‘Just Can’t Wait To Be King’? I Couldn’t Wait for The Lion King To Be Over
To be honest, I thought about leaving after “Just Can’t Wait To Be King”. If we’re going to do a shot-by-shot remake of this movie, I’ll just go home and watch the 1994 classic. It was way better than what I saw the other night.
I came into Disney’s “retelling” of The Lion King with the highest of high expectations. For most folks my age, the OG version is our “Greatest Movie of All Time”. It’s contains the first movie death that rocked us and maybe some of the best original songs Disney has ever made (“Be Prepared” is such an underrated bop). When the film was announced last summer, we collectively lost our minds. Beyonce, y’all. Case closed. But as the release date approached and the reviews came in, many folks — including myself — became a wee bit nervous.
Reviewers hated this film with a passion. They called in ‘uninspired’, ‘pointless’. They even wondered out loud whether this film should have been made. My once high expectations became super low. I just didn’t want this film to get butchered.
You can’t butcher a film when it’s a shot-by-shot remake of the original. From the script to the music, The Lion King sacrificed an opportunity to add some freshness to The Lion King canon by playing it a little bit too safe. I understand that you don’t want to upset fans of the original but this film could have served as an introduction to a new audience who may not have seen the film’s source material. What would you have to lose by making minor yet fun changes to the story? Adding a new song or two to the story like other Disney retellings have done in the past? It was as if they just wanted to make it to Mufusa’s death without jacking the whole thing up. That scene was going to be the bread and butter of this film.
It was. It was the moment when the film finally found its pulse.
Yes, I cried when Mufasa died. I, too, have a pulse.
The movie took a turn for the better after the death of Mufasa; the creators taking some creative license with the storytelling. I loved the addition of jungle mates for Timon and Pumba and the more active role of the lionesses — led by Nala — during the final battle between Simba and Scar. I loved that Seraabi fought back when Scar attacked her. And, yes, I was bopping very hard to Beyonce’s “Spirit” as Simba ran home to Pride Rock. But outside of those changes, the film fell flat.
Minus the voice action, I felt like I was watching a BBC Earth special. It felt so emotionless. This was one of the main criticisms of the film. Without the expressiveness of the original, it was difficult to attach emotionally to the story. Scar wasn’t Scar enough. Simba didn’t look scared when he got in trouble for going to the elephant graveyard. Hell, Simba didn’t even do a jig during “Hakuna Matata”! We were robbed off all of that goodness that the original version gave us.
Many critics wondered whether this remake was even necessary. After watching, I don’t think so. Disney’s live-action remakes worked in the past because the wide capability to tell these stories with real live human interaction. It feels new and different and fresh. This was just a digitized version of a film that kept the same exact beats of the original.
They should have kept this.
We did get a fire Beyonce album out of all of this though.
This is my attempt to write every day in July. To keep up with the series, follow the hashtag #wedj2019.