Review: The Lion King

With all the looks but none of the charm this film fails to make an impact similar to the 1994 animated classic.

I have and always will be a fan of children’s films, often creating magic that films for a more adult audience either neglect or fail to achieve. I count myself lucky that whilst I growing up I got the likes of Home Alone (1990), The Lion King (1994), Toy Story (1995) and Hook (1991); these are some of my favourite films that I could re-watch over and over again.

Bringing us back to today and I’m saddened by the state of what we now call a Hollywood Blockbuster, when did ‘remakes’ or ‘reimaginings’ become what the audience wants? Disney, as prolific a film maker as they are, have been hit by the ‘remake’ bug. Ever popular animated classics such as the Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and Aladdin have been painstakingly recreated using a mix of top of the range CGI and real life individuals.

You could ask ‘have they been successful’ and then answer would be a resounding ‘yes’, this is Disney after all but is this the right question? In my mind the question should be ‘did it make an already timeless classic better?’ and here the answer is almost always ‘No’.

This review of The Lion King kept me awake, I didn’t want to be overly negative of the work that hundreds of people put in to make such a visual masterpiece; these people have made it their life’s work to make films for people to enjoy and of all the people that were in the cinema, I’d imagine I was one of very few who didn’t totally fall in love with it. From the midpoint of the film I’d already made my mind up on a quote I would use for this review:

With all the looks but none of the charm this film fails to make an impact similar to the 1994 animated classic.

I should clarify, the looks are amazing and this is by far the best CGI I have ever seen used in a film BUT, looks alone do not make an all time classic. As mentioned by my close friend Jannis, the original animated version allowed for exaggerated facial expressions, something not possible with a close to life model as shown above (unless you want it to look terrifying, see Cats and Dogs as a reference).

Voice acting (on the most part) was fantastic only let down by the lack of Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg and the inclusion of Beyonce Knowles-Carter.

Beyonce truly lacked the vocal prowess I expected of Nala adding her somewhat trademark flutter to the singing of ‘Can you feel the love tonight’; the song deserved better. An addition of a line ‘Lions, Attack’ was also unwarranted; what were the lionesses going to do, leave Simba to be ripped apart by the Hyenas? Sadly it feels the script writers were forced to empower Nala where there was no need, she was already a powerful character to start.

There were positive moments, times that I genuinely thought that the film was starting to get back on track. Timon and Pumba were fairly faithful giving us the comedic scenes expected of them, in particular ‘The Lion sleeps tonight’ was a thing of beauty. Certainly the highlight of the film but not enough to turn it around.

One of the key features of the original film is the musical score, a triumphant collection of toe tapping and powerful songs. The 2019 version sounds off and I can’t put my finger on why (excluding Beyonce and her damn flutter / warble), songs that sounded so warm or fun now sound considerably less so. I think it speaks volumes that when driving home I had to belt out the originals at top volume.

I’m going to stop writing now as I am well aware that the negativity outweighs anything else. The original film from 1994 has aged well and for me, that’s all any generation requires. I accept that I am in the minority but timeless classics are precisely that, timeless and classic; the constant recreation and removal of original idea from cinema will eventually collapse the industry.

The Lion King

4.8

Enjoyment

4.5/10

Rewatchability

3.0/10

Overall Quality

7.0/10

Pros

  • Timon and Pumba remain faithful
  • James Earl Jones is as big as ever
  • The CGI is the best I've ever seen

Cons

  • Beyonce as Nala is disappointing
  • Lost all charm
  • Songs are somewhat lack lustre

WeekendLollygagger

Originator of Weekend Lollygagger and second part of Video Game Basement, Tom is a big geek at heart. Happily doing random things left right and center allows the world to view his insanity in all it's technicolor glory.

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