It works well enough when Disney’s live action remakes replace cartoon people for real people, but the CGI animals present a different challenge.
The problem is suddenly loud and clear in the latest trailer for The Lion King. Basically, the animals look so realistic it could be a Sir David Attenborough documentary, but they have lost the ability to show emotion in the way that their cartoon counterparts had back in the 1994 original film.
Take a look:
The cinematography is beautiful, but with the CGI realism of the animals the film has lost the thing that makes Disney (and Pixar) films so special. We want to see non-human things, both animate and inanimate, conveying human emotions. Or any emotions for that matter.
It seems like The Lion King remake creators were shy when it came to giving the ‘live action’ animals an emotional spectrum.
Simba after his father died, being told to run away and never return by someone he thought loved him vs. real tiger cub unhappy about seeing the vet 🤔 EXCUSE ME DISNEY WTF!? The lion king was great because it made me feel emotions via empathizing with the characters. pic.twitter.com/KnLQpJ3iOe
— Holly Bear ʕ´･ᴥ･`ʔ (@BearHybrid) April 10, 2019
If you go back through the frames, the monotony of the character’s facial expressions really jumps out.
Simba in The Lion King remake: pic.twitter.com/NBhaYNWJ9v
— Tom Zohar (@TomZohar) April 10, 2019
Meanwhile, back in 1994, Simba, Mufasa and the whole crew got you emotionally attached by being highly expressive, adorable cartoons.
I’m not saying that the live action Lion King will be bad, because clearly the production value is huge and it will be amazing to watch. Plus: Beyoncé and Donald Glover.
But at the end of the day, the remake can’t achieve the emotional height that the original did, and that secures the 1994 film the spot as the superior film.