Long Live the King???
I’ve been very indifferent towards the Disney remakes that have occurred these past few years. I’ve only been a fan of Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book with the rest of them feeling very lackluster and devoid of any vision and life. Recreating the GREATEST Disney movie of all time is a big risk and a huge cash grab opportunity, and honestly that is all the new Lion King movie. More than that, it is empty of any life, purpose, or any originality and is a huge sin towards the masterpiece that is the original. Disney needs to stop with these remakes as there is no reason for you to watch this movie when there is a much better version that was released in 1994.
You know exactly what the plot of the film is and it offers nothing new or interesting for you to chew on. Simba is an ambitious little lion cub who wants the throne and to rule the Pride Lands. He has an evil uncle and a noble father, yada yada dad dies goes into exile, you know how the story goes. The remake offers nothing new or original to make this remake worth it. It is exactly shot for shot of what the original was so you know exactly what to expect.
The cast is perhaps the best part of this movie. Hearing the updated voices of Donald Glover, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, Beyonce, and many others does offer a new spin on the movie. There is some real talent here making it a treat to hear the new voices come alive on screen. It is the only hint of originality contained within this movie however. I am glad they brought back James Earl Jones to voice the iconic voice of Mufasa, but all it did was remind me that there was a better version of this film I could be watching at home.
The movie also is also a visual treat, with iconic scenes getting a “live action” update. Seeing scenes like the opening “Circle of Life” theme or an overview of the Pride Lands looks pretty amazing, especially considering that this is all computer generated. The effects on the animals are pretty realistic and it’s cool to see the movie presented with a new look.
But those effects are also a major drawback of the movie due to the realism they go for. You can’t really have facial expressions or emotions with the live action animals since real animals don’t have expressive reactions to events. You can’t tell when someone is smiling, sad, angry, upset, cheerful, inquisitive, in conflict, all of these have to be expressed through voice work alone but here it is not enough when there are no actual expressions to go along with it.
For example, when Nala meets Simba after such a long time she is a bit confused and has to ponder whether this is really her childhood friend. However, you can’t see that look of confusion or moment of pondering because lions don’t normally react that way. This is something that further reinstates why the animation is better because you can see those expressions and emotions adding something to the conflict going on screen. It’s hard to connect with what’s going on when everyone looks so stoic and serious. That is how the animals usually look so that was to be expected in a live action version.
The movie also lacks any originality or tries to do anything different with the story. It is just a shot-for-shot remake with exact scenes playing out with the same cuts, dialogue, scenery, and imagery. You don’t want to change the story too much, but remakes such as Beauty and the Beast attempted to expand some backstories or give other characters some new dialogue. The Lion King however has none of that, making this just an emotionless copycat of the original.
The music is fun, but they have taken out a few songs or shortened some further proving that the original does it better. I love these songs and I love hearing new covers of them, but again with the emotion, it is hard to connect with when you can’t see what these characters are feeling.
I may be coming off as way too harsh on this film, but I love The Lion King! It is a classic, a masterpiece, a 10/10 movie that didn’t need to be redone. It is perfect just as it is. They have taken all the life, heart, and soul of the original and presented it again in theaters just to earn a quick dollar. There are a lot of movies that you can make remakes for, but The Lion King is on a different level. The new film offers nothing worth of substance and you don’t need to waste your time seeing this when you have a better more fulfilling version at home. Undoubtedly though, this movie is going to make a ton of money so I guess we are going to continue this trend even though it’s getting tried and tired fast.