For those out there saying that critics like me giving THE LION KING (2019) bad reviews, and that we are just “complaining to complain,” listen up: We do not hate all live action remakes. You’ve got some really, really good ones out there such as Pete’s Dragon, Cinderella, and the glorious The Jungle Book (directed by Jon Faverau, who did this, so there is one point of disappointment). We have reasons for not liking this movie. We can’t be like some of you casual movie goers that just loved this because you eat God damn member berries everyday. We just can’t. This film is completely unnecessary. It is literally a shot by shot, dialogue by dialogue remake, with some silent moments or action beats stretched out to also make this film somehow 30 minutes longer than its 1994 counterpart. This movie absolutely adds nothing new. And those of you saying that if the movie added different shit, we wouldn’t have liked it anyway. Not true as well, case in point: the new Child’s Play was a completely different remake, and I enjoyed it mostly for what it tried to do. This is the worst abomination to shot-by-shot live action remakes since Gus Van Sant’s version of Psycho.
And yes, I keep calling this a live action remake when technically it’s all just photo realistic computer generated imagery, and not one God damn human being is in it. But you know what I mean, it’s just easier to say that it is. And I cannot argue, the film looks absolutely beautiful. It is really hard to tell that all of this was completely made on a computer. It looks like they shot on location and just added really masterful looking CGI animals to the mix. I’m not saying it looks bad at all. It will probably end up winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (which I’m fine with). It’s just that we really really really really really don’t need this movie. Gun to my head: when my son sees The Lion King for the first time, will I show him this or the 1994 Animated Version first? If your answer is not the 1994 film, every, single, time, I’m officially calling you out for being a dumb shit. #sorrynotsorry
The 1994 version will ALWAYS hold up. It is still has beautiful animation of its time, and the story, themes, emotion, drama, will always, always, always hold up. So why do I need to see a photo realistic carbon copy? The answer is: I don’t and the reason is maybe something you haven’t thought about. Look, with 1994 animated version, all the characters faces and expressions are in your face, making sure to give that look that will have any you or any other audience member smile, laugh, bawl, etc. etc. Combined with fantastic voice talent, it completely brings those characters to life even though they are obviously fictional. In 1994, I choked up when Mufasa died, I grooved to “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” I was terrified when Simba battled Scar at the end, my pulse raced with the stampede, I felt the love between Simba and Nala in “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” I beamed and sang my heart out to Hakuna Matata. Did I do any of that to the 2019 version? The answer isn’t just no. It’s a hell no.
Mainly because I can’t tell what the animals are expressing or feeling because of all the photo-realistic bullshit. Sure, Donald Glover and James Earl Jones’s voices are supposed to add support to what is playing out on screen. But since all the animals look like expressionless robots, since they barely have any bombastic CGI to make their lips move or to tell what is going on with their faces (I get it, they don’t want to Baby Genuises’ it), I literally couldn’t care less for what was going on. I was BORED. I almost fell asleep several times, and I almost never fall asleep in theaters. I was seeing the exact same story I saw 25 years ago and multiple times since then on video. I wanted some new beats added or maybe something entirely different. Watching the 1994 version and then watching this back to back is exactly if I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and then watched Gus Van Sant’s: A waste of fucking time.
I said they added nothing new. That is not entirely true. I can count what they added new on one hand. 1. There is a new Beyonce song that plays over Simba and Nala racing to Pride Rock to stop Scar (they don’t even sing it, it’s just background race against time filler noise). 2. The Ed hyena now, to make everything politically correct, is no longer mentally challenged, he’s just annoying. 3. The girl hyena, once voice by Whoopi Goldberg, also gets several more lines showing she is the leader. There are other small things as well, such as Nala getting a couple of more lines, Timon and Pumba getting to finish that song lyric in Hakuna Matata that lets them say the word fart, and they also rip off the beginning of a song from a different classic Disney film in order to force the audience to elicit a member berry laugh (I rolled my eyes). But all of it is not enough to make this live action remake really stand out. It’s all unnecessary, and instead of providing enough different content to be more of a companion piece to the 1994 film, it’s just the same movie but with all the emotion stripped from it. All but one emotion, I did almost laugh once. I uh… literally almost cracked up when Mufasa died. For me, it was that bad.
The voice casting is at least half way decent. James Earl Jones still has got it as Mufasa. I thought Timon and Pumba were the best part of the film. Billy Eichner didn’t just yell his lines like he does on his television program Billy In The Street and even though Seth Rogen did his signature laugh, it was ultimately forgivable because he did a pretty grand job the rest of the time, wasn’t just Rogen being Rogen. He made Pumba an actual character. And John Oliver as Zazu was a nice treat as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t think Donald Glover did that great a job unless he was singing. Him yelling at Scar or trying to express any kind of heightened emotion just felt like him reading off the page. Beyonce was fucking distracting because it was just Beyonce reading lines, didn’t really give Nala any unique characteristics, it was just a CGI female lion that happened to have Beyonce’s voice.
For some reason I don’t blame director Jon Favearu for this. It is possible he wanted to do something different like he did with The Jungle Book and the greedy money hungry executives at Disney told him he better not change a thing or they’ll kill him off in the MCU and he won’t be able to direct anything for Disney again. The film looks beautiful, and he did a fine job trying to re create the story shot by shot. I blame Disney completely on this. If they aren’t going to own up and do some original content soon, they need to get bold and do something special with these live action remakes, or all of us, including critics and modern audiences, are going to get tired of it super fast. I’m already tired of it, especially after the one two punch of this and May’s Aladdin (Aladdin is the better of the two believe it or not, and you see how much I hated that one). This whole thing was just a waste of my time, I really wish I had stayed at home and watched the 1994 version with my almost two year old, even though he’d have no idea what the fuck was going on. The Lion King (2019) is one of the most unnecessary remakes of all time, and one of the worst films of 2019.
P.S. The real best part of the movie was not the film itself, but during the trailers, where they showed the new preview to CATS. People were booing, laughing, and pointing negatively at the mo-cap face bullshit horror show that we’ll be getting in December (for which I’m not going to see). One drunk guy up front half way through it shouted out, “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!?” giving me one of the best laugh out loud moments of the week. That question the drunk guy yelled out during Cats was exactly what I was thinking during the Lion King, however I was more serious, and didn’t laugh after thinking it.