When the first photo of Will Smith as Genie emerged, fans were left disappointed by the fact that they only got to see the Genie in human form. This led to several assurances made by the actor and studio alike that he would, in fact, be blue in the live-action Aladdin remake. With the recent arrival of the second teaser, fans finally got what they wished for: A good first look at Genie in his mystical blue form. The reaction, however, has been somewhat negative, to say the least.
As awful as this Genie may be, strictly in regards to visual quality it's likely that the character will see improvements by the time Aladdin is released in theaters. Remember, this is just an early teaser, and it isn't necessarily a reflection of what we should expect from the final product. That being said, the issue of aesthetic quality is revealing and says a lot about the limitations Disney faces with the many live-action remakes currently in development.
The classic animated feature films of the era commonly referred to as the Disney Renaissance were incredibly imaginative and well-made, which is one of the reasons why they continue to enjoy immense popularity more than twenty years after many of them were released. Since most of these films are based on old, inventive fairytales and stories, many of the characters and concepts would have been difficult, if not completely impractical, to recreate outside of animation.
One example is the 1941 classic, Dumbo, which features a flying elephant and a variety of talking circus animals as well as a mouse dressed in a circus uniform. While talking animals have been depicted in live-action features in the past, it's apparent from the recent Dumbo trailer that Disney has opted to avoid all difficulties associated by using CGI, minimizing its use by replacing certain animal roles such as Timothy Q. Mouse with new human characters, which, though disappointing to fans of the original film, is wise from a visual perspective.
It's worth noting that this is not the case in the live-action remake of The Lion King which, unlike Dumbo, is able to remain far more faithful to the original film due to the fact that there are no live-action components needed. As a result, there's nothing that would conflict with the CGI elements on screen as you're likely to see in films that feature both CGI characters and real actors, which, despite advances in animation capabilities, risk breaking the audience's immersion.
But there are some riskier Disney projects currently in development, such as Mulan, which is scheduled for release in March 2020. The animated film featured Mushu, a miniature dragon, and Cri-kee, a communicative cricket. Both would be somewhat difficult to adapt to live-action, even with the use of CGI -- in such a way that avoids coming across as goofy or overly campy, especially if you consider some of Mushu's cartoonish antics in the animated film. With that in mind, it's understandable that Disney has chosen to expand the cast and introduce brand new human characters, such as the malevolent witch, Xian Lang.
By now it might seem as though the ability to create or mold characters using CGI is integral to Disney's live-action remakes. Therein lies the problem.