The Lion King (2019) Review: The Circle Of Remakes

Disney’s highly anticipated “live action” remake of The Lion King is currently in theaters, but is it worth the price of admission?

I do not think that it would be much of a debate to position The Lion King (1994) as one of the most  beloved animated pictures Disney has ever produced. You could certainly make an argument that others are on par, but none would take away from The Lion King’s well-deserved spot in the eschalon of 2D animation pictures. The story is well known by all, especially by English majors as they try an original take on which of Shakespeare’s plays it pulls from most. Anyone that owns a cat (or a dog; I don’t know your life) has probably held up their pet and started singing “The Circle of Life.” To say the film has not made an impact on pop culture would be false. To say that the 2019 remake should share in that spotlight would also be false.

In the most uninspired remake since Psycho (1998), journey back to Pride Rock and watch all your favorite scenes play out in almost the exact same way but costing more money to create lifelike lions. Watch as the hyper-realistic, emotionless puppets open their mouths when their voice actors use a different inflection for a line you heard two days ago in anticipation of this movie.

You know how your local high school theatre will do The Wizard of Oz or Our Town every five years or so, and the community still comes out and see it despite it being the same quality with just slightly different actors, sets, etc? Yeah, Disney, the company that could print money that would be worth more than the dollar, decided to do that for a movie.

Lion King Jr.
Image via Disney

That is not to discredit any of the special effects artists who did an amazing job creating the world and the characters that make it up. They all look fantastic—with the exception of how lifeless all their expressions are. Seriously, if you worked on this movie and somehow see this, you have nothing but my admiration and respect as the level of artistry involved will set the bar for the future. I cannot wait to see how that is used to create realistic animals in the future.

The music is essentially the same with the addition of Beyonce belting a combination of maybe five words over a beat. I don’t know why they thought that was necessary, but it is there. Honestly, that’s probably the most apt thing I’ve said in this review.

It’s not even that the actors did a worse job or anything either, it’s just not different or better enough to be worth it. All the characters feel lesser with the exceptions of Mufasa and maybe Timon and Pumba. The only one that was significantly worse was Beyonce, and I was shocked and disappointed by that.

The scenes themselves didn’t even carry the same emotional weight. The animated movie was able to personify the characters and give them features that allowed them to emote. In this one, the story is what is carrying that load. I understand that a child losing his parent would put most people in a state of melancholy or, at least, sympathy. However,  communication is 90% non-verbal, and if that visual element is not carried through, well… It looks something like this:

Image result for donald glover community gif
Image via Universal

Honestly, I laughed. That’s right, I laughed as Simba watched Mufasa die…again. And I apologize if I ruined the experience for anyone else.

In short, the only way I could get behind this remake is if they are planning on remaking the second one and improving upon it. I would be down to see that, as The Lion King 2 could be touched up, and no one would be mad if you improved the story too. However, as is, please just pass on this movie. It does not deserve your attention. Here’s a link to the animated Blu-ray so you can save some money.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Lion King Poster
Image via Disney
Written by Eric Brockett
(Eric is a millennial and thus thinks his opinion on the internet matters. Sometimes he has opinions on films too. He thinks people care. He knows they don’t.)
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