The Lion, the Mouse and the Remake

The Lion King (1994) is one of the most beloved films in the house of mouse, and for many, it is their favorite. For one it’s a great film, however, I think it also has a lot to do with the timing. The Lion King along with the other titles in the Disney Renaissance were all exceptional, and all very much BINGED.

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If you think back to the eighties when the Betamax and VHS started to take off it was still a mostly rental experience. You would head down to the local video shop and rent the movie for a night or a few days. To buy one movie outright could cost close to $100 US, and that was back then. It’s understandable as film studios were scared of home video killing the movie theater experience and named absurd costs. By the nineties, nearly everyone with a tv owned a VHS player and the cost to buy a movie was now consumer-friendly. Enter the kids of the nineties. We owned every new Disney movie, and they weren’t released as frequently as today, so we spent a lot of time binging the same VHS over and over again. We ran those tapes so often that the tapes began to deteriorate. Basically, every child of the nineties could perform these movies off script like a performance of Shakespeare in the Park.

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Twenty-five years after The Lion King (1994) was released, I can still recall every scene. To this day the movie is not dated. Sadly, The Lion King (2019) is not good, but terrible even. The movie looks beautiful, sounds great, yet what looks like live-action animals talking ruins the movie. The talking works with some of the animals like Timon, Pumba, and Rafiki. Just not the lions, not at all. Even the characters mentioned don’t quite fit because the original voices are so engrained into us that we have trouble buying anyone else in the role. Disney really needed to get this one right for the fans of the original. The Jungle Book (2016) worked well because I don’t think we collectively remember the original as well. And from memory, the animals all worked for me. With The Lion King (2019), Jon Favreau shot it to look like a nature documentary and he should have gone all the way. First off take out all the spoken dialogue. Cut it down to eighty minutes. Keep the songs and just play them over the film. Have David Attenborough, or better yet Nathan Lane, the original Timon to narrate the film. These changes would take the movie from a meh to a woah.

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I’m sure there are defenders for The Lion King (2019), but it falls in the same category as live-action movies with talking animals to me. It’s hard to not see Disney using this film as a cash grab because.. well, a billion in revenue already? That’s more than the original made. In another twenty-five years, this version will be dated and the animated will continue to be a classic enjoyed by everyone.

Long Live the King (94)!

Robert Ring

Movies in the Digital Age

I was a serious collector of DVDs from the mid-2000s. I amassed thousands of DVDs. I would buy more than I could watch, and to this day I still own much more than I have seen. The great thing about owning physical copies is the ability to view the title whenever I choose. By doing this I was able to grow my knowledge outside the norm of most. I own and re-watch nearly every television show from the 90s, making it feel as if I spent my teens during that time instead of my 1s and 2s. Then I would have no one to talk about my experiences with these shows because they had no idea what something like Northern Exposure or Twin Peaks is. Streaming has effectively started bringing people that were once like me to the front. I love streaming services for that fact. You get to have all these watercooler moments with people and share in your love for the latest season or movie that hits one of these services.

I rotate between Netflix, Stan, and Amazon. Amazon is the weakest. Stan is perhaps the one I use most, and I think its library of content is similar to Hulu. Netflix is like a made for tv cinema with new attractions debuting every week. Then there are times where I know what I want to watch and spend about twenty minutes looking for it. Alternatively, I search for the title on Just Watch, but usually, I think I remember which streaming service I saw it on, and find myself nearly always wrong. Other times you cannot find it at all. Then I’m forced to search online stores to see if it’s still in print. Even worse is when it’s not available in the country, and you need to order overseas. Look at Say Anything, and it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. You can’t buy it here, and I think you can only stream it on iTunes. I get why some titles are only available on specific streaming services, but why are some just straight out unavailable? Even streaming services only keep content on there for a certain amount of time. And it’s times like that when I’m happy with my collection of physical discs. Overall, it’s not all bad compared to the era of VHS, and at least we all kind of share the same film and television lexicon, while people like me need to help steer others to the stuff, not in the readily accessible content. I like where we are at, for now.

Robert Ring