Release Date: July 18, 2019
Cast: Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Director: Jon Favreau
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Okay, okay, so it’s photo realistic. But like Shania says, that don’t impress me much! Disney’s latest update to their classic animation canon makes us question where the result is worth the effort!
The Lion King is a dang near shot for shot remake of the 1994 classic, so I don’t need to go into the details on this one, but let’s humor the possibility you don’t know it. Simba is a lion cub whose dad get’s overthrown as leader of their pride and he runs away, making friends with a warthog and meerkat before returning to his ancestral rock and reclaiming the lion throne. All caught up?
Jon Favreau’s take on the tale doesn’t do anything new or worthwhile unfortunately. While it may be a shot for shot remake, what happens in those shots is different, as Twitter has been quick to point out. In the odd (and now we see misguided) attempt to make the animals as realistic as possible, the character of the original is lost. Instead of lively song and dance numbers we get a lot of lions walking… and that’s about it.
The star studded cast that makes up the new voices of the jungle are incredibly underused. Beyonce and Donald Glover get so little to do with their versions of Nala and Simba that you wonder if their performance was really worth the price they commanded. (I’d say no.)
That the cast is so stacked from top to bottom, makes me wonder if there isn’t some strange cut out there with an extra hour or two of scenes that let these actors act and not just recite well tread paths from 25 years ago. The best bits we get are Eichner and Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa and the one real laugh in my audience is when Rogen is allowed to sing past the original lyrics.
With all that, you have to wonder. Will Disney keep pumping millions into these (I can’t even call them re-imaginings so I guess just movies is fine) movies? Or will they start allowing new voices to stretch the subject matter in different directions and be given the chance to make something unique and new for themselves. We’ll see.
For now, let me leave you with this: Somebody deepfaked the new Lion King with the original animated faces.