The Disney remake train continues to toot its horn with its third reimagining release this year in ‘The Lion King’. The others of this year include the well-received ‘Aladdin’ and the very disappointing ‘Dumbo’ film directed by Tim Burton. The trend of Disney remakes have been hit and miss. The one and only reimagining project of Disney’s that we at ‘All Things Movies’ enjoyed has been ‘The Jungle Book’ back in 2016, directed by Jon Favreau; the now director of ‘The Lion King’. The big question for the new adaptation is whether they can recreate that magic from the original or not.
The Hans Zimmer score, Jeremy Irons as Scar, the beautiful hand drawn animation. Can all of this be trumped by a new look animation of impressive CGI and a (nearly) whole new voice cast? To start off, the CGI is phenomenal. I haven’t quite seen anything like it before. It’s certainly more than a stones through away from the original 1994 animation. All of the animals are created with immense detail, take Scar’s menacing facial blemishes as an example of this. At times I had to pinch myself to remember that I wasn’t in fact watching a David Attenborough documentary but instead watching computer generated images of Lions, Giraffes and Hyenas. In addition to the CGI, I thoroughly enjoyed some of the voice work in ‘The Lion King’. The standouts were Billy Eichner & Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa. Their voice work as my two favourite characters from the film instantly elevated the atmosphere. Before their arrival, the film itself was dull and, if having seen the original, very predictable due to it being a shot-for-shot remake. The energy and enthusiasm by Eichner and Rogen gave a new light to their characters which in turn seeped into the overall film giving in a new lease of life.
Moving away from the positives of ‘The Lion King’, I want to talk about the parts I didn’t enjoy. First of all, I don’t get the need or reasoning behind wanting to remake this film. The original is still held in such high regard and is one of our all-time favourites. It’s still impactful and has some of the best music in any Disney film (complaints or any disagreement can be sent via email). As previously mentioned this is a shot-for-shot remake which then makes in next to impossible not to judge against its predecessor. The bar has been set very high and the remake falls short massively. 2019’s ‘The Lion King’ is forgettable and unnecessary. It doesn’t try to do anything new with the story or improve on anything from the 1994 film. The songs fall flat, they lack the gravity that the previous vocals held; maybe the commitment wasn’t there to give us the best performance or maybe they shouldn’t have just cast a leading female singer for a role requiring more than just good general vocals. Leading from this the voice work did not feel strong enough, barring Eichner and Rogen as mentioned above, and they failed to utilized James Earl Jones, the original Mufasa continuing his role, to the best of his ability. It just seems so flat at the best of times. I would almost go as far to say that the voice work is sloppy. From the perspective of the viewer it feels as if they almost expected that the film would be a success (which is has achieved internationally in its opening weekend) and so quality was put aside. I was hoping at the very minimum that they would change scenes or roles, add in new twists or characters, something to demonstrate that they had courage to break away and stand out from the original; something more than aesthetics alone.
To sum up our opinion on this film is really to say that no strong feeling or opinion can be made. What this remake has achieved is reigniting my love for the 1994 Disney classic and truly appreciate everything I loved about it. This retrospective journey included recalling the beautifully composed score by Hans Zimmer; all of the original songs that still strike such a chord and are quintessentially Disney in every way, and the beautifully created voice of Scar (Jeremy Irons) that gave him the title of one of the great Disney villains. No doubt people will see the film regardless of negative or positive reviews but I guarantee that the majority of people will still find superiority in the original film.