The Lion King (2019) – If it aint broke, don’t fix it.

Be prepared for a double header coming your way. I recently went to the drive in and saw The Lion King and Avengers End Game, (Finally!) so I decided to review them since I have not been to a movie or written a review in a while. And boy am I inspired to write today.

I can’t tell if my opinion of this movie is popular or not, (I’ve seen some mixed reviews) but I am not happy. Not happy at all. I’m going to start with the good, (because there isn’t a whole lot) and make my way from there.

 

The Good: Visuals

The visuals are absolutely STUNNING!

With how realistic the animation is, (down to flowing streams of water and rustling leaves on the trees) you’ll kind of forget the bad elements of this film. I was in awe of the visuals and those lion cubs and baby elephants are THE most adorable things ever! However; the realism in this movie hurts it as well…more on that later.

 

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The Good: Comedy

I think Timon, Pumbaa and Zazu stole the show. I really enjoyed the banter between Timon and Pumbaa, they were hilarious and although much of their dialogue and scenes are the same from the original there was something refreshing when hearing Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner. Throughout many of the jokes, you can hear Rogan’s trademark laugh and I was laughing every time. John Oliver as Zazu was really funny, he brought that dry, British humour to the screen and was very witty. I don’t know if any of it was improvised but I loved pretty much every moment Zazu was on screen.

The OK: The Nostalgia

Everyone by now should know that these Disney remakes are a cash grab. Nostalgia (Especially 90’s nostalgia) is so on trend, that everyone wants a remake or a reboot or something to come out. As a nostalgic myself, it reminds me of a simpler time and any excuse to relive my childhood is something I will always jump at.

It was cool to see a retelling of one of my favourite movies and the exact beat for beat scenes I know and love, but somehow – the new version didn’t do it justice.

The Bad: Robotic emotions and an exact replica

I really don’t think this was a movie that needed to be remade. It was so heart felt, entertaining and technically sound that it didn’t need to be rebooted for a new age.

In my opinion live-action remakes such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and, heck! even The Jungle Book (with Mowgli, played by Neel Sethi) were originally cartoons that had a human lead. So it was really cool to see your favorite Disney Princess come to life. I equate it to seeing the actors at Disney World walking around the park in character, THAT makes sense. But remaking a cartoon from the 90’s that had no human characters BUT had human-esque* emotions/facial expressions to a visually beautiful animation with no human characters, no human-esque* emotions/facial expressions BUT really good voice actors really ruined the experience of this whole movie for me.

There are so many examples from this film where you do not get the same emotion delivered from an identical scene that was in the original. One example is, when Mufasa tells Simba that he was disappointed and pretty much scolds him for “deliberately disobeying” him, in the original – there was so much emotion and literal disappointment and fear in Mufasa’s voice and also in the facial expressions, you can just tell this was a key part of the movie showing a true bonding moment between a father and his son. In this new version, they even have Mufasa himself (James Earl Jones) reprising his lines and there was barely any emotion at all. And don’t get me started with Scar…he was the sarcastic evil uncle who killed Mufasa because he was jealous, but in this remake he’s an  bland character with little depth who you hate because he’s boring to watch not because he’s portraying a sadistically evil brother/uncle.

I don’t know if this was done on purpose and if the actors were told to speak monotone because the animated animals don’t show any emotion, but it was tough to really feel much of anything for these characters. If the actors were told not to give a lot of emotion in their voices for the talking scenes, then why would you bother making the movie in the first place? There are many examples of voices not matching the visual and one scene in particular stood out to me. When teenage Simba is belting out the lyrics to Hakuna Matata, and the lion on the screen is just moving his mouth, it feels like something is seriously off. This is one of the most iconic songs in Disney history and I really liked hearing the new version, but it’s better enjoyed by closing my eyes and just letting the song play through.

You can see a direct comparison between the two versions of the song here.

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Overall, What made the original so special was that both kids and adults loved it and though I think kids would find this entertaining,  the die-hard fans and nostalgics alike, are going to probably be disappointed.

I can go on, but the main point is some things should not be remade, and if it isn’t broken – why try to fix it?

 

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