The long awaited Lion King remake is out, and I have a lot of thoughts.
For those who are new to my blog: The Lion King has been my favourite movie since birth. I’m literally writing this on my bed which has Lion King bedsheets, and theres’ more than one item or push toy with Simba on it in my room (and a few lions that aren’t Simba). Merch aside, I’m pretty sure I know every line, and can pin point a scene based on the score. My bed room literally used to have a pride worth of stuffed lions when I was a kid. I could not know and love a movie more than I love The Lion King, so as you can imagine, I was very much opposed to the remake when it first came out.
I even listen to the score often because it takes me back to being so young that it’s soothing, I love movie scores, and listen to the Pirates of the Caribbean ones almost everyday when I write. Which is another reason why the Lion King is amazing; Hans Zimmer is, in my opinion, this eras greatest composer, so thankfully, they got him on board for the remake.
The original is flawless.
However, it was only fair to give the remake a chance.
I’m a bit iffy about remakes in general, I would much rather see Disney give us some new story’s than re-do their whole discography. I prefer when a movie is make into a new form, which is why I always enjoy books becoming movies (even when I spend the whole thing pointing out what they changed), and adored the Broadway show, even the Heathers musical was much better than the show.
To my surprise, and to the surprise of everyone who knows me in real life – I enjoyed the remake more than I thought I would.
Here’s what I liked:
I won’t be hiding spoilers, because lets’ face it, the original came out in 1994 – we all know what happens.
- It was stunning. Everything looked absolutely amazing and so realistic.
- The Circle of Life was a scene by scene replica of the original, I nearly teared up – the Broadway show had the same effect on me.
- Schenzi was more of a leader. Hyenas are matriarchal so in the original Schenzi didn’t seem as much of a leader and still took orders from Scar. She’s much more sinister in this.
- The score was just as amazing. They added little bits and pieces, and kept the important bits the same but made it sound more powerful. When I originally heard the soundtrack before the film was released it felt a little too boisterous for me, but it’s grown on me now.
- The Be Our Guest reference. There was no way CGI Timon and Pumba were gonna dress in drag and do the hula, so singing the start of Be Our Guest was a great substitute, and nod to my other favourite Disney film.
What I didn’t like:
- Banzai and Ed are gone. They replaced them with new hyenas called Azizi and Kamari, who are funny but no where near as entertaining as Banzai and Ed. The hilarious hyena trio are on of the best parts of the original, and Scar isn’t even friends with the hyenas in this one like he was in the original.
- They butchered Be Prepared. Be Prepared is arguably the best Disney villain song of all time, and even one of the best from the movie. They built up to it like Scar was going to burst into the song and then… just talked it. They originally didn’t even want to include Be Prepared, and the internet was not having that, so it felt like they reluctantly included it.
- The characters are duller: Scar isn’t quite the sassy theatrical villain we all remember and was more serious. Rafiki wasn’t as weird as he was in the original, he was just as wise but his personality was gone. Even though James Earl Jones reprised his role as Mufasa, he sounded lifeless. I understand his voice aged, but the fact that they changed his iconic speech when he appeared in the clouds didn’t help.
- Scar constantly perusing Sarabi. From the beginning Scar makes it clear he wants Sarabi, but what was intended in the original and is in the musical is that Scar wants Nala to be his queen. Leaving that scene out of the original cartoon was a good idea because the song is creepy, but I think they could have shown Scar persuing Nala here, given that he was relentless with Sarabi. They seemed to be afraid to show Scar as evil as he actually is, like how the Nazi-imagry from Be Prepared is gone. That imagery from the original helped illustrate how much of a villain Scar is – he was the first Disney character to actually succeed in trying to murder someone. Nazi’s are bad, Scar is bad, why are we afraid to show that now? Scar going after a lioness like Nala, who is young enough to be his daughter, would have shown a creepier side of him.
There isn’t anything about this version that I prefer to the original.
Beyonce and Donald Glover were a better Nala and Simba than I imaged – as talented as I was already aware they were, I just never saw them suiting the roles. I did think that maybe Beyonce might have actually been more suited to the role of Sarabi, except Sarabi doesn’t sing. Timon, Pumba, Rafiki, and Zazu were great, but I much preferred the originals. The lions themselves looked amazing, but how the animals spoke didn’t work very well, and they couldn’t show expressions like in the cartoon, which is a shame because young Simba gave such an amazing vocal performance when Mufasa died that the animation let him down. Although the put effort into making the lions look different from one another, it was impossible to tell the lionesses apart. They definitely did not have to spend so much time detailing Simba’s hairs journey to Rafiki – and really didn’t need to literally put it in giraffe shit – especially given how rushed Simba and Nala’s reunion felt afterwards.
Overall, while it’s better than I though it would be, it still doesn’t compare to the original.