Despite enthusiastic initial reviews, Disney‘s latest live-action adaptation, The Lion King, is not enjoying an overwhelmingly positive response from the critics. In fact, many of the latest write-ups have panned the remake for its creepy realism and lack of imagination.
Critics seem to be split into two camps; the first was blown over by the incredible visuals, touting it as the best live-action adaptation to date. The latter was creeped out by the anthropomorphic cartoon animals and the failure of Jon Favreau’s film to push the original narrative in new or more challenging directions.
Revisit the trailer above and keep scrolling for our review roundup below.
It lacks the magic of the original
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“It’s distracting in a way that’s not ideal — it’s uncanny and disjointed at the same time, as if real zoo animals are being anthropomorphized.”
A herding of “digital ‘Cats’”
A.O. Scott, NYT
“A big-screen celebrity-voiced musical trying its best to look like a television nature documentary.”
It’s the world’s longest and least convincing deepfake
David Ehrlich, Indie Wire
“This soulless chimera of a film comes off as little more than a glorified tech demo from a greedy conglomerate — a well-rendered but creatively bankrupt self-portrait of a movie studio eating its own tail.”
Be prepared for the photorealistic cruddiness
A.A. Dowd, A.V Club
“Joyless, artless, and maybe soulless, it transforms one of the most striking titles from the Mouse House vault into a very expensive, star-studded Disney Nature film.”
If you nerd-out about CGI, it might still cut it
Kevin Fallon, Daily Best
“It’s imperfect; you can tell you’re watching a hyper-realistic cartoon. But from a cinema-geek standpoint, that at times can be more wondrous.”
Purely based on the visuals, it’s astonishing
Kevin Fallon, Daily Best
“Each hair and whisker on a mandrill’s face is defined. Every creature moves with seeming weight and realism, every landscape looks straight off a postcard.”
Die-hard fans might appreciate the film’s faithfulness to the original
Brian Lowry, CNN
“There’s understandably no interest in reinventing the wheel — or the circle of life.”
And, of course, voice performances from Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and John Olive won over some critics
Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
“Blessed with some excellent voice performances, this new King is familiar but still lively enough to encourage audiences to emotionally invest again in a story they are already so familiar with.”
Discover the early reactions to The Lion King here.
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