The Lion King is a roaring disappointment

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Meredith VanSkiver

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I think that the best movies are the ones that make a point—the ones that have something to say. All successful movies have a message, though said message may vary in level of profoundness. 

That’s what makes remakes so hit or miss. It seems like every other month or so Disney alone is churning out another. Some of them add a new plot point, an additional character, or a completely fresh lens for the story to be filtered through. All of them represent nostalgia. 

The worst of the plethora of remakes we’re being force-fed are the ones that only have nostalgia to provide to the world of film. 

Unfortunately, it felt like Disney’s lastest reboot, The Lion King, fell into this latter group of movies.

It was a remake in the most literal sense of the word. Of course, the iconic plot of the 1994 original is the same. That’s to be expected. What wasn’t expected was the massive amount of everything that was the same between the two films.

For the entire opening sequence, it felt like it was a shot for a shot copy of the original. The music, the sunrise, the busy savannah. All of the sights were beautiful but in more of a deja vu way than an awe-inspiring one. 

After that things didn’t pick up, either. The trend of continuing with the original persisted, and while the mirror images of the two movies ended, the plots stayed exactly the same. I’m not asking for the film to divulge completely from its predecessor, but because it was so so similar I knew everything that was going to happen; I felt no pull tying me to keep watching. 

Something worth noting about this flick was the animation style. The film, as most box office successes these days tend to be, was full of CGI. It’s easily said that the movie was visually stunning. All the animals, from the regal lions to the sinister hyenas to the flocking birds looked insanely realistic. At times, when there was no dialogue and it was simply animals moving around the plains of Africa, the movie felt more like an expertly shot documentary than a musical extravaganza; the animation was that realistic.

This hyperrealism, however, was also one of my major gripes with the film. Because all the characters looked like real animals instead of animated ones, it was very odd, for lack of a better word, for them to talk and sing. In cartoons, the laws of behavior and movement are bent, and nonliving things can act as human as possible. More simply, they can emote. With The Lion King, the animals were so real looking that there were no expressions on their faces. When they opened their mouths my brain just screamed WRONG instead of being able to fully integrate myself into the story. 

The music was decent. Beyonce and Donald Glover, the voice actors of adult Nala and Simba, both used their music background to the film’s advantage and sang wonderfully in the film. But, Elton John’s 1994 original score is so integrated into the fabric of pop culture that the new version of the soundtrack didn’t hold its own against its predecessor. In fact, the whole movie could be summed up that way. 

The Lion King proved that if there’s nothing new you can add to the remake, then the original is likely already as good as the story was going to get. And if the original is as good as you’re going to get it, then you probably shouldn’t be remaking it at all. 

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