By: Skeptical-Cinephile (Five Beers) –
I love The Lion King. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies and I would consider it a masterpiece. 2019’s The Lion King is hot garbage, and I never use that term to describe anything.
I know what you’re thinking, “Well, you were going to hate this no matter what, you are too biased about the first film.” And to that I say, isn’t this the audience that Disney is marketing to? Imagine if the original never existed and Disney made this live action movie. They wouldn’t spend that much money and promote it so heavily because they wouldn’t have the fanbase of moviegoers who loved the original. I cannot see how they made this movie thinking “people will love this more than the original.”
You know the story of The Lion King, unless you have been living under a rock your whole life. Simba is a lion who will be king of the Pride Lands one day. But his scheming uncle Scar kills his father, the king and takes the throne. Simba must go through a journey of self-discovery and reclaim the kingdom from his destructive uncle. As always, spoilers ahead, but I feel like it matters a lot less this time.
To the movie’s credit, the landscapes are pretty incredible. Any shot from the movie would make a pretty good still image. The composition is well done and I found myself wondering how they filmed certain parts with nothing in front of the camera. Sadly, that’s pretty much the only good thing I can say about this movie.
Buckle up, buckaroos!
The realism ruins it. What made the original great was how expressive the characters were. Because of the photorealism of this remake, most of the time the characters are stale-faced and emotionless. And when I say most of the time, I genuinely mean like 95% the time they have no emotions being displayed. The scene where Simba discovers Mufasa’s lifeless body isn’t as powerful with Simba not crying or looking distraught. If it wasn’t for the voice acting you wouldn’t even be able to tell he is sad.
We have gone beyond uncanny valley.
The characters are all ruined. From Zazu’s first line less than ten minutes into the movie I knew there was going to be trouble ahead. The problem with having the all-star cast of this movie is you import the personalities that come with the actors. Zazu’s wit is lost to become a bumbling, uptight character who is comic relief.
Speaking of comic relief, Timon and Pumba couldn’t make me smile this time. Seth Rogen is just too distinct to feel like he is Pumba, I could just picture Seth Rogen recording his lines the anytime Pumba spoke. Billy Eichner is known for being mean-spirited in a playful way, but that is not who Timon is. Timon is neurotic and a know-it-all, but he is still very caring. During “Hakuna Matata” in the remake he straight up says “you disgust me” to Pumba.
Don’t even get me started on Scar. They massacred the poor guy. Scar was always the “brains” of the brothers, and he was a threat because of his charisma. He could make others do what he wanted and his downfall was when they all wised up to the games he was playing. New Scar™ is the snarling, vicious type now. Trying to be intimidating but still being smaller in stature to Mufasa and later Simba. I was dying on the inside every time he was on screen.
I practically cheered when he gets axed this time
because the nightmare was over.
Time for me to get on a soapbox. In my Beauty and the Beast remake review I mentioned how they use these movies as an excuse to release new covers of the classic Disney songs. The Lion King is even more of a sinner in this regard than Beauty. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” features Childish Gambino and Beyonce singing (“cha-ching!” thinks Disney). Who cares if we have the number take place during the day time and not at, ya know, night! Also, “In the Jungle” is no longer a quick joke for the audience and a full-on musical number with accompanying instrumental because Billy Eichner has a very good singing voice. What does it add to the movie other than extending the runtime? Nothing.
Two songs are added for background/credits and are forgettable. “Be Prepared” is so clearly shoehorned in after it was announced it wouldn’t be in the film and people complained. The English language singer for “Circle of Life” sound worse than the original version. I will never pay for the soundtrack for this remake. But if I ever get my hands on a copy, I will smash it into pieces in a fit of rage.
I watched the original before seeing this movie. My intent was to have a refresher before going to the theater and so I could pick up on any iconic imagery they included for the remake. This was a bad idea because it was like listening to a symphony, followed up with a performance of the same song by a 5th grader on a recorder.
*“My Heart Will Go On”
plays on a recorder in the distance…*
The themes and ideas of The Lion King are just spelled out in the remake. Like how becoming king is an allegory for adulthood in the original, this time they just state “you want them to stop treating you like a cub, right?” The imagery of light and shadow between Mufasa and Scar is only sometimes used in the new movie, but mostly abandoned. Scenes are added or extended but they add nothing substantial to the movie.
The way Rafiki finds out Simba is alive
is extended and includes a beetle pushing a ball of dung.
I’m not joking about this.
I’m sure some of you are still thinking “you shouldn’t compare this to the original, it’s its own movie.” Again I say, then why did Disney make it if not for the intent of capitalizing on the original? This review is going to do little to stop the juggernaut that is Disney. If you wanted to see it you are probably going to see it even after reading this review. But maybe it will stop a few of you from contributing to making this a billion-dollar box office movie.
I am done with Disney live-action movies. These are the direct-to-video sequels of this generation. They exist only to make money off you remembering when Disney still made original content that had substance and left an impact on your life. I urge you as a moviegoer. Please stop paying to see these. It is not worth it.
The worst part is that this will eventually replace
the original film on streaming and in stores
like they did with Beauty and the Beast.
The Lion King (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you wish you were watching the original instead.
Take a Drink: every time they change a line slightly so it’s “new and original”
Take a Drink: every time you check your watch.
Take a Drink: every time you wonder if James Earl Jones actually recorded lines or if it is just archived audio.
Finish Your Drink: when you spiral into depression realizing that Disney is making more of the live action remakes.