According to Critics, Latest Lion King Movie Is Nicely Done But Unimpressive

Image: Hollywood Reporter

Circle of Life” should be playing in your head by now after reading the headline.

No one actually knows the lyrics though, so I’m here to enlighten you – it’s ‘nants ingonyama bagithi baba’, and not the jumbled mess of naaaa zibanyaaaa that you always belted out when you were young. Really takes you back to those childhood days, huh?

The Lion King is a Disney classic, one that everyone of our generation has watched and loved, and everyone still has the tragic scene where Mufasa gets dropped off a cliff by his own brother Scar (TOO SOON) etched deep into their traumatic memories.

GIF: Giphy.com

That’s me when someone says they don’t like watching Disney movies.

I’m sure we’ve all heard that there’s a real-life remake of it coming out this year too – some might even have been wondering how that’s going to work because there’s not a single human in the film, just a bunch of talking animals. But that’s the magic of CGI, something Disney never falls short of, I guess.

Following a bunch of classic remakes from Disney including Dumbo this year and Mulan next year, The Lion King is next, and seeing as how famous the original movie was, it’s got some big shoes to fill.

The original version of the movie, which was released in 1994, hit US$968 million in box office sales and was even adapted into a Broadway stage show as well as more than 20 international productions. Talk about being iconic.

It’s not out yet, but if you’re deciding whether you should spend your moolah to see your childhood movie remade into a CGI-filled talking animal party, don’t take my word for it, but the critics’.

A Letdown

I’m not sure if I was expecting this movie to be good, and it seems like the critics actually do feel the same way.

Most of the early reviews from critics who had a chance to catch the movie before anyone else (lucky) ended in disappointment, the movie having fallen short of their expectations for the remake of the great classic cartoon.

If you were hoping to be amazed and thrilled during the course of the movie, lower your expectations. Todd McCarthy for The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Everything here is so safe and tame and carefully calculated as to seem predigested. There’s nary a surprise in the whole two hours.” Unlike the ambitious and spirited Simba, this Lion King seems to be a tame one.

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It’s Exactly The Same

According to the reviews, the remake is faithful to the original, having certain scenes which are recreated shot by shot, right down to the dialogue, which remains the same for most of the movie. Elton John’s same few classic songs are also included – they took the word ‘remake’ very seriously, I suppose.

Variety critic Peter Debruge agreed with the sentiment that the movie was “undeniably impressive but incredibly safe.”

He added: “That raises the inevitable question of, ‘Why bother?’ The answer can be spelled in dollars.” Money does make the world go round, after all.

No Disney Magic

As I mentioned earlier, this movie is just going to be filled with CGI talking animals – where’s the realism in that, right?

Well, some critics also felt that the talking animals were indeed kind of odd, saying that the movie “lacked emotion” because of it. CGI just can’t recreate the authenticity of real-life sometimes.

In fact, some of them were extremely unhappy with the remake. Vox.com writer Alissa Wilkinson said there wasn’t any of that special Disney magic in the film, describing it as a “bloated retread without a reason.”

Scott Mendelson at Forbes.com also felt the same, saying: “Be prepared for a crushing disappointment.” Ouch.

GIF: armchairanglophile.com

Crushing, just like how Mufasa’s dead body was like on the cold ground? Just kidding.

Still Going To Be A Hit

Despite the less than satisfactory reviews that the Lion King remake got from critics, it’s still expected that the movie will do relatively well and pull in a ton of revenue.

Most of them ended with speculation that the film will perform well at the box office regardless of how mediocre the movie was, and some analysts predicted that it will rake in about US$150 million (S$203 million) on opening weekend after the North America release on 19 July 2019 (we Singaporeans can catch it one day earlier).

That’s a lot of money for Disney, enough to bathe in.

GIF: Tenor.com

McCarthy also wrote that the film “will be duly gobbled up by audiences everywhere like the perfectly prepared corporate meal it is.”

They’re not wrong, though – many people who are curious about how Disney’s going to pull off the remake of such a timeless classic with nothing but CGI no less will still be heading down to the theatres to catch it. Even I might – come on, it’s Disney!

GIF: Giphy.com

The Lion King opens in cinemas 18 July 2019, Thursday – we’ll have to see for ourselves whether the remake will be a hit or miss.