Despite what the box office results have lead many to believe, not everyone has been satisfied with the recent Lion King remake. Obviously, numerous animation fans have been critical of the movie for it being deemed as unnecessary and expressionless, but this has also been stated by animators in the industry. This includes many of the hard working artists that worked on the original 1994 Disney classic.
In a recent interview from Huffington Post, most of the crew who worked on the original film were asked their thoughts regarding the new film. Some have stated their comments anonymously, however most were very negative. One anonymous animator stated, “There is a huge resentment against these 3D remakes from the original 2D crews. Maybe if we got any kind of royalties it would be different.” David Stephen, an animator on the original film who worked on the Circle of Life opening, expanded on the original crew’s full thoughts on the remake. He mentioned that many are dissatisfied with the project by saying, “If you polled the crew of the original ‘Lion King,’ most of them would say, ‘Why? Did you really have to do that?’ It kind of hurts.”. According to Stephen, the original crew feels this way due to the lack of originality this project has, being more of a decision on a financial level as opposed to having any artistic merit.
The more vocal critics of the remake have also mentioned about the look of the film itself. While the original animators can admit that the effects themselves are impressive for their realism, they said it also looks rather jarring. They stated that when implementing elements like the characters singing in the film, it looks rather ridiculous. Stephen compared it to old nature documentaries where they would dub the animals voices over, making it look more silly than anything. Not to mention, they discussed how the animals in the remake lack any sort of expression when it comes to their facial animations. David Stephen expanded more on this by stating, that the lack of expression diminishes what made the original so special and mentioned that the makers of the remake are just putting themselves in a corner for aiming to look that hyper-realistic. “You’re really stuck to what the real physics are in real life, or people aren’t going to buy it,” Stephen mentioned about suspension of disbelief in a film like The Lion King.
With critiques from the original animators of The Lion King and more fans being critical of the live-action Disney remakes, it might just be further proof that some films should just stay animated, according to audiences. As real as the lions in the 2019 film look, it won’t automatically mean that a scene like the death of Mufasa will have the same genuine emotion as a creative 2D animated film.