Disney is on a roll, producing live-action remake after live-action remake. The latest live-action rendition of a childhood classic is Disney’s The Lion King. The film has an all-star cast comprised of Donald Glover, Beyoncé, James Earl Jones, and more.
The realistic animation style practically leaps right off the screen. Classic songs from the beloved original 1994 animated feature make a comeback while new songs (including one from Queen Bey herself) make an entrance. The film seems to carry the spirit of the original perfectly. So, why do fans hate it?
Live-action or no reaction?
The biggest problem that fans seem to have with this movie can be summed up with two words: no emotion.
While the animation is stunning and the animals look like you could reach out and touch them, the style lacks the range of emotion and expression that the original captured so well. When characters were killed in the original animated classic, audiences felt the weight of their loss through incredible voice acting and expressive animation.
The animals in The Lion King remake look stiff, wooden, and completely unexpressive. This wouldn’t be an issue in some animated documentary, but we’re not talking about an animated documentary. We’re talking about Disney’s The Lion King, a remake of one of the most beloved animated children’s films of all time.
The original was famous for tugging at heartstrings and making viewers teary-eyed, but the remake only seems to want to tug at audiences’ wallets and make them teary-eyed from yawning so often. The remake earned a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, slipping far below the pristine 93% rating of the original. Ouch!
Imitation is the sincerest form of creative bankruptcy
The next issue that fans seem to have with The Lion King remake is that it’s a shot-for-shot rip-off of the original with nothing new to offer. The animation is pretty, sure, but that seems to be the only positive attribute that the film has going for it. One glance at The Lion King’s IMDb page reveals that much of the writing from the remake has been taken directly from the original animated classic.
While there’s nothing wrong with a little homage here and there, ripping line-by-line of dialogue from the remake’s source material is a tragedy worse than Hamlet. And speaking of lines…
Whose line is it anyway?
One of the biggest criticisms facing The Lion King is a lackluster performance from all of those involved. IndieWire’s David Ehrlich probably said it best when he noted:
“Scar used to be a Shakespearian villain brimming with catty rage and closeted frustration; now, he’s just a lion who sounds like Chiwetel Ejiofor. Simba used to be a sleek upstart whose regal heritage was tempered by youthful insecurity; now he’s just a lion who sounds like Donald Glover.”
The original had a believable, emotionally-charged voice acting entourage from Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Rowan Atkinson, and Jeremy Irons. Even though the film has a largely all-star cast, it lacks all-star performances.
Despite all of these glaring criticisms from fans and critics alike, the film managed to gross $1.3 billion worldwide.
What’s next for Disney?
Disney is still on a roll with its live-action remakes. A remake of the Disney classic Bambi is currently in development, while a remake of Lady and the Tramp is currently in post-production.
Later this year, we’ll see Disney on the big screen again with Frozen 2 hitting theaters in November and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker being released in December.
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