Standing tall on Pride Rock is one of the most beloved animated classics of all time, an honor that only a few films can claim. And without question, one of that select group of films is most certainly Disney’sThe Lion King. Featuring fantastic and iconic music from award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, Elton John (who is incidentally also having quite the year), and etc., each frame and deafening roar was well realized in its hand-drawn style. Yet, returning to the Pride Rock and threatening to topple it all over is Jon Favreau. Sure, the success of 2016’s The Jungle Book most certainly would have given Favreau the clout and Disney the confidence to hand him the reins of such a beloved property. Simply put, the stakes are high, and it seems that Favreau also knows this fact far too well. The 2019 CGI remake of The Lion King seems as if it would be charging headlong into the animated original, sure to shake up the formula and introduce a fresh spin. However, at the very last moment, Favreau and his all-star cast turn sharply away, turning right back the way they came. Yes, 2019’s The Lion King is a faithful remake of the original and is effective in introducing and modernizing the tale for newer generations.
And while most coverage of the film has frequently compared the film to its original, thus allowing many to deem it inferior, a temptation that is admittedly powerful, especially for top-tiered headlines, on its own merits, Favreau does in fact succeed. The film, although based on the animated classic, should be judged on its own and not within the context of its predecessor. And in that regard? The Lion King is a success, being both wildly entertaining and momentously epic in all the right ways, even if its lasting resonance is cut short by a disappointingly shallow take on the world.
What will ultimately sell tickets and make the film, yet another Disney juggernaut is a team of artists’ jaw-dropping realization of the world and characters in seemingly photorealism. As insisted by a marketing representative before the press screening, the film is entirely animated, with each shot created on a computer. Essentially, it’s an animated remake of an animated film. Indeed, when put that way, the defense against the film being a “cash-grab” certainly isn’t seeing any favors. However, for every moment that caused my eyes to light up, stunned by what was accomplished, this direction ends up resulting in some conflicting consequences.