Disney remakes! You either love them or despise their existence. As for me, I like them so far..with a few exceptions (Maleficent, Dumbo, and Alice in Wonderland to name a few). But today, we’ll be talking about the 2019 remake of The Lion King. Despite all the negative attention it received (the fact that it was getting remade and the whole “Disney ripped off Kimba the White Lion” fiasco that is still going on), I really liked it and I would put it on par with the original, since it captures the same magic.
Before you say, “it’s the same movie, only in CGI!”, there are some differences and two scenes, which makes this untrue. The differences come in the additional characters living with Timon and Pumbaa, Ed getting to talk, and how the musical numbers were done (we’ll come back to this later). The two scenes that were added were Nala sneaking away from Pride Rock to look for Simba and Scar trying to make Sarabi, Simba’s mom, his queen. The second scene reminds me of the deleted scene from the original (which was also in the musical) where Scar tries to get Nala to marry him. This makes the “Scar is Nala’s dad” theory very disturbing and weird. I’m glad the remake didn’t do that, since Scar going after Sarabi makes more sense.
Also, personally, think Mufasa’s death was sadder here than in the original. I never cried when it happened in the original, but maybe because of the way the lions look, it is more realistic and therefore sadder. Heck, the stampede scene was more dramatic in the remake because of the well done and realistic CGI. I think Simba seemed more in danger and every time Mufasa got hit by a wildebeest, you could almost feel it.
But enough about the sad part, let’s move onto the songs, shall we? Everyone did a great job at singing, but we need to talk about the elephant (no pun intended) in the room: Be Prepared. As you know, Be Prepared is considered the greatest Disney Villain song ever written next to The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s “Hellfire”. It was originally not going to be in this movie, possibly because of the goose stepping hyenas and various Nazi references, but the fans complained, so they added it back in, only shortened. This change doesn’t bother me since it was either shortened or nothing at all. However, I’m worried about how the remake to Hunchback will do Hellfire, even at all, but that’s another story.
Another additional scene that I would like to bring up is the replacement for the famous hula scene from the original: Timon and Pumbaa sing “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast before getting chased off. I actually liked this moment, even though the hula scene was comedic gold. This change only added to the charm of the remake. However, they forgot the scene of Zazu and Scar singing “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”, which is totally not cool and disgraceful! I’m joking, of course, since I can understand that they were trying to do their own thing with the story. Which brings me to Timon and Pumbaa..Will Smith did his own take on Genie was great and just like him, Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner did an amazing job as this iconic duo. I would also like to bring up how the filmmakers made the hyenas more threatening compared to their animated counterparts.
I enjoyed the fact that they brought James Earl Jones back as Mufasa, but I wish they brought back Jeremy Irons and Rowan Atkinson as Scar and Zazu respectively. That doesn’t mean that I hate Chiwetel Ejiofor and John Oliver, they did a great job, but I’m just used to the other two. I also liked that they brought back the original singers for Circle of Life. They recreated an iconic song with iconic visuals to perfection. With a respect for the original, great CGI, and good voice acting, this film is the opposite of bad and is great for the new generation to get into the movie. I suggest that you go and see it for yourself if you enjoyed the original.
As for upcoming Disney remakes, we have a sequel to Maleficent (ugh, why?), Mulan (PLEASE be good..I’m scared because of the whole “no songs, no Mushu, Shang isn’t the love interest, and Shan-Yu isn’t the main villain” thing), and The Little Mermaid (I don’t have plans to see it). If you want to see these, that’s great! Best to judge for yourself.