2019 has been a hell of a year for Walt Disney Studios. They reign supreme at the box office between their films from Pixar and Marvel and now a Disney film enters the arena. A remake/reimagining of the classic The Lion King has come to take the box office throne. What’s it called? The Lion King I just said that. Let’s get this over with.
Right, so the plot. Pride Rock is ruled by the benevolent Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and his pride of lions. Heir apparent Simba (JD McCrary) has been born and so the film follows Simba as he grows and learns to become the King that Pride Rock deserves. Along the way, there will be trials and tribulations (the death of Mufasa, the loss of innocence) but there will also be fun, well we’ll see.
The Lion King stars the voices of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. This is the biggest draw of the film. The cast is filled with impressive names most notably Beyoncé who fans have gone gaga for.
The second draw for audiences is that this is a live-action remake (it’s not it’s photorealistic computer-animated) of the beloved, Academy award-winning, The Lion King. If you’re of a certain age (like me) you’ll remember when the original came out and how it blew you away. It was filled with incredible emotions and evocative performances.
I remember seeing it at my local cinema with my mom and I adored it. I still remember to this day how scared I got when Scar slammed his paw on the mouse. It was brilliant and I will never stop shouting its praises.
A pretender to the throne
The Lion King (2019) is without a doubt an inferior product to what came before. This latest remake/reimagining from Disney is unapologetically a cash grab. There is nothing original, interesting or enjoyable about it. Everything positive about The Lion King comes from the original film which is a timeless classic.
Everything seems to just be operating on autopilot. The acting, the songs, and the narrative. Nothing works. The cast is giving nothing to the audience by way of emotion. An example of this is when Mufasa finds out Simba is in the gorge during a stampede. When he finds out Simba is there in an obviously fatal situation he cries out for his son in a fashion I would describe as slightly irked. What makes this worse is that it is the original actor James Earl Jones.
This casting was very much stunt casting to try and bring in the old fans and it backfires majorly. This is due to two factors, 1. There are slight alterations to the script to elongate scenes and they don’t work and 2. James Earl Jones is older and does not have as much energy that he used to. He can’t sell that he is a powerful lion in the prime of his life.
The lines don’t work in The Lion King
Also much like Walt Disney’s Beauty & the Beast the script is slightly altered and the line delivery is piss poor. The jokes don’t land, the timing is off and certain scenes play out in an alternate and inferior fashion.
Jones isn’t the only perpetrator of poor acting in fact he still pulls it off it’s just very obvious he’s an older gentleman now. The whole cast has much to answer for. Young Simba and Nala are awful giving Disney Channel performances and their adult counterparts don’t fare better.
Donald Glover is something of a dolt and is uninteresting as the King to be Simba and Beyoncé as Nala is nothing but a character spouting exposition. She’s boring and has no urgency as a character. Director Jon Favreau tries to make her more dynamic by lifting lines that Queen Sarabi had in the original. All it achieves is make Sarabi a lesser character in the film.
I now must come to the biggest grievances of the film. First, its villain Scar. Taking over from the legendary Jeremy Irons was never going to be an easy task and sadly Chiwetel Ejiofor was not up to the challenge. He doesn’t have that same ferocity, that menace or even that incredible sass that Jeremy Irons brought to Scar. Instead, he’s the usual conniving villain you’ve seen time and time again.
Not only that his rendition of ‘Be Prepared’ is awful. It’s pedestrian, boring and has no personality to it.
This brings me to what is the source of it all. The CGI animation. It is incredible. I cannot deny that but it ruins the characters. The reason? None of them can emote! An actual living animal which most of these characters look like cannot emote compared to a cartoon version. It just doesn’t work.
Was it worth it in the end?
The Lion King is the worst of the Disney remakes and proves that it doesn’t matter if you have a tremendous cast, director and team behind you. If you don’t have your heart and soul in your finished project it will show because that’s what The Lion King is missing, a heart and a soul.
Stay tuned to Scannain for more and if you disagree with me then tell me why.