Critics Slam ‘The Lion King’ Remake, Calling It ‘Unnecessary’ and ‘Terrible’

It appears we’ve reached the limit for live-action remakes. The Lion King movie, which premieres on July 18, 2019, is already generating tons of buzz thanks to critic reviews. And the news so far isn’t good.

This film is one of many to receive the live action treatment, with new versions of old Disney favorites including Beauty & the Beast, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, Mulan, Aladdin, and the upcoming version of The Little Mermaid. Reactions to most remakes haven’t been particularly good or bad, but this one is sounding absolutely terrible.

Why do critics hate the new Lion King so much? There are a few key reasons.

‘The Lion King’ is yet another scene-for-scene remake

Much of the criticism for earlier Disney remakes is that they’re unoriginal. Rather than reimagining the familiar fairy tales they’re based on, the new Lion King is being panned for being a shot-for-shot ripoff of the original that some critics are calling a shameless money grab.

A senior editor at Vox’s Polygon said, “Unlike with this year’s Dumbo, which pushed past the plot markers of the 1941 movie, or Aladdin, which saw an opportunity for the underserved Jasmine, the team behind The Lion King saw no room for improvement other than a hyperrealistic overhaul.”

Lion King
Lion King | Disney Junior via Getty Images

David Ehrlich from IndieWire had even harsher criticism, saying the movie is a: “soulless chimera of a film [that] 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.” 

They’re also saying cartoon animals were a better choice for the story

Technology has come a long way since the 1994 animated film. Now instead of illustrations, animators use CGI to create realistic looking animals instead. This works wonders in some mediums — the dragons in Game of Thrones come to mind. But for The Lion King, realistic animals aren’t as great as they sound.

The Lion King 2019
The Lion King 2019 | Disney

The one thing they’re missing is expressive faces, because there’s only so far you can take a realistic looking lion before it looks ridiculous. This takes away some gravitas from epic scenes like the one where Simba tries to rouse his recently murdered father Mufasa. The whole thing looks more like a nature documentary than anything.

As Alissa Wilkinson from Vox explains, “The photorealism is striking and impressive, but something feels weird about the voices. It’s not like people can’t imagine talking lions, of course. But 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.”

Not everyone hated the movie

Simba in The Lion King 2019
Simba in The Lion King 2019 | Disney

Though most reviews have been pretty terrible, there are some critics who have the opposite opinion, calling the film a beautiful and artistic expression of a beloved story.

Entertainment Weekly called it “gorgeous” but “unnecessary,” which seems to be a common consensus. No matter what, the movie will make plenty of money just because of the nostalgic factor. So many people who loved the original will go see it no matter what the critics say.