With the full trailer for The Lion King remake being released yesterday, I thought I’d take the time to look through what I think are the positives and negatives of the film from what we know so far.
The Special Effects
Okay, so for computer animation, I have to admit that it does look spectacularly realistic. The fur, the shadows, the light, the landscapes, it looks stunning. The CGI is another step up from The Jungle Book remake which was also directed by Jon Favreau, and I think that, at least when the animals aren’t talking, it could be another revolution in computer generated imagery. During the purely action parts, even David Attenborough may be fooled.
Hans Zimmer is returning as composer, after winning an Oscar for his score the first time around. Hans is known for revamping scores when he returns to projects, so I cannot wait to see what he’s going to do with the iconic themes of the film. I am sure his scale will be even grander, and the updated epic score will be another great addition to his overflowing catalogue.
The Lion King, who’s narrative is basically a rip-off of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is a classic tale of heartbreak and triumph. The characters are fun, and provided Favreau stays faithful to the original tale, it’s inevitable that some tears may occur.
The Film Exists
Okay, it’s a cop out, this is an early rant about the films existence, hidden within a discussion. The Lion King remake is everything that is wrong with Hollywood today and I’m really not looking forward to it. I have been skeptical of this release ever since it was confirmed in 2016, and since then I’ve just gotten ever more bitter about the whole situation. The Lion King (1994, and it annoys me I will now forever have to confirm that) is an undisputed masterpiece in animation, and remaking it is a crime that shouldn’t be committed.
The CGI, while impressive in its detail and grandeur, looks TERRIBLE when the characters are actually talking, and this is something that is never a problem with traditional cartoon animation. It seems like the attitude of Disney is ‘why have it cartoon when we could have it live action” and this is a thought process that doesn’t work, and pays total disrespect to their heritage. Some ideas just wouldn’t work as real things. Flushed Away works because the rats and frogs aren’t real Frogs and Rats. The Jungle Book (1967) worked because it was animated, thus allowing the bears and monkeys to talk, sing and dance without it looking weird. When the new one tried it, it simply didn’t work as well, and that certainly seems to be the case here.
The casting as well seems very ‘celeb-y’ and I’m never keen on that either. The best thing about Disney’s old films were that they didn’t cast because someone was a name, they cast someone because they’d be good at the role. This is not the case anymore, the prime example being Paige O’Hara playing Belle in the original Beauty and The Beast, in contrast to Emma Watson playing her in the new film. One of those actresses was perfect for the role, with a stunning singing voice and great acting. The other was Emma Watson.
In this film, Seth Rogan plays Pumba, while in the original he was played by Ernie Sabella. In the original, Nala was played by Moira Kelly, whereas this time she’s voiced by Beyonce bloody Knowles. The fact you’ve probably not heard of the original’s voice cast proves they weren’t hired to use their fame to put bums on seats. They were hired because they’d be perfect in the role. I can’t shake off the feeling that a lot of the cast in the remake are there because they’re the best ‘A-Lister’ that would fit the role, instead of just being the best person for it.
None of Disney’s releases this year are original films. Artemis Fowl is based on the book series, and the other six of their films are either live action remakes of their classic films, or sequels to existing ones. Disney, who once thrived on their original animated classics, are now so obsessed with lining their pockets that they are stifling the creativity that got them into their position. And I must admit that though I don’t like the look of The Lion King, I think their Aladdin remake looks even worse.
Well, they’re my thoughts on The Lion King, less than 100 days before its release. I will try to go into the screening with an open mind, but I just can’t get over the fact that it should not exist. As a lover of cinema, I hate the fact that Disney are using their HUGE bank to fund lazy cash-cows rather than new pieces of original art.