It is commonly accepted that you—yes, you—like the original animated film
The Jon Favreau-helmed
The bad news for those dangling by a thread from the former mindset is that even its most faithful replications fall shy of that managed by the OG
But whatever measures were taken to find humanity in the faces of photoreal lions, hornbills, and warthogs seem to have fallen shy of their goal. Voice actor JD McCrary performs young Simba as plucky and precocious in his brighter moments and downright shattered at his darkest—you know which part I’m talking about. (And make no mistake about this: young Simba is invariably cute. Sometimes miraculously cute.) But so committed is
While the commanding timber of Beyoncé carries almost enough natural authority and showmanship as not to be undone by the stoic design of her leonine vessel, adult Nala, Donald Glover’s softer and more naturalistic approach is whittled down to a greater degree by the expressionless face of adult Simba. But perhaps the biggest casualty of this overarching misstep is Scar, whose would-be dynamism (courtesy of Chiwetel Eijiofor) is reduced to one long stony scowl. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but “Be Prepared” is limited to a few seconds of spoken-word poetry, with nary a sashay to speak of.
This doesn’t take quite as big a toll on the comic performances. John Oliver proves tailor-made for the persnickety hornbill Zazu, mixing his neurotic charm into a read on the character first cooked up by Rowan Atkinson. On the same token, Billy Eichner trades in Nathan Lane’s snide take on Timon the meerkat in favor of his well-documented brand of hysterics, reaping plenty of hysterical line readings that nevertheless feel ill-fitting of such an otherwise self-serious picture.
If you’re beginning to resent how often this review harks back to
With only a select few narrative deviations from the original (probably the most significant amendment is the graduation of Shenzi the head hyena from wry and goofy, à la Whoopi Goldberg, to dire and dangerous, à la Florence Kasumba… though, frankly, the character doesn’t get a lot of material anyway) and more than the lion’s share of exact duplication of old scenes, Disney’s latest remake doesn’t give you much of a choice but to let your mind return to memories of the original. In fact, it’s counting on that to get you in the theater; the problem is, once you’re there, the comparisons may not work in the new