If you’ve seen the 94 original, then you have seen this film. This remake of the Lion King has no reason to exist. Well, it exists to make money, and to be one of Disney’s dirty-half-dozen of films which are going to top one billion at the box office this summer. But outside of the purely financial, this film has no reason to exist. It is a poor imitation of a great film that was made 25 years ago.
Quickly running through the criticism, the visuals of this film are inferior to the original. Technically, they are vastly superior, but the decision to go with a very anatomically accurate depiction of the animals leads to virtually every single one of them having little to no facial expression. Every line, no matter how serious or how goofy is delivered with the same expression from the characters. This leads to a severe disconnect, as the lines fail to hit home without the expressiveness of the classically animated characters. As a result, there was an unusually high amount of poor line deliveries from the voice actors.
Most of the actors came off flat with Seth Rogan and Chiwetel Ejiofor providing the best performances- Rogan was the most consistent, while Ejiofor’s performance had the greatest number of high points. The lack of expressiveness in the faces of the characters is the likely culprit behind the seemingly high number of poor line deliveries in such a large scale film. Without the facial expressions to sell the line in the moment, the film relies purely on the line itself, and it often was not enough.
The lack of expressiveness from the characters goes beyond line deliveries, as body language and facial expressions are completely lost in the film. Take this scene from the original:
This moment is important for Sarabi’s character, as she remains dignified while confronting Scar and the hyenas. Sarabi does not get the screen time that Simba or even Nala get, so moments such as this are important for her character development. In the remake, she just kind of walks up there with her head in a neutral position, because the character model had to maintain realism. Without any means for the characters to express emotions non-verbally, the film becomes completely flat.
For all intents and purposes, you are simply watching a gussied up version of hey cat with all the emotional intensity of keyboard cat. And both of those videos are far more enjoyable than a shot for shot remake of a beloved film that has no other reason for existence than pure, cynical commercialism. There is not much else to say, perhaps this film will need to be revisited when it comes time to examine its disgusting commercialism, but for now it is time to move on and try our best to forget about this as we wait for our next opportunity to throw all of our money at Disney.