Snarkticle time. You’ve been warned.
My god, do I hate Disney and their ‘live action’ movie efforts. Only this time, it’s not actors in front of a green screen. No, this movie, The Lion King, is 100% reanimated in CGI with all personality, dynamic shots and colors, and character emoting removed. I’ve seen some people having the stupid audacity of calling The Lion King live action and I’m seriously baffled.
“Disney didn’t hire lions to act in this film, geniuses!”
Let’s take a look at the toys and let them speak for themselves.
What I find the most interesting, hilarious, and ironic is that Disney had the foresight to release new playsets from The Lion King using the…what else…original 2D animated film designs. And no surprise, these play sets and plush toys are really nice looking. We see Scar, Mufasa, Simba, Nala, Timon, and Pumba in their familiar, stylized glory. Thus, reflecting the aesthetic from the 1995 Disney animated smash hit that is without a doubt one of the best movies of all time.
Even if it is based off of Kimba or Hamlet or a fever dream of murdering your brother in an antelope stampede. It really doesn’t matter. I cried, you cried, we cried, and young Jonathan Taylor Thomas managed to encapsulate the 90s in a single vocal performance where he very obviously does not sing “I Just Can’t Wait to be King”.
One thing I’m really confused that I’m not seeing more people discuss is the fact that The Lion King is coming out only two months after Disney’s last live-action green screen mess Aladdin, which had mixed reviews and a slew of unattractive toys. You can come at me and say “This isn’t for you, it’s for the new generation”, but that argument won’t stand. This is a cash grab– Disney is very clearly making these movies for zero money (the own the IPs, right?) and they are making bank. By pumping out several of these clusters per year, it looks excellent on their books and they get major tax breaks and get to rake in the coinage. There’s no losing. Except for one thing.
By making these movies, Disney is suggesting that 2D is not the magic– the true integrity lies in green screens and CGI remakes that are dull, flat, and emotionless. And so many artists worked so hard on this film! It’s all in direction and executive decisions, not in the talent of the artists and toy designers.
Now, don’t get me wrong– let’s stop playing the pessimistic part for just a second and look at this more lightheartedly. Disney is not replacing their movies or alluding that the original stories are flawed in any way, but they are showing us a new angle of a story. Retelling the same tell in a few different voices. But even if that was true, there is no new twist or spin happening in The Lion King in the way Aladdin modernized its ending and didn’t make greater efforts to bring back Robin Williams.
I know he’s gone, I just love him that much.
So, what are we trying to say here with these new Lion King toys? They’re flat, boring, lifeless, and do nothing for me. If you know a kid or person who just really wants a cut and dry lion or warthog toy, by all means, tap that well. Otherwise, two inches away, there are new toys and playsets reflecting some of the most connectable characters in animated movie history.
I give the new Lion King toys from Disney an “Ew”, but follow with a “Yum” for being marketed alongside the 2D toys.