I’ll be the first to admit that when Disney first announced that they were working on a “live-action” Lion King film to add to their growing library of live-action remakes of their back catalog of animated classics, I was skeptical at best. For one, the live-action remakes have been hit and miss, with some films positively nailing the feel of the classic originals whilst others… not so much. Additionally, this isn’t even really a live-action film (as I’m quite certain they don’t have trained versions of all of those African Savannah native species just laying around at the Mouse House headquarters) and is really just a CGI remake of the 1994 timeless classic. Moreover (and I might be dating myself here a bit), I saw that original animated feature in theaters with my dad back in 1994 when I was a little boy, so the movie has strong sentimental value for me as one of my all-time favorite Disney films. Up until today, we’ve seen admittedly little with regards to the new remake, and since that initial teaser, I’ve remained a hard skeptic. (In my defense, given the spotty record of these remakes, I’d say that’s a justifiable position to have.) Well, today we received a pretty solid, full-on trailer for the film, and I have to say, I’m actually excited now. Check out the new Lion King trailer below:
The tone of the Lion King trailer definitely captures the feel of the original, and the world looks to have been gorgeously rendered to bring new life to the African Savannah of this story. Each character seems to have been meticulously created to reflect a more realistic, but still true to form, iteration of its classic animated counterpart. Hearing James Earl Jones’ voice work for Mufasa will never fail to send chills down my spine, and the VA work of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen perfectly capture the sound and feel of Timon and Pumbaa, respectively. The new trailer shows off almost shot-for-shot recreations of unforgettable moments from the 1994 animated version, and while we can be certain that the film in its entirety won’t be a frame-by-frame remake, the implementation of these scenes is going to be crucial to those of us who saw the original more than two decades ago. I cannot thank the heavens enough for Disney getting the great James Earl Jones to reprise his role as the voice actor for Simba’s father Mufasa; the film would almost certainly fall flat without his deep and regal vocals bringing the great king of Pride Rock to life. We’ve yet to really hear Donald Glover’s Simba, but the man has talent, so I doubt we’ll have a problem there. At this point, my only real issue lies within the casting for the film’s villain and Simba’s uncle, Scar. Jeremy Irons’ voice will forever be branded into my mind as how the mane villain of the movie should sound, and truthfully Chiwetel Ejiofor’s vocals come across as flat for me.
Additionally, on the matter of Scar, I’m not particularly fond of how they seem to have simply greyed the fur of the character and made him a little gaunter than the lions of Pride Rock. His appearance of malnourishment is fitting, to be sure, as his own pride is not as well-off as that of Mufasa’s, but I’m already missing the more reddish fur and the markedly darker mane that his animated doppelganger sported as his signature look (one that was passed on to his son in the less-memorable sequel). I am well-aware that lions don’t look like that in the wild, but they don’t exactly talk or befriend meerkats and baboons either, so you can take the creative liberties a little further here, Disney. Overall, the Lion King trailer has me a lot more excited than I could have hoped to be. I have my few gripes, but what can you expect when I’m such a massive fan of the original feature film? July 19 can’t come quickly enough, and this will hopefully skyrocket its way to the top of my list of favorite Disney remakes.