The Lion King has just been released on digital and will see its Blu-ray disc in store next week on October 22. And it is time to revisit the movie that was a financial success but failed to please the audience.
Watch below the digital/Blu-ray release trailer of the live-action film:
French-Greek filmmaker Costa-Gavras, when talking about the end of Charles Chaplin's The Great Dictator, explained that "it's the very essence of cinema, the human face. There are great landscapes, great deeds, personally, I think the greatest landscapes in the cinema, the one that says everything or nothing, is still the human face."
In the end of that 1940 masterpiece, Chaplin was looking straight into the camera and delivered one of the most vibrant cinema speeches ever put on film.
I believe that the best incarnation of that particular idea is The Lion King.
Directed by John Favreau, the remake of the 1994 cult Disney animation film tells the same story and tries to translate the emotions of the animated characters into the reality... but through animated CGI. In a way, the film is not truer than the original, as both are animation films. Obviously, the new version is filmed with real locations and it feels visually more real. But is it?
My answer is no. I heavily disliked The Lion King remake and the primary reason is that the characters are so realistic that they don't show emotions anymore. That's the very nature of animals. They don't speak and they don't show expressions the same way that men do. That's exactly why men eat animals. If animals could speak and show emotions in the same exacerbated way that men can, I can tell you that everyone would be vegetarian, but I digress.
There are no emotions at all. Every scene feels like watching a person with no emotion at all – talking. With no smiles, no expressions, nothing.
The animation from The Lion King is utterly brilliant. Perfectly realistic. It's been already many years since you cannot see the pixels, now you cannot even differentiate animation from reality anymore. That's both sublime and frightening at the same time. The first computer is not even 100 years old and already we can produce such marvelous realism. Evolution is progressing so fast that it will probably eat itself... but I digress again.
The music is, each and every time, worse than the original. Obviously, it is a virtually impossible task to supplant such a beloved soundtrack. The opening song is extremely representative of the problem. It starts exactly like in the original film, then a different voice recording makes everything go away.
In the end, The Lion King has fantastically beautiful animation with no soul and no emotion. I see it as a rip-off of a beautiful anime that will please Disney's shareholders but not Disney's admirers.