Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba Sithi uhhmm ingonyama Ingonyama
Siyo Nqoba Ingonyama Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala
–The Circle of Life
On the day we arrived on the planet…. Disney was making money, and there is no doubt in the world that the remake of the classic Disney animated movie The Lion King will make all the moneys.
But is that the only reason that they created this “live action” version of the film, or is there something deeper here?
Let’s address the elephant in the room (not literally). It is hard to call this a live action adaptation when there is nothing that is alive in the actual movie. This should be defined as “photo realistic” animation. And, no matter what we call it, the animation is a masterpiece.
Literally, it looks like we have real animals moving around a real landscape in Africa, somehow moving their mouths. The CGI of the film is nothing short of brilliant and a work of absolute art. No matter what anyone tells you about the movie, the visuals are some of the greatest work ever to be seen on the big screen.
Now, the rest.
The story itself is nearly a shot-for-shot remake of the animated film. You know the story… young lion cub Simba leaves his home after his father, the king, Mustafa is killed by his brother Scar. Scar makes it look as if it was Simba who was at fault so he could assume the throne. Simba chased off by the hyenas, finds friends out in the world of Timon and Pumbaa (a meerkat and warthog, respectfully) and lives his life until destiny finds him.
Yes, it is basically Hamlet. It is an all-time classic story.
So why did it feel dull here?
As I said, the movie was basically a shot-for-shot remake of the animated movie, which was amazing, so why is the “live action” version not the same? Why does it feel as if they sucked out all the emotion and the magic from the film? Did they actually turn The Lion King into a Disneynature film?
I think part of the problem was the photo realistic nature of the animation did not lend itself to any expression from the faces of the lions. The mouths were moving, including saying many lines form the original script that never fails to elicit deep emotion, but there was just no expression in the eyes or the faces of these characters and that hurt the feels. Even the big emotional moment with the stampede did not make me feel much and that scene normally destroys me.
The magic was just not there, which made me find the film to be hollow, albeit a beautifully created hollow film.
The Lion King (2019) did not add enough new to it to justify its existence for anything other than a cash grab. Sure, all movies want to make money and there is nothing wrong with that, but when you have an IP like Lion King, you bring a level of expectations to the project beyond just the pocketbooks. Jon Favreau, who did the much better live-action remake of Jungle Book, directed the film that really needed a new vision or something that gave it a purpose beside stunning visuals.
It is hard not to compare this film to the 1994 animated version, because it is so close to it in so many ways. That might be unfair, because that first movie is, arguably, one of the greatest animated movies ever made. If I had to share one of these movies with someone who had never seen this before, I would pick the 1994 animated film every time.
It is actually sad to me that there are many people who will have this version of The Lion King as their introduction to the film. While 2019 Lion King is a visual masterpiece, the rest is a letdown.