With Disney’s current rapid expansion and constant devouring of every media source it can get its hand on, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few more years, everyone’s daily routines began with praising the mouse. Even a few years ago, it wasn’t as if Dinsey needed any more revenue sources, but with constant advancements in filmmaking technology came another source for them to print money—live action remakes. Boy, was this a solid score; they don’t even have to make new stories, just dust off a few old scripts and boom! They have a film. This week saw the trailer release of probably the most anticipated of these remakes, The Lion King.
So, what do we get in this first teaser trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King? Exactly what you would expect: a look at the famous opening sequence of the film. This is a teaser, so I can excuse the fact that this is all we see, and I will commend the marketing team on choosing the most recognisable and iconic moment in the film to kick off this hype train. What better way to remind people how much they love The Lion King than with that scene. Being that this is a ‘live action remake’, the trailer’s true purpose is to show off the film’s visuals, as we all know the plot by now. This is where my first problem with this film begins, because even though this is a ‘live action remake,’ in all honesty, it barely qualifies for this. The movie is pure CGI. They’re not real animals, as using live lions in the film would be ethically dubious, so what we are being given is just basically the next step up in animation. After watching it for the second time, I had bit of a hunch that something else was going on with this teaser and after a quick YouTube search my suspicions were confirmed. This teaser is an exact recreation of the first 30 seconds of the animated film’s trailer. Check it out below.
At first, after I discovered this, I thought that what they had done was a pretty tremendous achievement, a shot-for-shot recreation to show how far Disney has come since the original and also to give a little nod to the hardcore fans out there that would notice. But, the more I thought about it, the more it just feels kind of lazy, like the marketing guy had a light bulb moment and yelled into the bullpen, “Hey! We have a perfectly good trailer here that worked in 1994, let’s just redo that!” Here stems my second problem with this film… it feels like a lazy cash grab. Don’t get me wrong, all the live action remakes can be called lazy cash grabs, but this is a live action remake… with no live action. Before viewing the trailer, I was quite certain that nothing new would come from this, and that’s what has been affirmed for me.
In the end, I will give it this: the visuals do look quite nice—much better than the Jungle Book. Mostly, this trailer has left me feeling underwhelmed. I really don’t expect much from this flick except a straight rehash of the original film. Out of all the remakes Disney has churned out so far, this one feels to me like the biggest cash grab of them all. If this left you feeling hyped, all power to you; it’s a good trailer made to make you remember why you loved The Lion King. But for me, it just feels like lazy nostalgia-bait for us millennials.