The Lion King remains one of my favorite films to date. Not only does the 1994 film, directed by Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, have its own vibrancy and unique aesthetic that sets it apart from other Disney films, it also has one of the most robust and impactful narratives. The Shakespearian depth to the relationships between Scar and Mufasa, and the impressive character growth seen in Simba’s ascension to power, rivals many other films — children or otherwise.
That is part of the reason why I was skeptical of the remake, slated to be released in 2019. And now, with this teaser trailer being released, my concerns have been substantiated.
Here’s the thing - I don’t dislike remakes. Quite the contrary; a quality remake can bring new depth and perspective to an older film. However, for me, there needs to be that spark of creativity. I need to see that the director is going to be doing something different with their vision of the film, not just updating the previous version.
The best example of this is how David Lowery handled the remake of Pete’s Dragon.
Lowery’s version of the film found new emotional depth, better character interactions, and better performances. It is the exploration of a family, and of grief in the face of profound loss. However, it never loses its childlike appeal. In creating the film the way that he did (Lowery also co-wrote the screenplay), he managed to take inspiration from the original film and find a new lens through which to view it. Not only does it pay homage to its predecessor, it pushes the narrative to new heights. That’s how a remake should be handled.
From the teaser trailer, I have a feeling that this new version of The Lion King is going to be just what it looks like: a remake whose only purpose is to update the visuals of the story that came before it, with no creative autonomy, comfortable just copying the narrative that came before it. While I will always support any project that gives Donald Glover work (in fact, if there is one thing going for this film it’s the casting), this remake feels unnecessary and — frankly — silly.
Time will tell whether I’m right or wrong on this. However, for now, I remain unimpressed.