Released: 19th July 2019
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Beyoncé, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, James Earl Jones, Billy Eichner, Chiwetel Ejiofor and many more…
So Disney made the decision to remake loads of their old, animated classic films in new formats and styles to appeal to new audiences whilst offering something fresh and bold to devoted fans of their frankly enormous back catalogue.
Whilst this brave choice has been working for the animation giant overall (which is mainly down to the movies they have hand picked to revamp), some of their efforts are starting to decline in originality. Don’t think that I’m saying this is a bad movie all the way through, it is far from that, but Disney haven’t done much new or exciting or different here. Sure, the fact that this new addition is 100% computer generated is a magnificent achievement in itself (the environments and weather conditions and the animals look incredible), but the pace of the film leaves a little to be desired.
It is without doubt the story that we are familiar with and the characters that we love, but something doesn’t feel quite right.
A lot of disappointment has been felt by many because of the fact that the characters don’t look like the instantly recognisable cartoon versions of themselves that we are used to, but instead more closely resemble the actual animals that they are supposed to be. While I applaud Disney for going to such extensive lengths in remaking this classic, I also have to agree somewhat with the disappointed few. I get that these reworks serve to bring these much beloved tales to a new generation, but the expressions that we are able to read and understand from the cartoon art style of the original is lacking.
Devoted Disney fans are also in agreement that the lack of Scar’s (Simba’s evil uncle) piercing green eyes and fierce looking vicious scar running down the length of his face really dampens his classic brutal and vile demeanor from the cartoon version of 1994. Chiwetel Ejiofor is by no means a bad actor, and he voices the character very well, and is very convincing when speaking with a low, gravelly tone, giving off the evil vibes that make Scar instantly despicable. But the decision to change the look of the characters doesn’t serve this one well. He looks more like an old, retired lion that doesn’t eat a lot rather than the mangy, disgusting, evil crook from the original film.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to enjoy about The Lion King 2019, including the music. The addition of Beyonce Knowles Carter (Beyoncé) and Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) voicing the two main characters (Nala and Simba) as the adult versions of themselves was a minor stroke of genius. It meant that Disney could also capitalise on the fact that they are also fantastic singers / artists in their own right, and they both lend their perfectly blended and harmonised voices to at least 2 reworkings of classic Lion King songs, with Beyoncé also contributing a brand new, original song of her own (Spirit – listen to it on Spotify, its brilliant).
I think it’s also worth pointing out that if a movie is advertised with a plethora of famous names attached to it (Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Beyoncé, Billy Eichner, James Earl Jones) it’s usually a sign that the marketing team is trying their best to make people go out and see it as soon as possible in order to drive ticket sales through the roof as quickly as they can because they may not have 100% confidence in the standard of the film they have made, or because they are not sure of how many people will actually enjoy the finished product (in my general experience).
As I said, this is by no means a bad movie, in fact there is a lot I like about it, I just wish some minor changes had been made in the final production (Scar’s appearance, the style of the characters and the pacing). If you generally like Disney and / or the 1994 Lion King film, you will enjoy this new version just as much as the original. But if you are a hard core fan, you may find a lot you don’t like.