I’ve written a long entry on how Disney is creatively robbing its own vault to avoid even beginning to try to bank on a new idea. Disney is taking a lot of the animated classics and remaking them as live-action movies. I thought this was silly and creatively bankrupt to begin with, but the next live-action remake is just absurd – The Lion King. The Lion King. You know, the movie about all the talking animals with celebrity voices? The movie with absolutely no people in it at all because it’s about the LION king?
Remaking/rebooting movies is of dubious artistic merit to begin with. Turning an animated movie into a live-action movie seems like a pretty lazy transition. The plot, characters, and look of the movie has already been done. Just copy/paste with real people and fire up those cameras. And while yes, it is true that many animated movies were animated because special effects were so unsophisticated there was no other way to produce the desired look. However, animation is its own creative medium, and much of the reason those movies are classics are because the production crew utilized the advantages of that medium (just consider Fantasia).
A lot of these movies are lazy and the reason is that they aren’t really being remade; it’s just copy/paste, as I said. I think the remakes would bother me less if the production crew was trying to address flaws in the original (like Pete’s Dragon) instead of a frame by frame reshoot. And here is where the planned remake of The Lion King just defies description. 101 Dalmations had people, so there was some live to the action. Sleeping Beauty had people and mostly human faeries. Cinderella had people and some damn annoying mice that were kept in for some reason. Even Beauty and the Beast has some people in it, even if a lot of the story takes place in an enchanted castle with talking objects and a monster. The Jungle Book had only one person and I thought, “This is the limit of turning cartoons into live-action. There’s one kid trying to interact with green screens. This can go no further.” I was wrong.
The Lion King has no people! What is going to be live-action about this? Making animals talk is still essentially a cartoon. At least human actors can bring a new dimension to a character. Glenn Close certainly portrayed and embodied Cruella de Ville and managed to make her probably more insane. Angelina Jolie and her cheekbones could have really brought some depth to Maleficent’s evil (had that movie properly been about her). A lion is just a lion. What is even the point of this?!? It’s still just a cartoon, albeit a much more expensive one. ARGH!