The King is Dead and “The Lion King” is the Culprit

Bradley Hare

Simba, you really killed him this time.

If there ever was a movie that I am ashamed to admit I had to spend real money on, it would be the 2019 version of “The Lion King”.

Once upon a time, “The Lion King” was the film that made everyone put Disney on the map and cement it; it made them realize that Disney was alive and well. Now, as the latest victim of Disney’s live action remake phase, this only rung out one loud message for me; Disney is dead, or at the very least, out of creative ideas for now.

If you saw the original animated classic, and let’s be honest, who hasn’t at this point, then you already know the story. Lion pack leader Mufasa, the ruler of Pride Rock with his wife, Sarabi, give birth to a cub, Simba. Mufasa does his best to teach Simba how to rule. However, Simba believes that being king would be all fun and games, and eventually, listening to his scheming uncle Scar while being none the wiser, leads him to a canyon and triggers a chain of events that ends with the death of Mufasa.

Simba is forced to run away to escape the consequences of the actions he thought he committed, and after lounging around with his new animal friends Timon and Pumbaa for years, heads back to save the land from Scar and the hyenas he rallied up.

I wasn’t kidding when I said if you saw the original animated film than you saw this; it plays out exactly the same, sometimes even a scene by scene remake. The few things they do change are all for the worse. For example, Timon and Pumbaa singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” takes much longer than before, turning what was once just a silly joke between the two friends into a musical number. Rafiki, the all-knowing monkey, doesn’t teach Simba to learn from his past by hitting him on the head and letting him duck his next attack to teach him, and instead tells him in his own words with no visual aid. Speaking of which, hope you weren’t expecting to see Mufasa’s face in the clouds like before, because now, you’ll only get a light on Simba, and that’s it.

Bizarre choices like these that take away from the story and add nothing.

Not even the visuals are safe from critiques. Africa looks bland and depressing, with none of the color that the original film had. Not even the elephant graveyard looks as different as the rest of the land. The only place that actually does look nice is the forest Timon and Pumbaa live in.

The music just feels the same, beat by beat, as if they recorded it from a laptop playing a video of the original song, with the one exception being “Be Prepared”. It’s insultingly cut short, with Scar not even showing off how much he controls the hyena’s by turning them into soldiers of war through his song. He more or less just talks his plan out with dramatic pauses and convinces the hyenas to try it out.

As for the other songs, the limitations of Disney’s attempts at realism hurt the film gravely. “Circle of Life” doesn’t have the animal’s actually show respect in their facial features when seeing Simba. “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” is nowhere near as colorful or wonderfully coordinated as the animated version, and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” is played in broad daylight; it’s astonishing how they messed that up.

Is there anything good in this? Well, the animals do look realistic, just like what Disney wanted. Timon and Pumbaa’s home looks nice, and the two of them do have a couple good lines.

But really, that was it. I had to dig deep just to find these few positives for the film. If you like this film, fantastic; I’m glad you’re enjoying something that isn’t causing harm on someone else, but this is just sheer laziness at its finest from Disney:

So, this is how the death of Disney is rung out; not with a mighty lion roar, but with the mewling of a cat. Even after this film rots and becomes the grass for the antelope to eat, they’ll rather starve than eat this. I hope Disney makes a comeback, but for now, that circle of life is looking more and more like a line with every movie.

Overall Score: 1/10