'The Lion King': Far From Disney's Crowing Achievement
Disney releases a new version of their classic film 'The Lion King.' Does it hold up to the original and in what ways?
2019s The Lion King was highly anticipated for many reasons. It was criticised for all the same reasons. Audiences flocked in droves to see this film, as it brings together two generations to appreciate Disney's achievement.
It's not a bad film. It's not a magical film either. It's the middle of the pack for me. The CGI real-life looking animals were cool, but it's by far not something completely new and breathtaking. It actually took away from some of the magic, as I found seeing the mouths move on the animals that looked real seemed fake. It's hard for me to suspend disbelief for this one for some reason. It carried very little of the magical feel of the original except for one aspect: the return of James Earl Jones as Mufasa. His voice is so recognizable. His inflection on his lines unmatched. He is the king of voice acting and voice overs, having voiced two of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. Having him return was a step to try and show the audiences this was a film they were going all out for.
While the all-out effort is appreciated, the film itself seems like the furthest thing from necessary. It's not a continuation of a series that we wanted more of. It's not a remake of a long forgotten film that needed it. It didn't render bad animation better. It was merely a shot for shot remake of a film that already did everything right and that defined the childhood of an entire generation. It's hard to say a hyper-realistic version of that is better than the original, or that it even did much to further cinema in anyway way.
Aside from Jones (and Eichner and Rogen) the voice acting was rather forgettable, which is a shame for such a touted project. John Oliver was decently funny as Zazu. Glover was nowhere near what I expected out of his performance as Simba, as he is one of my favorite actors working. He just didn't feel inspired nor did he do anything that was memorable for me. Beyonce was the same as Nala. More of the same, less attempt at giving this movie its own unique voice in the Disney catalogue.
Hakuna Matata was the best song of the film because of the chemistry between Eichner and Rogen. The rest felt overly sensationalized as an attempt to modernize music that is not even that old to begin with. It's our world's fascination within everything needing to be modernized for a generation to have their own version. Nothing can stay sacred. Nothing can stay the way it was originally intended. We always have to have live action remakes, continuations of series and reboots to try and make the newer generation feel apart of something.
It's far from a bad movie. The visuals are great. They truly do look real minus the mouth fiasco. It's just a movie we all watched in the mid 90s. It's the movie many kids watched countless times and this viewing will not offer anything those kids anything they have not witnessed before—myself being one of those kids.
It is one more example of Disney knowing that fans will help them make bank because they can churn out the most predictable product, and know fans will flock to see this new and improved version. My point is that it's not new nor is it improved in anyway. It merely exists as a project Disney knew would ensure them hundreds of millions of dollars. That seems to be the trend for Disney lately—average to subpar-at-best projects that are just in tune enough with the audience's wants that they don't have to care about continued improvement because of the box office haul these films will inevitably return.
If you have seen the original, you have essentially seen this one. If you liked the original you will probably like this one too. If you like animated films that get turned into super realistic looking talking animals then this definitely for you. If you want to see Disney continue to improve upon the stories it can tell, then you may want to sit this one out. With the global return, it doesn't seem like many people are sitting this one out, but it also doesn't seem like many people saw this one as the magical remake that Disney was hoping for. Perhaps oversaturation really is becoming a problem for Disney. Perhaps this will be their wake-up call to actually consider more unique projects moving forward as they attempt to launch into streaming.
This one was a hard sell. There was very little that could be improved upon. It just never really become something special, and while that didn't hurt the return in any way, all we can hope for is that it did make fans more willing to push the bar to which Disney sets their standards.