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I Wanted to Cry: A Disappointing Remake of a Childhood Classic

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

The Lion King, 2019. Image from

When I was a kid, I had a small in height, but thick box-shaped TV that only played VHS tapes. For an elementary schooler, I had a pretty extensive collection of VHS tapes too that I acquired from God knows where. Though I know I owned the classics like Dumbo and A Bug’s Life, The Lion King is the only movie I remember watching when I snuck my heavy, “portable” TV not too much bigger than my head, but innovative for the early 2000’s, into my room when I was supposed to be asleep.

I’m 20 years old now, and I’m just now starting to experience the weird feeling that comes with the releasing of classic remakes. I really am that old to watch these beloved childhood movies of mine that I associate such sweet, simplistic memories with, get revamped for the big screens all over again. If I didn’t have this attachment to this youthful film, I probably wouldn’t have bothered going to the theater to watch. But since it held a place in my heart, like several of the other recent reboots, I set out to go watch The Lion King during New York’s devastating heat wave.

After stepping out of the theater, I was just glad I had air conditioning for two hours than anything. I don’t think of myself as a complainer, as in, I genuinely really do not complain about much, but my friend and I just kept reiterating how we just saw the exact same movie as the one we watched so many times when were children, and in a disappointed way. If my apartment wasn’t scorching because of the near 100 degree weather, I would have been upset that I spent money on it. I wished for something more.

The 2019 version of The Lion King is almost exactly the same as the first. The only component that differs is that this was live action, as opposed to the previous. Maybe one would aruge there’s some beauty in preserving it so accurately. But, this year’s cast list was filled with A-List celebrities and their killer looks at the premiere was more exciting than their characters.

The special effects were astonishing, I do admit. I never found that it looked cheesy, and completely forgot that these weren’t real lions on the screen before me. My movie-going friend I contemplated how they even shot the film.

“Was the whole thing fake?” she asked.

“They had to have filmed some landscape shots and then computerized the animals in.” I argued. No matter how they did it, this was perhaps the best part of the movie. Oh, and Beyoncé.

But there was something missing from it. It felt like there was no heart. I didn’t cry over the inevitable death like I did as a child and I didn’t even “aw” at the baby animals like I do in YouTube videos. I hate that I’ve become that realistic, and possibly slightly pessimistic adult, but unfortunately I felt like the whole remake, and all the many recent others, were done just for financial profit.

I don’t regret my friend and I trekking 40 minutes on the subway to see the film, I just wish it had been something more than just a simple telling of the exact same tale. But oh well, at least it had some comedic lines and nostalgia. Oh, and Beyoncé.


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