You know the songs, you know the story…the classic 1994 movie has been given the remake treatment.
Last night, I went to Marcus Theaters and saw the new Disney cash cow remake of ‘The Lion King.’ For some background, I am incredibly emotionally connected to this movie. It reminds me of my childhood, the music is near perfect, and the story is fantastic. I just love it…it’s one of the movie soundtracks that I can continue to listen to over and over again. Not only the musical numbers…the score of the film is legendary. You know that music that just touches your soul and gives you goosebumps? The score of this film does that.
So when Disney decided to remake one of my top movies of all time? I had to go see it…and? My quick review of ‘The Lion King’ remake…
A near shot for shot remake, with some differing musical choices.
If you have seen the original, then you have pretty much seen this remake…there are a few new additions to the movie, but it’s pretty much the same exact movie from the 1994 original. While I would say this is a great thing (and in some cases is)…I was kind of hoping for something a little new. Yea, I get it, it’s a re-make…not a new story…but give me something to chew on a little bit.
The stars in this film are Billy Eichner as Timon, John Oliver as Zazu, and JD McCrary as young Simba. I also enjoyed Chiwetel Enjiofor as Scar, at times…there were sometimes he NAILED it his voice acting, and then he had some lackluster moments. Chiwetel just wasn’t as haunting and mischievous as Jeremy Irons was. Of course I gotta mention James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa…the dude just rules and still sounds amazing. Super applause to JD McCrary as young Simba, his voice performance sounded so innocent, and that moment when Mufasa dies? I think JD actually had his Dad taken from him in the sound booth, my god…kid gave a ‘feels’ performance man. Beyonce’ is a fantastic singer, but during ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’…she takes some liberties with her singing where I just say ‘Yea, I get it Beyonce’…you can sing.’ Like a super long guitar solo where there is just too many notes? That’s her during that song. It seemed like when she was singing, she forgot that she was playing a lion, and went full on Beyonce’…which for me, took me out of the Nala character.
Now for the music! They used a lot of the original music, which is great! But there were times where they had this SUPER powerful scene in the movie and the BIG PART of the song just didn’t sync with what was going on screen. Specifically the moment when Simba walks up as an adult to pride rock…that scene in the original was SO powerful with the rain, the climb, and music just PERFECTED that scene….this one? Not so much. I mean, it happened but the music didn’t hit at the right time…so the feeling got lost. You know when you see a band performing and there is this sweet buildup to the chorus of the song? Imagine the build up of that song, your body and mind are ready to belt out that song with the band and it’s your favorite song! HERE IT COMES…YOU READY?
The drummer and vocalist miss a beat….that’s what that felt like.
Little musical cues like that could have made the movie work just a little better. Lion King is not just a story about a Lion taking his place in the circle of life, but it’s the music that brings us to connect to the characters…whether there are lyrics or not.
Overall though, if you loved the original movie? You’ll probably like this one. It’s not perfect and there is a lot that you can do in animation that you can’t do here, but Favreau worked with what he could. He still did a great job visually, but musically? It could use a refresher.