The Lion King remake is one of Disney's most anticipated movies of 2019, but outside of new visuals, it doesn't really seem to be offering much else. From the moment a live-action remake of The Lion King - which isn't technically live-action in the traditional sense - was first announced, it was clear the film would be huge. For one, many regard The Lion King as one of the greatest Disney animated classics in history, especially those who grew up in the 1990s.
Besides pure name recognition and nostalgia value, anticipation further built for The Lion King 2019 via the announcement of an all-star voice cast, including Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, just to name a few. As a finishing touch, James Earl Jones was also brought back to reprise his iconic role of Mufasa, Simba's doomed father, and perhaps the most famous lion in movie history. Unfortunately, the more footage that's shown from the new film, the more it looks like nothing more than a retread of the original.
There has so far been two proper trailers for The Lion King - a teaser trailer back in November and more recently a full-length trailer released earlier this week. While they break records, the problem many are having is that both trailers seem intent to simply try and recapture past glory by recreating classic moments from the original 2D animated feature. The same can also be said to an extent about the trailers for the Aladdin remake, another big deal for 1990s Disney fans.
While The Lion King has obviously been given a visual overhaul, and the animals involved are now rendered in photo-realistic CGI, that currently looks like just about all that's changed. To be fair, it's quite possible the full film offers surprise twists to the story and characters that are being saved for theaters, but it really doesn't feel that way. Now obviously, The Lion King itself isn't an entirely original story, as it draws most of its premise from Hamlet.
That said, 1994's The Lion King is an absolute masterpiece. There's a reason fans hold it up as an example of Disney at the peak of its powers, and by simply retelling the exact same story with the same beats and in many cases the same shots, the remake is just inviting unflattering comparisons to its progenitor.
Will moviegoers at large quite enjoy Jon Favreau's take on The Lion King? It's possible. It's also possible critics will like it too. But there's a difference between being a good movie a great one, and for this "live-action" version of The Lion King to cross that threshold, it needs to bring something new to the table that sets it apart from the original. Otherwise it'll always be seen as the secondary option by fans, and probably end up sitting unwatched on Blu-Ray shelves for years to come, while the 1994 movie gets played again and again.
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019