Everything the light touches looks very familiar.
In the first teaser for The Lion King live-action (so-called) remake, we see director Jon Favreau‘s digitally rendered version of the “Circle of Life” opener, done in the photo-real style he mastered to acclaim in Disney’s live-action The Jungle Book.
But unlike that movie, or Disney’s Cinderella remake — both of which had their own visual and narrative identities apart from their animated originals — this new Lion King looks to be taking the virtual shot-for-shot remake approach. That formula reaped huge box office dividends for 2017’s Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, but it also felt like an overly-slavish nostalgia cash grab than an inspired reimagining.
This first Lion King teaser leaves me feeling the same way. Sure, the song and James Earl Jones‘ Mufasa voice still pack their power, but I still can’t get past the fact that we’ve essentially seen this before…except that now, it just looks more real-ish.
I still hold out some hope that the final movie — starring the voices and motion-captured performances of Donald Glover as Simba, Beyonce as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Alfre Woodard as Simba’s mother Sarabi, John Oliver as Zazu, John Kani as Rafiki, Florence Kasumba as Shenzi, Eric André as Azizi, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa — will offer up more surprises than this would suggest, but a by-the-numbers teaser just diminished those hopes considerably.
We’ll get more hints in another trailer or two over the next few months before The Lion King opens on July 19, 2019, during the 25th Anniversary year of the 1994 original.