The new Lion King trailer came out a couple of weeks ago and millions of people have been watching and getting excited. However, provided those people are excited about more than just James Earl Jones’ voice, they are wrong. The new Lion King does not deserve excitement, if anything it deserves an exasperated sigh and an article that goes into a bit of depth about why it is so exasperating. Lucky for you, this is said article.
Just think for a second about the next few Disney movies: Mary Poppins, Dumbo, The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan, the list goes on. These are not original ideas. These are ideas that people in Disney had years ago, and made, and now they are simply remaking them. Sure technology has advanced hugely, but the question must be asked as to why they choose to apply the technology to stories they have already told rather than utilize it with new stories.
Technology must aid creativity, not the other way around. We do not go to the cinema to marvel at the CGI that brought the film to life. We go to the cinema to be entertained, to be transported to another world, and it is the job of technology to bring us there in a seamless, realistic way. The best use of technology lies in that which we do not see. Ultimately the story should always come first.
So, Disney has all this new technology, probably the best outside if WETA. I would imagine, all the creatives should be informed of such technology and how it can help their stories. They can then develop and enhance their ideas with what is available. Instead, it appears, they take this new technology and see what old stories they can slap it on to make more money out of. Sure the animals in the new Lion King look realistic, but when you watched the original, did you ever really question if Simba was a lion? New technology ought to be applied to enhance, it itself is not the entertainment.
Take for example David Attenborough’s Blue Planet. The first one of these was made with the best of technology at the time, and they told us the stories of our seas. Then, about 10 years later they made Blue Planet 2. This series featured the very best of the technology of today giving us crisper images, brighter colours and the ability to see things we never could before. But they didn’t just tell us the same stories they did the first time. They told us new stories in a new way.
It saddens me to think of Walt Disney and what he would think of all this. How he would feel about his company that he imagined and built out of thin air and changed the face of cinema with. A company that is now taking the lazy, cash-hungry option and has almost completely given up on enhancing or improving storytelling. Sure, every now and then a Frozen or Big Hero 6 comes along and they are really excellent films, but these should be all they produce. Disney is not about mediocre money making, it’s about creativity and wild imagination.
Disney has a history, one that no other animation company can boast. They have the facilities to train and employ the most creative people in the world and yet they are producing films that not only have been done before but that THEY have done before. To me, that’s just not what Disney stands for, and it never will be. The Lion King is a perfect summation of what they have become and the public reaction is a testament to how they got there.