The first reviews of Disney’s live action remake of The Lion King are in, and it appears the grass may no longer be green in the Kingdom of Pride Rock. with numerous critics not impressed.
Currently at 59 per cent fresh on film review site Rotten Tomatoes, it is sitting only slightly above the previous Disney live-action remake Aladdin, which scored a less-then-stellar 57 per cent approval among reviewers.
After recreating the magic of another Disney favourite The Jungle Book, director Jon Favreau was entrusted with bringing the majestic African wildlife to the big screen again.
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich was particularly scathing in his review, describing the film as a “zombified digital clone” and a “soulless chimera of a film that comes off as little more than a glorified tech demo from a greedy conglomerate”.
THE LION KING is a disaster.
forget the circle of life, this is the creatively bankrupt work of a studio eating itself alive. it doesn’t feel like a remake so much as a photorealistic snuff film.
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) July 11, 2019
A.O. Scott at The New York Times wrote that “the songs don’t have the pop or the splendor” of the original animated feature, despite featuring the talents of Beyoncé and Donald Glover as Nala and Simba. respectively.
For Brandon Zachary from CBR.com, the new film is “beholden to the original in a way it can never escape”, while “taking interesting liberties here and there”.
Some critics were more positive, calling the film a perfect trip down nostalgia lane despite its flaws. Kristina Acuna from Insider judged the update to be “almost as good as the original”.
Beyoncé recorded Spirit, an original song, to complement the original list of musical favourites, with one critic suggesting it may be a contender for Best Original Song when awards season comes around.
Two things the critics have all applauded, though, are the return of James Earl Jones voicing his iconic role as Mufasa and Hans Zimmer’s memorable score.
Those who love the original will flock to see the film out of interest, and a new generation will be introduced to what is a jewel in Disney’s animation crown. It may not evoke the same emotions as it once did, but the money will flow in and the circle of life will go on.
The Lion King hits Australian cinemas July 17th.