it a captivating reimagining that resonated with audiences.

7. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ (2003)

This swashbuckling adventure introduced audiences to Captain Jack Sparrow, portrayed brilliantly by Johnny Depp. The film revitalized the pirate genre, delivering thrilling action, memorable characters, and an engaging storyline.

8. ‘Christopher Robin’ (2018)

This heartwarming film brought Winnie the Pooh and his friends to life in a touching story about the power of imagination and rediscovering the joy of childhood. It blended live-action with CGI seamlessly and featured strong performances, nostalgia, and a delightful narrative.

9. ‘Dumbo’ (2019)

Directed by Tim Burton, this reimagining of the animated classic had a distinctive visual style and a heartfelt story. While it had a mixed reception, the film showcased Burton's unique aesthetic and delivered moments of charm and wonder.

Remember, this ranking is subjective, and other Disney live-action films may also deserve recognition based on individual preferences.”

ChatGPT’s Second Response

Two Lindsay Lohans in this image from Walt Disney Pictures
Annie James and Hallie Parker (Lindsay Lohan) (Image: Walt Disney Pictures)

ChatGPT is very good at responding to prompts and can even think in hypotheticals. In fact, prompt engineering to get the best responses from AI is a new field of study. While it was interesting to see ChatGPT’s automatic response based on pure numbers, I wanted a list I could agree with more and that felt less generic. So, I tried again.

This time, I asked ChatGPT to pretend it was a Disney fan in their 30s. I prompted it to list its favorite Disney live-action films, this time including Disney Channel original movies and focusing on nostalgic films.

It understood the assignment. The writing may be a little ropey, but as far as its choices, I don’t think I could have made a better list myself. I guess I’m just a typical millennial Disney fan and the AI has my number. Here’s what it said:

“As a Disney fan in my 30s, I understand the significance of nostalgia and the impact of Disney films from the ’90s and early 2000s. Taking into account critics’ rankings and focusing on nostalgic live-action films from that era, here is a ranking of the top nine Disney live-action films:

1. ‘The Parent Trap’ (1998)

This classic starring Lindsay Lohan captured the hearts of many in the ’90s. It showcased dual performances by Lohan and a heartwarming story of twin sisters reuniting with their divorced parents. The film is nostalgic, well-received by critics, and holds a special place in many Disney fans’ hearts.

2. ‘The Color of Friendship’ (2000)

Based on a true story, this Disney Channel original movie explores themes of racial tolerance and friendship. The film follows the experiences of a South African exchange student and an American teenager during the Apartheid era. It provides an important message about acceptance and understanding, making it a significant and nostalgic film from that time period.

3. ‘Hocus Pocus’ (1993)

While initially receiving mixed reviews, ‘Hocus Pocus’ has become a cult classic over the years. Its charming story of three witches wreaking havoc on Halloween night, along with memorable performances by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, has made it a Halloween staple for many.

4. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ (2003)

This swashbuckling adventure film introduced audiences to the iconic Captain Jack Sparrow, portrayed by Johnny Depp. It revitalized the pirate genre, delivering thrilling action, memorable characters, and a captivating storyline. The film's success led to a popular franchise that further enhanced its nostalgic appeal.

5. ‘The Princess Diaries’ (2001)

Starring Anne Hathaway, this film tells the story of a teenager who discovers she is the heir to a small European kingdom. It captured the essence of a modern fairy tale, offering a delightful blend of humor, romance, and self-discovery. ‘The Princess Diaries’ resonated with audiences, becoming a beloved film that stands the test of time.

6. ‘101 Dalmatians’ (1996)

A live-action adaptation of the animated classic, this film showcased Glenn Close's memorable performance as the villainous Cruella de Vil. It captured the charm and adventure of the original while bringing the adorable Dalmatian puppies to life. The film's success spawned a sequel and further cemented its nostalgic status.

7. ‘Mighty Joe Young’ (1998)

Directed by Ron Underwood, this film centered around a gentle giant gorilla named Joe and the bond he forms with a young woman. It combined thrilling adventure with heartfelt moments, showcasing impressive visual effects and memorable performances.

8. ‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie’ (2003)

Based on the popular Disney Channel series, this film follows the adventures of Lizzie McGuire (played by Hilary Duff) during a class trip to Rome. It brought the beloved character to the big screen, delivering a mix of comedy, romance, and relatable coming-of-age themes that appealed to a generation of Disney Channel viewers.

9. ‘Remember the Titans’ (2000)

‘Remember the Titans’ deserves recognition for its powerful storytelling and impactful themes. Based on a true story, the film depicts the integration of an American high school football team and addresses issues of racial inequality and unity. ‘Remember the Titans’ resonates with audiences with its inspiring message of overcoming adversity and promoting unity.

This ranking combines the nostalgic appeal of Disney films from the ’90s and early 2000s with critical rankings and the enduring popularity of these films among Disney fans.”

This is the list I wanted to see! It’s clear that with correct prompting, ChatGPT is already quite good at delivering the response you are looking for.

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