I took a group to see the new “live action” Disney’s The Lion King, joining a packed house for one of the Thursday opening presentations. I didn’t quite know what to expect, as I have somehow managed not to have seen the animated Disney’s The Lion King or Broadway’s The Lion King, or any other incarnations, sequels, or prequels of the clearly beloved story.
From what I gather, the big innovation here is that instead of animation we are treated to computer-generated “real” versions of the talking animals. To my novice eye this was all quite technically spectacular and those of you into technical spectacularity will undoubtedly enjoy this. But I’m not sure that if your goal is to anthropomorphize a setting and story that adding hyper-realism to the mix is the route to go.
But I will bypass that line of inquiry and say that I didn’t find this particularly compelling or inspirational, and instead found large swaths of the movie to have brooding overtones and the climax to be borderline apocalyptic. The little kid who followed me out of the theater told his mother that he didn’t like it and that it was “too scary.” She started to reassure him and I interjected, saying “Look, when you see a lion falling off a cliff to its certain death and vicious paw-to-paw combat, a little kid is naturally going to be scared…. And did you see that little lion almost get trampled by a herd of wildebeests and then get chased by a pack of hyper-realistic hyenas who were trying to kill him? How do you think that makes your little guy here feel?”
Well, perhaps I didn’t say that, but it wouldn’t have been out of order. The movie does an excellent job portraying the vulnerability and near helplessness of our young vis-à-vis the evils that men do. And I will say that the movie does a much better job motivating how the pride got into its various messes than it does convincing us how they could conceivably get out of them. Yada yada yada, indeed.
So if you are a CGI junkie or just can’t get enough Lion King or you are looking for a cool place to scare the bejeezus out of your small children, head on over and check it out. Unfortunately, a big would-be blockbuster premiere like this generally preempts release of other movies, so the movie selection otherwise isn’t terribly great.
L&D will return with Tarantino at Thursday evening’s opening. See you all there.