This remake of The Lion King has been discussed since it was announced. If it is necessary or not, if the animals of hyper-realistic animation would be able to express emotions or not, if we want to see an exact replica of the original or not... All possible arguments were raised against it, in front of a few voices that urged to give it a chance and appreciate the genius of the visual appearance. We warn you: the reticence was founded. Everything that could go wrong in The Lion King has gone wrong.
The first reactions of international critics highlighted the visual spectacle of the film and, in general, seem very positive. Indeed, it is incredible what has been achieved in animation. A few weeks ago we were fascinated by the level of detail and care in the last installment of Toy Story 4, but they pale in comparison to The Lion King. Hyper-realistic animation fulfills its objective: it seems that we are watching a National Geographic documentary, but is that good?
The challenge that this movie assumes is admirable, but not necessarily what one looks for in a children's movie. The little ones will surely enjoy Timon and Pumba, but everyone who already knew the story will know everything. And this adaptation is an exact replica of the cartoon tape converted to hyperrealistic animation. No spin that gives the remake a little life, no change that causes surprise. Absolutely nothing. The only ones with a little creative freedom were Seth Rogen (Pumba) and Billy Eichner (Timon), who were left to improvise many of their dialogues. Thanks to this detail we can enjoy some new moments of Timon and Pumba, but of course they do not compensate for the rest of the film. There is a reason why the musical is so successful: at least, it offers something different.
One of the greatest fears regarding The Lion King was that the animals were not so expressive, and were not misled. The film loses all the magic of the original to be stripped of the emotion that provides a freer animation. Not only in the character traits: Zazu lacks color and Scar no longer seems inherently bad thanks to the drawing. Nor is it possible to distinguish lionesses and just hyenas. During the song ‘Prepare yourselves’, where before there were impossible shadows and wells that oozed green smoke, there are now rocks and barren land. What a surprise: fantasy was more interesting than reality.
Many have emphasized that the visual panorama is almost prodigious, that it is, but only if you force yourself to constantly remember that you are seeing an animation masterpiece. Actually, five minutes after the movie has started, you forget to marvel and you're just waiting for something interesting to happen that —spoiler— never comes.
This film is a blow to the forehead for all those who argue that new versions of Disney movies should remain 100% true to the original. They must retain their essence, yes, but, as Aladdin already demonstrated, we need to see something new. In that case, it was a review of the failures and the patriarchal look of the original story that made the film something different and knew how to take advantage of the live-action resources to improve the narrative, such as Gene taking human form. The Lion King takes one of the most acclaimed Disney stories, wraps it in a shining CGI paper and hands it to us as it is telling us that it is something completely new, but it's not.