Disney had one job to do with their not actually live-action remake of The Lion King and that’s to make sure, at the very least, that everyone watching it felt the love that night. Well, the reviews are in and critics are reporting that not only did they not feel the love, they didn’t feel much of anything. AV Club’s A.A. Dowd called it “Joyless, artless, and maybe soulless” while IndieWire’s David Erlich said it looked like “the world’s longest and least convincing deepfake”. Sounds like the only love to be found in TLK 2019 is sandwiched in between the G and the R in Simba’s voice daddy Donald Glover’s name. I hate to say I told you so (who am I kidding, I love to say I told you so), but I told you so, Disney!
According to Variety:
As of writing, the film holds a rotten score of 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, far below the 93% of the original. Common complaints are the photorealism of the Jon Favreau’s “live-action” adaptation: Where critics adored the anthropomorphic singing cartoons of the original, they felt the nature documentary look drove a wedge between viewers and the beloved characters.
— Sean Scalise (@Nerd_Awakens) July 12, 2019
As Variety notes, most of the criticism is directed at the disconnect between the hyper-realistic CGI and the hyper-fidelity to the original animation. It made people hyper-un-hype. Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri praised the animation saying it “possesses all the immersive detail and tactile immediacy of an unusually good nature documentary” but was unnerved when David Attenborough’s Planet Earth morphed into Ken Burns’ The War. (via Variety)
Suddenly, that iconic opening scene, with all the animals gathering to bow before the newborn lion cub Simba, held up like some sort of scepter of absolute power, doesn’t feel triumphant or moving, as it did in its fantastical, animated setting. It feels queasily authoritarian.
And here I always thought Scar was the one who was supposed to the Hitler. It goes, Scar is Hitler, Mufasa is Aslan/Jesus, Simba is Hamlet, Nala is Sloane Peterson, and Timon and Pumbaa are Lenny and Squiggy. I thought this was canon!
If only Disney realised the live-action 'Lion King' we all wanted to see pic.twitter.com/cFtd3nMotQ
— Cam Williams (@MrCamW) July 12, 2019
And as I said before, the bare minimum Disney needed to do was get the damn song right. And they couldn’t even do that properly.
My one tweet review of #TheLionKing is "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" did not take place at night.
— Joelle Monique ✍🏾 (@JoelleMonique) July 11, 2019
Oh well. Disney’s still going to get all its coins, and the new soundtrack will probably go triple platinum. The wait and ultimate let down of TLK 2019 took 3 years from announcement to premiere. And now we have to do it all over again for The Little Mermaid. It’s a lesson to us all to set our expectations accordingly.
Pic: Disney via YouTube