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on The Lion King (2019)

 

The full review will be up this weekend on CultofWhatever.com but in the meantime here’s a snippet followed by the final score.


The Lion King is a hot mess.

To be positive, the film has absolutely stunning design. Every animal looks exactly like an animal. Every tree looks like a tree. Every rock is a rock. Every cloud, every blade of grass, every sunrise, every shadow; if you didn't know you'd swear it was real. Visually, the uncanny valley effect is completely removed. There is never a moment when you will see a lion or a bird, etc, and think "it looks almost real, but that little bit of almost ruins it for me." None of that; this is as close to real as real can get.

A+ work by all involved.

90% of the script and score was lifted from the original, and on paper that's a good thing. After all, the script and story for The Lion King is one of Disney's best. Hamlet meets Bambi, with the perfect balance of humor and pathos, and a soundtrack that moved you and brought chills as it reached its crescendos. On paper, this is The Lion King, and if you loved the original you should love the remake. It basically is a pure re-make of the original.

So what's the problem?

It's the same problem that ruined the weird Psycho remake from 1998. That was an almost shot-for-shot reshooting of Hitchcock's masterpiece. And yet, despite adhering so truly to a movie everyone loves, the remake was hated by that same everyone. Why? It's because there was just enough different to feel like a song one beat out of rhythm. It never settled into a groove. It never felt right.

The Lion King (2019) is soulless. It is stilted. The actors---reading the same lines from the original---are horribly directed (the biggest surprise for me, considering the director). Everything was read and sung with all the enthusiasm of a captain's announcement on an airplane. Songs like "I just can't wait to be king," which were presented in the original as lively and hopping numbers are, here, subdued and slow. The moody and chilling and then rousing "Be Prepared" in the original is, here, awkward and detached, barely sung. When Scar bursts into the song in the original it feels organic and obvious. Here, it feels wrong.

Hearing the right words said and sung in the wrong way was like uncanny valley for my ears.

6/10 - The Lion King is a beautiful disaster of a movie, with visuals stunning to the eyes while being wholly frustating to listen to.