By Tommy Carrico, Executive Entertainment Editor
I have a confession to make. The last time I saw 1994’s “The Lion King” was so long ago, I largely forgot about the plot and characters before seeing the 2019 remake. Not knowing what to expect from Director John Favreau’s reiteration, I turned to the Internet for answers, and I was a bit surprised by the nearly abysmal reviews I found. This lack of understanding, to an extent, remained even after I viewed the film, leaving me with one major conclusion: 2019’s remake of the classic animated film receives far too harsh criticism.
The main complaint about this remake is just that; it’s a remake. Fans and critics alike are understandably fed up with Disney’s recent trend towards remaking older films as opposed to introducing creative new ones. Many argue that Favreau’s Lion King is a cash grab, void of passion and heart.
I completely disagree with this idea. Yes, these remakes do seem to exist largely to make money in the box office, but isn’t that a goal for every film? Additionally, Favreau’s Lion King, while admittedly existing somewhat just to grab cash, is not soulless in its efforts to do so. With stunning African visuals, a soundtrack star-studded with the likes of Donald Glover and Beyoncé, and quite possibly the most detailed CGI I have ever seen, John Favreau creates a cinematic experience worth seeing.
Another main gripe critics make about the CGI edition of The Lion King is that its dedication to realism prevents it from showing emotion in the way that the 1994 original could through cartoons. This is partially accurate; instead of sadness, the sight of young Simba crying out in anguish sparked muffled laughter among my group of high school boys. Additionally, the inability of Zazu, a hornbill bird, to do anything except move his mouth up and down when speaking, left something to be desired in the opening scene.
However, what the movie lacked in facial expressions was greatly made up for in vocal emotion. Sure, it was hard to pick up on what Zazu was feeling just by looking at him, but with John Oliver’s voice, no line was left to the imagination. Supported by voice actors like Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Lion King has no shortage of talent in the recording studio, effectively making up for the awkward absence of facial emotion. This isn’t even beginning to touch on the musical magic that The Lion King is so well known for in the first place; Donald Glover and Beyoncé’s rendition of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” is something I didn’t know I needed in my life.
In short, while not as monumental as its original counterpart, Favreau’s Lion King is a severely underappreciated way to experience the classic story in a new light for old and young moviegoers alike. The negative Lion King reviews are nothing to worry about for the hard-working producers that made this film possible. Hakuna Matata!