Was The Lion King Remake As Good As The Classic?

Disney classics tend to hold a special place in many hearts and honestly, it’s no surprise. They were there from the very beginning, inspiring us to believe in magic, to believe in the impossible. They took us on a magical carpet to sing our little hearts out to “A Whole New World” and showed us fighting moves as a little red dragon dishonored cows. All these great films allowed us to imagine from everything to anything and so, it’s understandable why we can be a tad bit touchy when someone decides to recreate them. Expectations might be high because it’s sort of a tug-of-war of wanting the same exact magic we loved as a kid to hoping for something new.

So yeah, it can be quite a tall order to fill. Recently, Disney has been trying to do exactly that with live-action remakes of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and more. According to Box Office Mojo, the magical kingdom has generally made successes, Beauty and the Beast earning a worldwide gross of $1.263 billion and Aladdin making $991.3 million. However, based on a report by CableTV.com, the most popular Disney classic across the U.S is The Lion King which means a remake of it would be pretty important. The pressure is on and having just recently watched it, I can’t quite say with a 100% guarantee that it was actually everything I wanted. It was there...but not quite there.

What I mean is, if I had to give the 2019 Lion King remake a score, it would be somewhere around a 3.8. It’s good that I think it’s definitely worth watching at least once but not something I would really kill myself to every really watch again—at least in the theatre. Some things are better as cartoons and I think in this case, it’s true.

But hold up! I don’t think this movie was horrifying or anything, just that it didn’t quite reach me on an emotional level too often. For example, in the original when Mufasa dies, the audience could really see the horror and the sadness in Simba’s face when he discovered his father’s death. His trembling voice matched his expressions and in the live-action movie, that didn’t quite happen. I understand that realistically animals don’t really have expressions but itf felt stiff and odd watching Simba cry over his father but his face look so plain. I felt a bit disconnected from the scene and so if I had to pick which movie did better in those type of emotional scenes, I would pick the classic. As a cartoon, it’s definitely a lot easier to get the lions to reflect their feelings so I can understand why the remake lacked that.

Generally that wasn’t too much of a problem but it was enough for me to notice it in important moments. They did get anger pretty well though. That, I think, was a very clear expression throughout the movie especially in Scar (he was a very grumpy dude most of the time—actually all the time).

The last thing I kind of have mixed feelings over was Scar’s song. Now, “Be Prepared” is a HUGE favorite of mine from the classic, so I expected something pretty awesome in the live-action. But, to put it shortly—it wasn’t what I expected. They took a different take at it, Scar sort of singing but more like speaking very loudly with a bit more tune as the song furthered. I admit, I was getting into it because I get that it was more of a serious tone in the new film instead of the light-hearted sassy one in the classic, but I wasn’t able to really get a good feel for it because it was just so short. I guess I was bummed out that such a huge favorite of mine was concluded so quickly like that. It was like maybe a minute and a half I think (honestly it felt shorter) and compared to the “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” scene, it felt scrapped. Also, the three hyenas in the classic (Shenzi, Banzai, Ed) didn’t have a part in it either and I was disheartened about that because I love me some funny hyenas.

However, not all the different outcomes were bad. They included many other aspects that I thought were interesting like giving Shenzi more of a bigger role as the leader of the hyenas and emphasizing the importance of Sarabi’s status as the queen of the pride. Also, I loved the remake of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”! The waterfall scenes were so beautiful, it was incredible!

Overall, the CGI was astonishing. If there’s one thing the movie got perfectly, it was that. It was holy crap amazing how real the lions looked. That beginning scene with the “Circle of Life” was just life. That was the moment I really felt like I was a kid again, watching The Lion King for the very first time. I swear, I was sitting there with chills as the inner child in me squealed. It was everything I wanted in that scene and I couldn’t ask for more.

Another thing I think was brilliantly made was Timon and Pumba. They really stayed true to their characters even with all the differences. They really gave that humor and light-hearted feeling throughout their scenes, making “Hakuna Matata” as good as the classic (dare I say better?). I have no complaints for them whatsoever, finding them as amazing as they were originally.

Now with everything in mind, I would say this movie was pretty well made. The plot generally sticks to the original one, only adding a couple new scenes here and there to give it a bit more of a fresh look. It has it’s negatives and its positives and I feel a bit disconnected at times, but I don’t regret watching it. I was able to go back and remember how I felt as that kid that watched magic happen before her very eyes and that means a lot. Disney gave us so much of our childhood and they’re trying to give it back to us once again. Although it won’t be the exact same, maybe it can come close to it.