Image: James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and John Oliver in The Lion King © Property of Disney Inc. [Source: IMDB]
After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.
Director: Jon Favreau. Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, James Earl Jones, Billy Eichner, Eric André [PG]
The unfathomable comedic irony of the repeated calling this remake a “live-action” while they supposedly only featured one live scene and managed to be far more artificial than its animated original. It’s by far the biggest gripe I have with this movie and what decimates the entire picture to its doom.
The returning cast, as well as its star-studded flashy new ensemble, are flat and lifeless in their roles. Even the most memorable of voice acting casting past, James Earl Jones manages to deliver a performance that echoes the tired, regurgitation of the rest of the film. There is a couple of stand out moments in terms of actors bringing their part to life but for the most part, the characters we see are as lifeless and animatronic as an amusement ride at Disneyland. It’s a very strange problem to encounter on a film being made to give a classic a facelift and introduce it to a new generation. While it does bring the same narrative beats and plot points, somehow the tone is far different and way off what the original managed to sink into the hearts of audiences throughout the latter 90s.
This Lion King, however, does at least succeed in its goal of giving the original a facelift for a new generation and their expectation of cinema. I think we all presume this was just Disney trying to fleece another easy buck out of a film we’ve all seen a million times. Yet we all turned up for this none the less, and I suspect many will be pleased with what they saw as it is vaguely “the same”. Despite that, the film does look terrific, very appealing and almost lifelike without stepping close to the uncanny valley.
There is not too much to address when it comes to the Lion King. It’s the same movie but quite simply worse. The tone is off, the comedy never hits, the performances are flat and the whole mood of the film is artificial. Subtracting all the emotional weight from the narrative and the big moments that the original Lion King burned into your memory becoming a point of reference for your entire life. When you truly remember how impactful the original Lion King was and why a lot of people adore this film, it becomes increasingly difficult to cut this new Lion King any slack for a regurgitated story that barely scratches the surface while it’s original soars mountain tops.