Starring the voices of Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogan, Billy Eichner, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, James Earl Jones, John Kani, Alfre Woodard, JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph
Directed by Jon Favreau
2019 / 118 Minutes / Walt Disney Pictures
This may come as a shock to people, but the original Lion King has never been on my list of beloved Disney Classics. I know many loved it, but it never really stood out for me even the first time I saw it when I was 16. Sure it was good, but meh. Blasphemy I know. So it’s probably not a surprise that a so called live action version of the animated film wasn’t really on my list of must sees… and it still doesn’t do anything for me. I even saw the stage play and although it’s visually amazing I was just never captivated by the story.
I think the most frustrating thing about this “live action” version is that it’s called live action. There is nothing real about this movie. It’s stunning, but it’s just the exact same animated movie that came out back in 1994. The only difference is the characters look real. So maybe instead of calling this live action, let’s just call it what it is… a plan and simple remake. There’s nothing new here at all and granted I haven’t watched the original in a very long time, but I’m pretty sure this is almost shot for shot.
I don’t need to talk about the story, everyone knows it. It’s the same again, nothing has changed. I didn’t have any hope for this movie, but there’s one thing I wish they had done. Cut the music numbers out! I think it could have been really good if they lost the songs and the awkward looking animals singing. That’s my biggest problem with this movie. I cringed the moment ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ came on. What was one of my favourite scenes from the animated film is now weird and painful to watch. The characters are meant to look real so to see them singing and moving around to the music doesn’t work. They also don’t have many facial expressions because they are supposed to look real. Without that this happy song coming from an expressionless little lion cub misses all of the fun that the cartoon made it. If the songs were gone (again I know, blasphemy) I think we would have been left with a very engaging, dramatic and interesting film.
As much as I’m enjoying blasting the movie, it wasn’t all that bad, in fact it’s much more enjoyable than Disney’s last live action effort Aladdin. The visuals are remarkable and breathtaking and basically the best part of the film. It’s the last act that won me over slightly. The action picks up with some incredible looking scenes and I was entertained for those final moments.
I know there’s tons of love for these live action Disney movies and I am a big Disney fan, but these just are not working for me. Beauty & The Beast, Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King are all beloved Disney classics that really didn’t need the live action treatment. None of them are anywhere near the brilliance of the originals and unlike the originals these ones won’t get the rewatch treatment.