Anyone who knows me knows I love Disney. It's now a running joke in my family to see who can stump me with any Disney trivia or news. Spoiler: they almost never catch me unawares 😉 .
Having been born in 1995, I'm of the age that grew up on the Disney Renaissance films of the 90s, only to move directly on to the Disney Channel as they emerged as a powerhouse in TV. Having said that, I must say I have generally been a fan of the live-action remakes and sequels of the Disney classic films. While obviously, none have lived up to the magic of the originals (with the possible exception of The Jungle Book. Comment below if you want to try to change my mind!), I did have high hopes for The Lion King. It had everything needed to succeed: one of the most prestigious and talented casts ever assembled, Disney king Jon Favreau, opens a new window directing, Sir Elton John, opens a new window contributing musically, and the legendary source material (arguably one of the best movies of all time, opens a new window).
For me, the movie was a mixed bag, with most of the parts not only failing to live up to the original but also failing to live up to the standards of a good movie. The hyper-realistic animation was completely gorgeous but also failed to ever fully absorb me into the film. Like most of the other remakes, they tried to update the female leads to give them more agency in the film. While the new Aladdin did this the best (Seriously! Check out Speechless, opens a new window, a new song sung by Naomi Scott, opens a new window, who absolutely kills the song and the role of Princess Jasmine.), Lion King suffered from the same problem the new Beauty and the Beast had. Disney had cast uber A-list celebrities and gave the characters more screen time, without giving the character any new tasks to do or choices to make. It comes off as forced and unnatural character development rather than an integrated part of the story.
Despite my disappointments with the film, I have to say the rendition of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” is by far my favorite new version of a classic song. I might even prefer it to the original. It’s where the superstar casting of Donald Glover, opens a new window (aka Childish Gambino) and Beyonce, opens a new window really paid off. Listen to the song below.
Final note: while going in I thought John Oliver, opens a new window as Zazu would steal the show, I was not ready for Seth Rogen, opens a new window as Pumba. Hands down the best part of the film.
Whether you want to rewatch the Disney classics or discover the magic for the first time, check out some of these titles!
What are some of your favorite Disney films? Share below!