The Lion King

The Lion King

"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

2019's The Lion King feels less like a retelling of a classic and more like an eighth grade book report hastily thrown together by a student who settles for summarizing what they just read instead of offering any useful new ideas.

After the opening "Circle of Life" spectacle, the film descends into an elephant graveyard of nostalgic misery, knowing full well that if it strays too far from its source material that it will be devoured by the rabid hyenas that are Disney fans. It was a lifeless, computerized experience whose singular breath of fresh air was the perfectly casted Seth Rogen as Pumbaa. The rest of the cast, good actors all of them, seem to be dulled down to a point of boredom, reading from their scripts dutifully as the Mouse instructed them. I'm pretty sure James Earl Jones Skyped in for his recording sessions.

The visual effects, while stunning for the first minutes of the movie and seeming to be one of the film's few strengths, quickly becomes its greatest weakness. Every time one of the computer models opened its mouth to sing, it was like watching a Planet Earth and Glee mashup video on YouTube. I now realize Favreau's wisdom in cutting out most of the songs in his Jungle Book remake.

This film isn't totally devoid of any enjoyment, to be fair. There is a new scene involving Scar, Sarabi, and Nala which was quite good and even suspenseful at times, and Timon and Pumbaa's extended rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was a ton of fun. I suggest you Google those scenes at some point when some hi-def versions come online, and save yourselves from having to sit through the newest poster child of corporate manufacturing at its finest.

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