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    • Keenan Wells

      When the original Lion King first came out, I was 11 years old. It was as if the film was designed for me at the time because I was obsessed with it. Looking back, I think the movie was much bigger than any kid's movie. It was groundbreaking and arguably the best animated movie ever made.

      When I saw the trailer for the remake, I was mostly excited about the prospect of a reimagined CGI version of Scar and the hyenas. If you haven't seen it, you can watch it here. It's essentially a shot for shot remake of the opening sequence from the original Lion King, but in a CGI world. It even has the voice of James Earl Jones, who also played Mufasa in the 1994 version. Based solely on what the trailer is selling us, it looks like we're going to get a meticulous copy of the original, even down to some of the shot sequences and voice actors. This concerned me.

      I haven't seen all of the other live-action remakes of the Disney classics that have been coming out in recent years, but I think director Jon Favreau is talented and probably did a great job with this one. I just hope it's a new twist, or interesitng update on the story, and not a shot for shot translation into a 3D world, which is what it looks like we're going to get.

      One analysis that really captivated me was by a Twitter user who astutely points out how the CGI universe in the trailer fails to use color as effeftively as the 2D version. I thought this was an amazingly spot on observation, and a much needed reminder of how versatile 2D animation is as a filmmaking format, which is something we forget in the CGI era:

      What do you think? Are you excited to go see the new Lion King? How do you feel about Disney's live-action remakes of 2D classics?

      I will definitely see it, but based on the trailer, am skeptical. I hope I'm pleasantly surprised, but this is sacred ground we're walking on here! The original was a masterpiece, and so the bar is already pretty darn high as far as Lion King movies go.

    • Remakes are an interesting beast. because if the original was great you need a compelling reason to make it differently. If the original was not good, you’d have to be pretty confident you can fix it the second go round.

      Far more often, the new versions don’t really save a bad movie or add anything to a great movie. I’m awfully skeptical that a movie as epic as the Lion King can be improved with just a technology change.

    • I have such mixed feelings about these Disney remakes. None of which I've actually seen yet, I should add.

      I'm not opposed to the idea of movie remakes in general. Remakes can be great, and can even improve upon the original. Movies like Scarface (1983), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), and Ocean's 11 (2001) come to mind.

      But animation is such a timeless medium, and Disney's animated movies in particular almost all have timeless stories and superb production values. Some of them have socially insensitive story elements that haven't aged well and could use updating (like the depiction of Native Americans in Peter Pan, or of African Americans in Dumbo), but that aside, most of these movies still stand up well, and it's difficult or impossible for a remake to fully recapture the magic of the original animation and vocal performances.

      If I thought Disney were remaking these movies because they genuinely felt they could improve them or honor them, I might give them more leeway. But I don't think that's really their goal.

      I think they're really doing it for two reasons.

      First, because they're having a harder time marketing traditional animation to kids who are used to seeing modern computer animation, and they want to keep the money train rolling.

      And second, because Disney is painfully aware that copyrights are not perpetual, and as the years tick by, their oldest animated classics get closer and closer to entering the public domain. But by remaking them and "replacing" those classics with the remade versions in the minds of a newer generation, they can ensure that even if, someday, the original Disney Cinderella or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Dumbo enters the public domain, newer generations won't think of those movies as the real Disney classics. Instead they'll remember the remakes from their childhood, and they'll buy those remakes for their kids.

      So yeah. Mixed feelings. I'm not angry about it or anything, but I'm not thrilled about the remakes either.

      That said, if Universal ever tries to remake Back to the Future, I will set things on fire. 🔥

    • The public domain aspect is an interesting angle of this I didn’t think about.

      Ultimately, Disney is going to make a half a billion dollars or more off of this movie so it’s probably a pretty easy green light for them.

      I also think your observation about 2D versus 3D animation might be true, and that there’s maybe just no appetite for 2D animation these days. But it’s too bad, I think we’re missing out. I know CGI will always be involved to some degree but I hope to see a more 2D style of CGI emerge. It’s such a unique (and arguably superior) style of story telling.

      And yeah no one better touch the Back to the Future franchise. It’s perfect as is.

    • I didn't like the Beauty and the Beast remake (loved the original), I'm not excited for Aladdin (even though I loved the animated movie too), and I didn't even bother watching the Dumbo trailer.

      But Lion King? That's got me excited.

    • I'm interested in the remake as I have been in past ones (Jungle Book, Maleficent, Beauty and the Beast) but I don't like this tendency to abandon 2D animation that we've seen with Disney. I'm also not sure if 'gritty' remakes bring any value to the stories.

    You've been invited!