Does the new Lion King meet old expectations?

By Grey Stephens
September 10, 2019

The new Disney's The Lion King remake hit the theaters July 9th, 2019.
The new Disney's The Lion King remake hit the theaters July 9th, 2019.

The new live-action remake of the Disney’s the Lion King movie directed by Jon Favreau released this past July was well anticipated by many. The question is, did it deliver on bringing back the feeling of nostalgia from the 1994 original?

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

The original cartoon Lion King hit theaters in June 1994 and accumulated about 40 million in its opening weekend and made a total of over 800 million dollars worldwide over the years. The new Lion King remake made almost 200 million its opening weekend and has currently made over 1 billion dollars worldwide. With a 25-year difference between the two movies, the numbers show a drastic difference. Both had different impacts on the same audience, except 25 years later.

The new movie sticks to the same plot of young lion cub Simba idolizing his father, Mufasa, also known as King of Pride Rock. Simba finds himself trying to prove he is brave like his father but his longing for greatness soon gets him in trouble.

Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

The Lion King is not only a Disney classic but also a favorite of the millenial generation. What made the original a favorite was the memorable songs, character personalities and tragic but exhilarating storyline. Some of which was altered in the new movie with new but familiar voices added to the cast playing the animals of the Pride Lands.

Since this movie has a fan base in the millennial generation, people were excited to hear that stars in modern pop-culture were going to be a part of the film.

Childish Gambino also known as Donald Glover plays the role of adult Simba, he is not only a former comedian but also a popular rapper. Famous singer Beyonce Knowles takes on the role of adult Nala, Simba’s best friend and future queen.

Timone and Pumba were portrayed by Billie Eichner and Seth Rogen who are both known for various comedy acting roles.

The evil villain Scar is depicted by Chitwetel Ejiofor, who is well known for his role in 12 Years a Slave.

Disney producers decided to keep the famous deep distinct voice of Mufasa the same, played by the famous James Earl Jones. Mufasa’s queen Sarabi is newly voiced by Alfre Woodard rather than Madge Sinclair.

Many long-term Disney fans were especially excited for the soundtrack for the official remake since the main characters are played by big stars in the music industry. The new Lion King album features all of the original songs with new voices which gives the new movie its own feel from the original. The album features the popular duet between Simba and Nala “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” which was recreated by Donald Glover and Beyonce. Beyonce also made a separate album named “The Lion King: The Gift” which was her own personal touch on trying to collect the sounds of different parts of Africa while mixing in her own pop-r&b style.

With new voices, developers and producers building on top of the original foundation for “The Lion King”, there is changes that made the new film visually appealing yet many felt the storyline was slow and it lacked the original energy which made the movie so loved in the past. This could be due to the new computer-generated animation technology in which the film was created.

Video production professor Usame Tunagur commented on the value behind remaking an old movie.

“I’m not sure,” said Professor Tunagur. “What gives the remake value if the remake does not have its own original take on a storyline? Are representing a classic to younger audiences and newer effects sufficient reason to produce a remake or should there be more to it”

“Current visual effects technology can be eye candy but does not necessitate the storyline to be solid or original. If the film doesn’t have an original voice, it will fall into deaf ears.”

Viewers wanted to make the same connection with the new movie as they did with the old movie but it did not happen because it is relevant to the world of today. Although this is not Disney’s first remake, this movie made a big impact on how future Disney original remakes will be viewed. The next movie will be a digital remake of “Lady and the Tramp” to be released on Nov. 12, 2019.

Grey Stephens

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