Disney live-action remakes are a scourge of the film industry. Not one has been enjoyable on it’s own merits, feeding off nostalgia to make a few quick bucks. The highly unnecessarily practise adopted by the world’s biggest studio has produced mediocre films that fail to capture the magic and imagination of the animation that proceeded it.
It is such a big problem that the paragraph you’ve just read is actually the same one I used for Aladdin and pretty similar to the one I used for Dumbo. Here’s the rub though. While Aladdin and Dumbo were unnecessary remakes, at least they had some emotion.
The Lion King is the same old story from the eighty-minute plus cartoon, dragged out (and I don’t know how) for nearly two hours. It revolves around the young Simba, a cub born into the royal lion family who look after the Pride Lands. Admiring his father Mufasa and wishing to emulate them him, the young cub lives an idyllic live. That is until his disgruntled uncle Scar murders Mufasa and forces Simba into exile. Can Simba revolt against his uncle’s tyranny?
It goes without saying that The Lion King is impeccable animation. The animals look like animals, as though Disney animators have been stalking the Serengheti instead of pulling in hours and hours to bring the majesty of Africa to the big screen (which makes it more frustrating that their efforts were wasted on this.) It look incredible and if we hadn’t of given voices to the animals, it would’ve been a better adaptation.
The biggest emotional pulls with The Lion King come from the nostalgia. When Mufasa is killed, it is the lead up that causes you to well up in sadness, knowing what is about to happen. Without the animated film beforehand, the new animation would feel flat. As exquisite as the computer animation is, it sadly cannot emote. Moments of anger, rage, joy, and love are lost in the glassy eyes of animals who don’t have the emotional range on their faces to pull off some of the grave sequences
The voice-acting is fine but it is incomparable to the original. Particularly Beyonce who delivers so coldly that at one call to action moment is laughable. The only voice acting which rises to the occasion is Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timone and Pumba respectably, bringing great chemistry to the comic relief and delivering some absolutely brilliant lines.
Let’s not get started on how they ditched Be Prepared – half-way through singing Be Prepared. It doesn’t make Scar more sinister, taking away the camp charm that Jeremy Irons so gleefully interjected into the original film. It makes him boring and dull. Same with Beyonce running through her songs as though she is peacocking her vocal prowess. It doesn’t work and is actually quite jarring.
This new Lion King film feels like a shiny new car that someone got purely to show-off. Sure, it looks pretty but it doesn’t go the distance. And honestly, you just wind up hating whomever is in the driving seat.
An unnecessary exercise in how great their animation is. The Lion King remake is lifeless.
That being said…if this sparks a remake for The Lion King 2, then I would not grumble.
The Lion King is out 19 July