The Kingdom Hearts movie may be live-action, could it be good?

Sora from Kingdom Hearts in a car with Sonic the Hedgehog

The Kingdom Hearts movie will reportedly have live-action elements, something that has tamped down enthusiasm regarding the adaptation. 

The Kingdom Hearts franchise continues its hiatus well into 2024. While Kingdom Hearts 3 garnered commercial success, many longtime fans criticized the game’s narrative, especially compared to previous entries in the franchise. The third entry’s success meant Square Enix greenlit Kingdom Hearts 4, though its release date details remain murky years removed from its reveal.

It’s not just a fourth game that has fans excited. Longtime fans remember Kingdom Hearts first got reports of an animated adaptation in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, those plans fell through, and it wouldn’t be until 2020 that reports of an adaptation came to light again. However, fans might not like Disney’s direction with the Kingdom Hearts movie.

Will the Kingdom Hearts movie be live-action?

A report claims Kingdom Hearts will be a hybrid movie utilizing live-action and CGI animation.

The report comes from Daniel “DanielRPK” Richtman, a Hollywood leaker who previously broke the news on multiple MCU projects before their official announcements. Richtman has yet to report on other details about the film, but the reveal is enough to make fans concerned.

Disney’s history with live-action adaptations is complicated. Although many found commercial success, fans who loved the original animated works felt the live-action transition infantilized the source material. The films have also generally received a mixed response from critics.

The Kingdom Hearts franchise bears a distinctly animated style with fashion senses that likely wouldn’t translate to a live-action movie. That hasn’t stopped similarly over-the-top properties from the jump to live-action. Netflix’s One Piece boasted record-high numbers for a live-action anime adaptation, one of the rare times such an adaptation has done so. Movies like 2022’s Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers and Detective Pikachu also show this phenomenon in action.

However, like many live-action and animation hybrids, these examples are tongue-in-cheek comedies. While Kingdom Hearts has funny moments, intentional or otherwise, it’s primarily a melodramatic story with plenty of flashy action setpieces. Even Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, which featured an all-star cast of Hollywood actors, opted to be fully animated.

Jack Sparrow Kingdom Hearts 3

Aesthetically, making a Kingdom Hearts movie into a live-action and CGI animation hybrid may be the best way to emulate the games’ style. The anime-inspired Sora in the games can look out of place alongside Donald Duck and Goofy. That’s made even more stark when the trio stands alongside other characters. That contrast is ultimately part of the series’ charm, and doing something similar with real people could potentially work.

Time will tell if Kingdom Hearts does follow in Sonic the Hedgehog’s cinematic footsteps. 

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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