Then vs Now: The Lion King

Released 06/24/1994                              Rated: G

If I had to pick one Disney movie that everybody has without a doubt seen, it’d probably be The Lion King. It’s a coming of age story that doesn’t shy away from the notion of bad things that happen and how we deal with them. What surprised me was the fact that this movie was considered the “B” project while in production. They had no idea it was going to do as well as it did.

This movie is full of iconic voices, but none more so than James Earl Jones and Jeremy Irons. To me, this duo just can’t be beat. Jonathan Taylor Thomas as young Simba is perfect. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella as Timon and Pumbaa also can’t be beat. And our hyena trio consisting of Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jim Cummings is a mix you wouldn’t think works as well as it does. It’s crazy how many names are attached to this film. And every one of them were perfectly cast the first time around.

This movie isn’t about getting the girl, it’s about facing life. These are the kinds of stories we need. It’s nice to have fantasy and entertainment, but it’s also good to have some relatable content as well. While not everyone’s father will die by the hand of their uncle and then be blamed for it, death is a part of life. Guilt is too. It’s how we deal with these things that show us who we are.

Released 07/19/2019                              Rated: PG

Ultimately these remakes are losing me. I liked this one more than Aladdin, but not more than Dumbo (which is saying something) and I’ll tell you why: this is nearly 100% a shot-for-shot remake. When that happens it feels like the movie’s using the animated as a crutch so much so that one can’t help but compare the two. Yes, this new version looks amazing, but it’s lost the emotional weight that makes the story so good. All of these remakes have been a fresh take on their original stories; they can stand alone as their own films. This one doesn’t do that, and it bothered me.

Throughout the majority of the movie I felt as though nearly everyone were simply reading their lines straight off the page. It’s almost as if no one informed the actors that the mics were recording. It was very disappointing, really. John Oliver, Seth Rogan, and Billy Eichner were the only three who gave a consistent performance from start to finish to where they actually brought their respective characters to life. And even then I’m giving the top prize to Oliver’s Zazu. He was my favorite.

All of the musical numbers were amazing. “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” was perfect. I half expected the style to change like it does in the animated. It doesn’t, but it’s still great. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” was also brilliant, especially its conclusion. Haha! Loved it! All of the visuals were done very well. The scenery was gorgeous and the animals seemed real. My husband really enjoyed Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Scar. Obviously there’s no comparison to our iconic portrayals, but I’ll agree that he did well.

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