Entertainment Weekly has a slew of new images from Disney’s live-action (?) remake of The Lion King and they don’t do much to change my opinion that this thing is just plain bizarre. Yes, it’ll make tons of money. Yes, it’ll probably be an enjoyable time at the movies. Yes, there isn’t anything outwardly wrong with it. But it just feels...odd.
The pictures (above and below) make the film look like something you’d see on Animal Planet. It’s more Planet Earth than Lion King to me. Of course my opinion will likely change when I see the characters in action — singing and talking animals is decidedly unlike anything you’d see on Animal Planet. Still, the realistic nature of the CG animation makes the movie look like a real world documentary and not a remake of a beloved animated classic.
Disney was always walking a thin line here. Do they make the movie cartoonish and have it seem redundant and unnecessary or make it ultra-realistic and have it seem...weird. They obviously chose the realism, as they have with previous live-action adaptations. As I’ve said before, that realism works with certain adaptations (Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, Dumbo) but it feels out of place and bizarre with others. I fear that this (and Aladdin to an extent) will lose some of the magic during conversion. Some ideas just work better as cartoons! We are talking about talking lions, after all. But, hey, if anyone can make this adaption work it’s Disney. They’ve had quite the success with their line-up of live-action remakes.
The Lion King roars into theaters on July 19th. It’ll make about three trillion dollars and prove me wrong again.