‘The Lion King’ is a dutiful recreation of a beloved classic: Review

There’s nothing really wrong with the new Lion King.

The story is a classic for a reason. The animation is stunning, so lifelike it’d be borderline terrifying if it weren’t so cute. The music, by Hans Zimmer, remains irresistible, and that original track by Beyoncé feels like a welcome addition rather than an intrusive one (as Jasmine’s new number in the recent Aladdin remake did).

Oh, and speaking of Ms. Knowles-Carter, that voice cast is top-notch, too. She brings soul and depth to Nala, John Oliver sounds like he was born to play Zazu, and Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner damn near steal the whole show as Pumbaa and Timon.

It’s clear that no expense was spared, that no detail was too small to fret over, that a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into ensuring that the new Lion King would deliver everything fans loved about the old Lion King. This is no lazy cash grab. It’s a lovingly envisioned, lavishly produced, and painstakingly crafted cash grab. And it’s not much more than that. 

It tries to be, I suppose. The remake runs about half an hour longer than usual, to let beloved scenes linger longer than they used to (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is practically a full-fledged musical number now), and to add a few new scenes for supporting characters like Nala. 

Yet none of this amounts to anything fresh or new or vital. The remake doesn’t deepen our understanding of these characters, or this story, or this world, in any significant way. It doesn’t offer any new insights into the story’s themes, or update any of its lessons for a new era. The Lion King is content to simply run through the same motions all over again, just with newer, shinier tools. 

Zazu and Simba: new look, same hilarious dynamic.

Zazu and Simba: new look, same hilarious dynamic.

The 2019 version does inspire a renewed appreciation of the original, but probably not the ways it intends to. Mostly, it becomes a reminder that there are things traditional animation can get away with that photorealistic animation cannot. Like stack animals on top of each other for a choreographed dance number — in the new iteration, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” is reduced to some shots of frolicking animals.

Or, for that matter, sell us on the idea of these lions to begin with. There’s only so far an animator can push a cat’s facial or body language before they cease to look believable. So we’re left with a serious disconnect in moments like Mufasa’s death, where the voice actor’s teary panic becomes difficult to reconcile with the dry-eyed, relatively reserved animal we see onscreen. 

There is nothing about the new Lion King that feels like it needed to be made at this specific moment, by this specific team, in this specific way.

Tastes have changed since the first Lion King came out, of course, and it’s quite possible young viewers who cut their teeth on Disney’s Jungle Book remake (also from Lion King director Jon Favreau) will prefer this style of animation regardless of its strengths or weaknesses. But speaking as someone who grew up in the ’90s, I can’t imagine why I’d ever revisit this new version when the old version is still accessible. 

There is nothing about the new Lion King that feels like it needed to be made at this specific moment, by this specific team, in this specific way. Perhaps that’s an unfair standard for a movie; plenty of projects exist for no obvious reason beyond their slam-dunk box-office prospects, and most of them are shoddier than The Lion King

On the other hand, Disney put these filmmakers and this cast in a room with that much money and that much time, and the best they could do was a basically fine but markedly inferior recreation of an old movie? Really?

In a way, it does seem appropriate that this story of a young prince finding his way back to duty would itself feel so duty-bound. But at least Simba got to spend some time out in the wild exploring himself first, expanding his horizons and challenging his assumptions. 

The new movie about him is all “remember who you are” conventionality and no “hakuna matata” creativity. And while that makes for a perfectly respectable box office king, it doesn’t make for an especially interesting one.  

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f91152%252fff54726e 1020 4194 afa9 e45661fdc8f0.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=afwcbxhaxbbbqhwbr2an cjrfds=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Source

more recommended stories

  • Vizio D-Series TVs are on sale for up to $250 off at Walmart

    Just to let you know, if.

  • Fitbit fitness trackers are on sale for up to 62% off

    Just to let you know, if.

  • Instagram can’t stop flood of grisly photos from Bianca Devins’ murder

    Instagram users are stepping up to.

  • SanDisk microSDXC card for Nintendo Switch for under £18

    Just to let you know, if.

  • New York City blackouts always bring the wildest photos

    It’s rare to catch New York.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‏joins chorus of facial recognition critics

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows what’s coming down.

  • Netflix’s ‘Point Blank’ fails Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie: Review

    The following is a spoiler-free review.

  • Super Mario Party, Breville Espresso Maker, Beats Solo3, and more deals for July 12

    For all you Nintendo Switch owners,.

  • ‘Stranger Things’ Monopoly game available for pre-order

    Just to let you know, if.

  • Lyft self-driving cars offer tactile maps, diagrams for blind riders

    Aptiv’s self-driving cars on the Lyft.

  • PS4 games, Sony speakers, Philips juicers, Logitech headsets, Kenwood stand mixers, and more on sale for July 9 in the UK

    Here’s some good news for anyone.

  • Watch Gordon Ramsay teach Lil Nas X how to make a panini

    Lil Nas X is a bonafide.

  • Vets treat ‘exotic’ bird, realize it’s just a seagull covered in curry

    An orange bird saved by passersby.

  • Why that devastating finale is a fake out

    This post contains spoilers for Season.

  • 10 deals on cool gadgets that’ll help you stay organized

    Just to let you know, if.

  • Genius creates a ‘Simpsons’- inspired steamed hams level using ‘Mario Maker 2’

    Proving there is no end to.

  • Apple works to resolve iCloud issues after outages reported

    Reports of iCloud outages made the.

  • Hey drivers, use this to discover how much Uber and Lyft take from you

    Uber and Lyft keep changing how.

  • The hard truth about California’s massive tree die-offs

    The number, so far, is over.

  • This Frigidaire retro mini fridge is on sale for $119 at Walmart

    Just to let you know, if.

  • iPhone game helps heart surgeons save lives

    Sam Glassenberg is no doctor, but.

  • Revolut launches new, effortless way to donate to charities

    Revolut is a UK-based financial services company.

  • This Amazon Web Services online course could help you kick off a new career

    Just to let you know, if.

  • Stormzy’s Glastonbury Festival set featured a badass BSL interpreter

    The U.K. grime star Stormzy staged.

  • Second U.S. city passes ban on facial recognition tech

    Image: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images Michael Kan.

  • Marianne Williamson’s oddball debate answers have made her into a meme

    If you found yourself thinking, “Who.

  • World cup soccer player Jessica McDonald being reunited with her son is super heartwarming

    If you haven’t cried yet today,.

  • JBL Pulse 3 waterproof speaker is on sale for $50 off at Walmart

    Just to let you know, if.

  • Gritty surprises kid with custom Gritty prosthetic leg

    Gritty is so many things, but.

  • Microsoft’s foldable Surface could support Android apps

    ““““`Microsoft’s next Surface could be unlike.

  • Elon Musk’s tweet about Mars is confusing the internet

    A few weeks ago, U.S. president.

  • The fat bear cams are back in business for 2019

    It’s high time to devour 4,500-calorie.