So, this long weekend, I went with friends to watch the latest version of The Lion King. I grew up with the original animated version, and loved it very much. I was excited to see this remake. A photo-realistic version? Yes, please!
It was... disappointing.
This isn't to say that there weren't enjoyable moments, and some reimagining of certain characters that I really enjoyed. Making the hyenas far more sinister was an improvement, to my mind, even more so that they managed to do it without detracting from the comedy of the original. I preferred Jeremy Irons' scar, but I also acknowledge that nostalgia plays a huge part in that.
I am sad to say, however, that I cannot attribute the overall disappointment to my nostalgia. In general, I like to think of myself as fairly open-minded. I'll give most things a chance, largely due to the number of times my cynicism has been proven wrong over the years. I promise you, I'm not approaching this from the perspective of the usual "You ruined my childhood" babies out there. I absolutely loved the Aladdin remake, for example.
My biggest complaint with this film is that either the director or the voice actors fail to understand how important pauses are. Pauses carry a great deal of emotional weight, and do so with so little effort, you really only notice when they're not there. This lack of pausing, to permit non-verbal communication or let the characters emote, left the dialogue feeling as if it was phoned-in. I know it wasn't, but the lack of pauses left the whole thing feeling, well, superficial. Dear Disney, you cannot rely solely on the emotions created by an original to carry the remake. You have to ensure the remake also has emotional punch.
I read somewhere that one critic reviewed this film as passable, if soulless, and I have to agree. It lacked the soul of the first.
I am also no thrilled with the song chosen to overlay Simba's run across the desert to return to the pride lands. The beautiful African-style song was replaced with a pop-style Beyoncé track. I did not appreciate that at all. I figured that they felt they needed to include at least one original by Beyoncé, but I did not like where they placed it. Alright, that one might have something to do with nostalgia, but I also felt that it took the heart out of it, a little.
Anyway, I'm disappointed with this one. I was so looking forward to it, too.
This, however, hasn't coloured my excitement about other remakes that are forthcoming. I am still ridiculously excited for Mulan, who long vied with The Lion King for my top Disney pick. I'm a little scared, however, that it'll prove disappointing. I'm clinging to Aladdin as proof that these remakes can work.
Right, I'm off to catch up on a lot of writing that ought to have been done before now.