Kids, even before seeing this movie, I was an emotional roller coaster in regards to its very existence.
I remember seeing Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book remake and thinking, “They could remake The Lion King.” I had that thought based on how well done I thought The Jungle Book had been.
Now, by the time The Jungle Book came out in 2016, we had already gotten a live action version of Cinderella from the House of Mouse. I saw it. It wasn’t horrible. It didn’t blow me away, either.
We had also experienced Maleficent, which isn’t so much a remake as it is a re-imagining of the classic Sleeping Beauty story. It’s a movie that got the audience to feel bad for the villain of the tale. We got a look at Maleficent’s motivation and the trauma that caused her to become the Mistress of Evil.
That one, I didn’t much care for. I mean, Angelina Jolie was, in my opinion, brilliant (and I don’t even really like her all that much if I’m being completely honest). But I thought this was an unnecessary move on Disney’s part. I mean, completely necessary in the sense that they wanted to make money. But it bothers me that we can’t just let the bad guy be the bad guy sometimes.
Anyway, I say all that because it makes clear that by the time The Jungle Book hit theaters, we were well into a new trend. For Disney, anyway… The live action remake.
I said I liked The Jungle Book. That’s no lie. Frankly, I didn’t much care for the original animated version. That said, I was all kinds of excited when it was announced that Beauty and the Beast would be getting the live action treatment. My excitement for that stemmed from the fact that Beauty and the Beast is my all time favorite animated Disney movie.
And then the live action remake was released.
I’m sorry… I do like Emma Watson. But I hated that movie. I haven’t bothered watching it again since seeing it in the theater. I doubt a repeated viewing would change my mind.
From there, I decided I would be against all live action remakes, on principle. I mean, I was really against pointless remakes before Disney jumped on the bandwagon. I saw the new Footloose once when it was on TV. I’d have rather watched the original. I never bothered to see Johnny Depp’s take on Willy Wonka. As far as I’m concerned, I can go my whole life without seeing it.
But when they announced that Jon Favreau, the same guy who expertly directed The Jungle Book was going to direct a remake of The Lion King, I got excited. And when the amazing cast was announced, I got really excited.
And then I saw the slate of all the other live action remakes that Disney had coming in the next handful of years. If I don’t want Disney to keep making lazy movies and cashing in on nostalgia alone, I can’t be one of those guys who gets in line to hand them my money. Right? I wanted to vote with my wallet.
But it’s like voting for the president. My vote really doesn’t matter. Because these movies are going to make a billion dollars whether I see them or not.
Anyway, I refused to see Dumbo. I haven’t seen Aladdin. I didn’t want to see The Lion King. Because, and stay with me on this, why should I pay $13.00 to see a movie I could watch at home for free?
Here’s why. Remember MoviePass? Well, I got rid of that a long time ago. But Regal Cinemas recently started their own similar program. $21.00 a month, unlimited movies. So I signed up. Why not? Two movies and I’ve paid for my subscription. Now that I’m on board with this Regal Unlimited deal, I figured, why not?
I mean, I really wouldn’t have gone to see The Lion King as my first “unlimited” movie to test out the app. But when I asked my mother if she wanted to go see something, she said yes and The Lion King was her suggestion. Hey, if I’m not actually paying anything extra to see the thing, I’ll see anything. Within reason.
You wouldn’t be able to pay me to see Cats when it comes out. Looks terrifying.
How’d you like all that build up? Over 700 words to explain why I didn’t want to see The Lion King but finally did anyway. I should be a motivational speaker.
Here’s what I found myself doing throughout every scene of the new Lion King. I asked myself, “Was this better in 1994 or 2019?” I can’t think of a single time when the answer was 2019.
First of all, to call this movie “live action” is a joke. There’s not a thing live action about these animals.
Next, they went for realism. And they achieved it. They achieved it so well that I believe it hurt the movie overall. You know what you get when a cartoon lion cub sings about how he just can’t wait to be king? Human-like facial expressions. Smiles. You know what a realistic looking lion cub can’t do, in spite of being given the ability to speak and sing human words? It can’t smile. It can’t make those anthropomorphic faces.
You want a positive? The look of Scar was definitely more menacing than the Scar we got 25 years ago. However, I was underwhelmed by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s voice work. I don’t know… something about Jeremy Irons’ original performance felt like it had a lot more emotion to it.
That wasn’t 100% positive… I know… How about this… I did really like Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa, respectively. I think I heard somewhere that they improvised a lot of their dialogue, and it worked. As the comic relief, they worked really well. Not sure I’d say they were better than the original duo of Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella.
I did like Donald Glover as the adult Simba. But, again, I have to say I was underwhelmed by Beyonce’s vocals as Nala. Ugh… put away your torches and pitchforks. I’ve never understood why 83% of the population deifies that woman so much. She’s good, all right. But she’s not the greatest thing the world of entertainment’s ever seen.
Overall, the word underwhelmed is how I would describe how I feel about the movie. It’s impressive how photo-realistic they are able to make these animal characters now. But it’s just not to the point where it’s been perfected. Sure, we’ve come a long way from having puppies talk in a straight to DVD Air Bud spin off. But if you think we’ve really arrived, just watch the trailer for the upcoming Lady and the Tramp live action remake and tell me it doesn’t give you the creeps just a little bit.