I am a massive Disney fan. I am also a massive fan of The Lion King. So my standards – like the rest of the world, I’m sure – going into the live-action film were pretty high.
I was disappointed and have a whole list of gripes, starting with the fact that Rafiki didn’t have enough lines and ending with the fact that ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ happened in broad daylight.
But the main issue for me was I found the remake a little boring. It wasn’t until about half way thorough that I realised why: it felt flat. It lacked lustre. And that’s because of how realistic it all looks. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but you don’t get the same type of magic from beautiful.
You don’t get the same kaleidoscope of colours in musical numbers like ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’: the African savannah is just different shades of brown and green.
And you certainly don’t get the same amount of expression in the faces of the characters. Creating digital animals so authentic-looking they could have passed for the real thing is impressive, but they had no light behind their eyes.
No doubt about it, Jon Favreau is a genius. But his live-action remake is visually not what I wanted as such a huge fan of the the OG film.
What would have been more fulfilling is if Jon used an animation style that was a mix of the 1996 version of the film and the 2019 version. Like so:
When I first saw these^ photos my jaw dropped to the ground. I was
smacked in the gut by how impactful and instantly more emotionally satisfying these hybrid-versions of The Lion King characters felt.
The cartoon-realism of the animation is still impressive – it showcases the development of technology over the 20ish years since the original film was released – but also manages to evoke a sense of nostalgia in me. The characters look enough like their original selves that I instantly feel more excited.
Instead of the above, however, we got something that looks like it should be broadcast on National Geographic feat. Beyoncé.