I wouldn’t have expected to like Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin and be disappointed by Jon Favrea’s Lion King but here we are. Jon Favreau showed all the potential for live-action remakes in The Jungle Book, but his Lion King is a cautionary tale about their limitations.
I think Lion King doesn’t work as “live-action” because there is no live-action in it. There are no human characters, so it’s not bringing the animated magic into our word.
The Jungle Book had Mowgli. In Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin you got to see human beings interact with the magic that was previously only possible in animation. Without that, it’s just a remake with fancier animation.
The Lion King is still a world in which we don’t belong. It just looks like real animals now. This also makes The Lion King less innovative. It’s not reinterpreting anything. It’s still an animated movie with talking animals.
Except they’ve made it longer now and ruined the pacing. If you have a 90 minute movie that works, as The Lion King has stood the test of time, the best case scenario is hopefully you don’t mess it up by adding more. You’re not going to improve it.
People liked the Broadway musical so I guess those additions didn’t hurt, but that’s also a totally different medium. Surprisingly, the additions aren’t from Broadway either. I get that you have to have a new original song, so fine, add five minutes for that, maybe 10 tops.
A lot of scenes simply take longer because they’re lingering on the majestic animation. A lot of the additions are filler. That makes the whole movie feel like a test for the animation, which is absurd after they’ve already done a photorealistic jungle movie with convincing animation and a great story.
The Lion King is fun when it changes some of the classic moments to create a new experience. These are mostly Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumba (Seth Rogen) jokes, and they become a meta commentary on Audiences coming to these remakes expecting their favorite moments. The new jokes all work without fail. It’s a shame there are so few of these departures.
The disappointment of The Lion King bodes poorly for live-action remakes of The Aristocats and Rescuers Down Under. Maybe Andy Serkis can do The Lion King with actors actually performing motion capture for the animals and that’ll be better.
The Lion King is now in theaters.