Guess who went and saw The Lion King Saturday night! Guess who didn’t like it! You see, the truth of the matter, at least for me, is the fact that Disney’s new 2019 remake of The Lion King kind of sucked. I’m sure it will probably still make quite a lot of money for a company that does not deserve it’s level of wealth due to its greed, however if you really look at the film you’ll realize there are a lot of problems with it and that, honestly, it wasn’t as good as it could have been.
I went in to the theater excited for a movie that I was certain I would love. I left feeling disappointed in just about everything but the animation itself.
I think it’s clear to any who’ve seen the trailers that the animation was gorgeous and brilliant. You can’t really look at the amazing work done by the animators and not appreciate it immensely. It’s so real that, for the most part, you do genuinely believe you’re watching actual animals and not just CGI creations. I’ll give credit where credit is due and say this is some of the best animation I’ve ever seen.
With that said, the movie lost a lot of its magic in favor of showing a story and characters that more realistically matched what animals are capable of. From Simba’s first musical feature, to Scar’s entire character, and finally to Mufasa’s death the move lost so much of what made the original so amazing. When the sequence with Simba and Nala escaping Zazu merely involves them hiding among the legs of larger animals, something is missing. When Scar’s personality quirks disappear and are replaced with him just meandering slowly about, something is missing. And when Simba doesn’t cry, when he doesn’t spend time trying to wake up his father despite his death, something is missing.
Realism made the animation amazing, but it also hurt the film.
If they were going to keep the lines so damn similar, they might as well have just reused the original script to begin with. Lines were so close to the original, tweaked so minorly that it was actually painful to hear the single words they changed in what appeared to be a half-arsed attempt at making the movie unique. A character would deliver it’s line and you would automatically recall exactly how it was said in the original, the single word that changed managing to make the entire thing feel wrong all at once. And then iconic lines, like “oh dear, I’ve said to much” were so poorly delivered that I found myself dreaming of the original film through a good 80% of this one.
And why were 99% of the lines delivered so slowly? I swear, I spent half the film wishing they’d sped up the actors’ voices because I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what possible purpose all this ridiculously slow speech served for the movie.
It was massively annoying.
And truthfully, it was most annoying with the scene in which Nala and Simba are reunited as adults. The “disappointed” line, delivered in the same slow and unfortunate tone of the rest of the film, basically embodied my feelings by that point.
If you’re going to change the script in order to be unique, you need to change it in a way that will result in people leaving impressed or feeling as though those changes helped rather than believing the changes were useless and wishing that they’d just kept it the same.
Now, I’ll give the film this: they did an amazing job with Timon, Pumba, and Zazu. Excluding the sometimes too slow speech of Zazu, these characters could not have been more perfect from animation to characterization to lines. I had no complaints whatsoever about these three characters. And that’s where it gets sad and potentially detrimental to the film. The three best characters should not be the supporting characters, they should not be those typically used as comic relief.
There was so much need for improvement with all the main characters in general, but by far the worst offender was Scar. Nothing about him worked for the film and I consistently found myself comparing him to Jeremy Irons. I kept waiting for his dramatic flair, but they just turned him into a depressed character who was actually somewhat cringey at times with how he treated Sarabi.
Ultimately, I wasn’t impressed at all.
As far as the other characters go–and most depressingly, even Simba and Nala–unlike in the original movie, I never once felt emotionally connected with them. And that, with a movie like this, is a problem. This likely had something to do with the fact that many of their interactions, especially as adults, felt somewhat stunted and never really made me feel like their connection was all that strong. Their frolicking moments weren’t as fun as they were in the original, either.
At the end of the day, I feel as though I should have left happy with the differences between the films in order for this one to be something I would consider a success. But the fact of the matter is that I hated nearly everything they changed barring the animation and some bits with Timon and Pumbaa. That doesn’t leave me feeling as though this film worked. And while this movie will definitely leave making Disney a crazy amount of money, it still is not something I would consider a success the moment the conversation moves past the brilliance of animation.