The Lion King Live-Action Blended With The OG Is Exactly What We Wanted From The Start

Less National Geographic, more OG Disney.

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: 

Credit: ElleJArt
Credit: ElleJArt
Credit: ElleJArt
Credit: ElleJArt
Credit: ElleJArt
Credit: ElleJArt
Credit: ElleJArt

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. 

Me^. Source: Giphy

Instead of the above, however, we got something that looks like it should be broadcast on National Geographic feat. Beyoncé. 

Anastasia Did What Frozen Did For Female Empowerment, But 15 Years Earlier

Justice for Anastasia.

Anastasia is the best animated film in the history of animated films. Sorry Disney, but this one stole my heart long before Frozen ever did. 

It has so much going for it. 

First of all, it’s educational. Okay, I use that term loosely because it’s technically based on speculation and Russian legend but it is rooted in some kind of history: 

Anastasia follows the ‘story’ of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. Legend has it that she escaped the execution of her family in 1918 and lived a life in hiding. 

The 1997 20th Century Fox film tells the story of an eighteen-year-old amnesiac orphan named Anya who dreams of the family she never knew. In searching for answers about her past she ends up working with con men who wish to take advantage of her likeness to the Grand Duchess; only to find out that she is in fact Anastasia. 

As a history nerd all of this^ is a big yes from me. But also, it’s just a cool storyline. What little girl doesn’t dream of being a secret princess? 

Dreamy. Source: Giphy

The film also has elements of fantasy which keep it magical and also make it terrifying. Rasputin gave me more nightmares than The Lion King’s Scar ever has. 

Big NOPE. Source: Giphy

Not to mention the music is incredible (‘Journey To The Past’ makes me want to look for my non-existent long lost family) and the cast is amazing: Meg Ryyan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer and Christopher Lloyd all feature. 

But the most important thing about Anastasia isn’t the storyline, or the music, or the cast: it’s the main character herself. Anya is strong headed and strong willed and doesn’t back down. 

She doesn’t develop into a strong independent woman, she is one from the very start of the film and maintains her sense of self the whole way through. 

Back the hell off. Source: Giphy

However, she’s also a little naive which makes her all the more likeable: she’s brave but definitely doesn’t know everything about everything.

For example, when Anya first meets conmen Dimitri and Vlad she doesn’t know about their ruse. She agrees to go with them because she genuinely believes they’re going to help her find out more about her past. 

Like any good animated film, there’s also a romance story. Dimitri plays an important role in Anya’s emotional development: he helps break down her walls and encourages her trust more. But he does not save her – she is not a damsel – Anya saves herself. 


Dimitri gets knocked out half way through the epic battle scene with Rasputin, leaving Anya to end things.  

I still get chills every time I hear her say “dasvidaniya” with such conviction. It means “goodbye” in Russian. But, for Anya, it represents a lot more: in that moment, she lets go of her past and finally moves on. 

Anastasia broke the mould of helpless fairytale princesses and proved that women could be their own champion. It did was Frozen did for female empowerment but 15 years earlier. 

Just like Elsa refused to be confined by her society, Anya refused to let her orphaned past define her. Just like Anna embarked on a quest to save her sister, Anya fearlessly travelled across the world to find her own answers. All three females share the same tenacity and strength of will, and all of them back themselves.

And yet, where Frozen has become a pop-culture phenomenon, Anastasia mostly flies under the radar. 

Maybe it’s because it’s not a Disney film – a Russian princess is never going to be as exciting as Cinderella or Snow White. 

Or maybe it’s because Anastasia was Fox’s first animated film. In the years since, Fox has released huge successes like Casper and Ice Age which have overshadowed their earlier movies. 

Or maybe it’s just because 1990s society wasn’t ready for a hero like Anastasia. 

I’ll never understand why the film is so often forgotten. But it’s definitely time Anastasia got the recognition it deserves. 

Princess Fiona Is The Mastermind Behind Ariel's New Live-Action Look

Love it when princesses support princesses.

Disney princesses have almost always been exclusively white. Tiana, in 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, was the first coloured princess. 

That’s 72 years of Disney without any change in colour scheme, if you know what I mean. 

Sure, we got an Arab princess in Jasmine, an Asian princess in Mulan, Native American representation in Pocahontas, and Polynesian princess Moana, but no African American representation. 

I know. Source: Giphy

Plus, five racially diverse princesses do not balance out the historic lack of diversity seen in Disney animations over the years. 

But that was the old Disney. We have officially entered the new Disney era. In this new age, remakes are the norm and diversity is a key focus. 

When it was announced that Halle Bailey (different to Halle Berry) would be playing Ariel in the live-action The Little Mermaid remake the Internet was split between “this is amazing” and people using the #NotMyAriel. Those who prescribed to the second group of people don’t deserve my time, because honestly it’s ridiculous. 

I’m more scandalised by the lack of songs in live-action Mulan than I am at Ariel’s change in skin tone. 

Also, the entire point of a remake is to remake a movie to reflect changes in technology, social expectations and ways of thinking. We shouldn’t be surprised Disney is trying to shake things up- it’s necessary. 

But Disney aren’t the only geniuses here, because the original mastermind behind Ariel’s new and improved live-action look is actually Princess Fiona. Yes, from Shrek

Case in point: 

Fiona definitely knew what she was doing when she booted Ariel off the beach during her honeymoon with Shrek. She not only got the mermaid away from her man but she did us all a solid. A symbolic out with the old and in with the new. 

So thank you Fiona for showing Disney how it’s done. And thank you Disney for changing the game. 

Tiana was the first of, hopefully, many. Source: Giphy

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