Disney’s The Lion King is one of the House of Mouse’s most beloved classics. The majestic animation, the outstanding songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, the wildly inaccurate zoological detail…it blew minds when it came out and has won hearts in the decades since. So why make a live-action version?
As with all the live-action Disney remakes, the answer is, “Because we bloody well can”. The new trailer for The Lion King (2019) gives us a sneak peek as to what we have in store, and what we have in store looks like…well, the old Lion King but more realistic.
The first thing to note is that “live-action” is a pretty loose way of describing it. Every character in The Lion King is an animal, and as with Disney’s The Jungle Book remake, every animal is CGI, so unless they’ve snuck in a wacky comic relief poacher somewhere, we probably won’t be seeing any actual flesh-and-blood performers. What we will see are animals that really look like animals.
Well, to a certain extent. In the trailer, the animals we see up close – including Simba himself and the wise mandrill Rafiki – look…good, but not quite natural. But maybe that’s because they’re acting so unnaturally. The Lion King is, after all, the story not only of singing, dancing lions, but of vast populations of prey animals who willingly bow down before the people who are going to kill and eat them. Somehow it was easier to suspend the disbelief when they were all cartoons.
What we see in the trailer looks like a stock-standard retread of the 1994 classic, but at the helm is director Jon Favreau – who wrung beauty from The Jungle Book – and they’ve got James Earl Jones back, so they’re definitely doing something right. It seems worth giving the Circle of Life another spin.