It’s no secret that within the past 10 years Disney has dominated markets across the board. So it was no surprise when the much anticipated live-action remake of “The Lion King” shattered box offices. With a star-studded cast of Beyonce’, Donald Glover, Alfre Woodard, James Earl Jones, and so many more, needless to say, this movie was bound for success. Bringing in $531 million globally and still counting, on paper this film did not miss a beat.
With that said, how is it that with all the monetary success The Lion King received the film only received a score of a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes? Huffington Post recently interviewed former animators who worked on the original 1994 film and while some had positive feedback towards the remake others did not. The former animators, as well as critics and viewers alike, warrant this to the animation style and to the lack of whimsical feeling. David Stephan who worked on the original design of the hyenas and the famous “Circle of Life” scene stated, “It (the animation) would jar me out of the film, literally. Especially with little Simba walking around. It was too real…And I think it just diminished the film.”
Dave Bossert, a visual effects artist from the 1994 film also said, “I wish they had a little bit more emotion in the character’s eyes. If you’ve got animals talking, you can take more liberties with facial expressions…You’re walking a fine line where you don’t want it to be too cartoony, but I think they could have pushed it a little bit more.”
Could Disney have lost its way by keeping up with the latest technology rather than just holding on to its core mission? It’s unlikely this version of the film will leave that same sense of amusement that the previous one did for earlier generations. The live-action “Lion King” does take away from the emotion of the film with its’ photo-realism but the cinematography is still nothing short of stunning.
Audiences were also disappointed in the pivotal scene with Simba and Mufasa in the stars because of how much weight it carries within the film and how because of it, Simba’s self-realization fell flat. Those who have seen the original know that this is the moment when Simba speaks to his father’s ghost and learns that he can own up to his past mistakes and still take his rightful spot as king with help from Rafiki. The live-action version did not give this scene as much attention compared to the original that put more emphasis on Simba’s decision to learn from his past and return home.
Stephan also noted that “It’s sort of sad that the stockholder is now in the room deciding what movies get made…That is disappointing as an artist, from a studio that was founded on originality and art.
Although there are some who will love to hate this film, Alexander Williams, who helped to create the original Scar said it best, “…Some of my colleagues forget that when you work on a Disney movie, you don’t own it…you get to work on this great stuff…but when you walk away, it’s their movie and they can do what they want with it.” Moving forward, Disney will continue to do what they do best and as an audience, all we can do is observe their efforts to creatively reimagine our childhoods.
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