As I was watching Jon Favreau’s remake of this classic Disney film last night, I was actively angry. I am no fan of Disney’s zombie remake money printing strategy , though to be fair Aladdin was actually kind of a goofy-stupid ball of fun. We all know that the only reason these films are being made is because Disney doesn’t want the IP to go to waste, and because they are making rivers of fucking money by milking our nostalgia and fear of death.
Maybe, we think to ourselves, if Disney can recreate those feelings we experienced decades ago watching these films it will transport us back to simpler times and coddle us in the imagined warmth of our childhoods, when the horizon of our lives was fuller and less frightening. And because life is hard, conjuring those fleeting moments is enough that we will heap money upon Disney and worship her like pagans.
Yet, despite our efforts to beat back the currents with these inadequate tools, time moves only in one direction. Trying to go back is an abomination against God and physics. Disney pumped millions and millions of dollars into this Lion King remake trying to turn back the clock, but all it succeeded in doing was capturing a weak, distorted echo of the past and making that echo the basis of a new film. This movie is like if the memories you have of your grandparents when you were six were turned into a film reel. You would sit there looking at this thing that looks kind of like your grandparents, but moves with the awkward unreality of a memory. It would be terrifying. You would plead with your interlocutors to stop and beg to know why they were doing this in the first place.
The original 1994 Lion King is a masterpiece. The story, the animation, the voice work, the character work, the music. In just a few short scenes the relationship between Simba and Mufasa is rendered so completely and so powerfully that when he dies it feels like the world has changed and you have changed with it. Even to this day I can’t watch that scene without tearing up. That relationship and that arc is so powerful, it left a deep and lasting impression on me as a kid that is still with me to this day.
So why the fuck, if you got it perfect the first time, would you try and do it again? And not only that, I mean that is bad enough, but the new version doesn’t even try to offer anything new other than some techno-mastrubation. Why was Jon Favreau so obsessed with realism? Somehow in his mind he got the idea that remaking the Lion King would be worth it as long as THIS time everything was as super realistic as possible, forgetting I guess that one of the best moments in the original movie is when a fucking cloud turns into a talking Ghost Dad Lion and that, you know, the entire movie is about talking animals with an extremely detailed knowledge of how ecosystems work.
I just am at a total loss to comprehend the decision to do this as a shot for shot remake, with word for word most of the same dialogue. It just serves to remind you at every turn that you are watching an echo of a much better film, a soulless, meaningless zombie of a movie with regurgitated dialogue that loses everything good and meaningful about the original, content to replace it with photorealistic CGI giraffe poop. I actually have more thoughts on some specific things that made this film bad - like the voice acting - but writing about this fucking piece of shit just keeps making me angrier and angrier at the human condition so I think I will stop here.