Want to know what is wrong with the new version of The Lion King? Look no further than Beyoncé
JOE's review of the live-action remake of the animated classic is here.
25 years ago, Disney released The Lion King, an animated musical take on Hamlet - dead dad, devious uncle, son returning to reclaim the throne - and rightfully earned its position as one of the biggest, brightest jewels in the The Mouse House's crown.
After the huge commercial and critical success of The Jungle Book, it made a certain kind of sense that director Jon Favreau would tackle The Lion King next on the assembly line of Disney's live-action remakes of its own back catalogue.
Pair that with an absolutely incredible voice-cast, and it really does seem like a sure-fire hit... and then the movie begins.
The opening shot is pretty much a perfect recreation of the animated movie's opening shot, the vast vistas and full library of African plains animals, building up to the presentation of Simba at Pride Rock.
It is a lush, visually stunning sequence, bound by that incredible banger 'Circle Of Life', and initially seems like a great way to pay homage to that 1994 original.
However, the rest of the movie plays out like Gus Van Sant's slavish, shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, but mixed with visual effects so impressive that they're basically photo-realistic, which presents a real problem for your brain when these animals start talking.
The packed-deck of a cast inject as much personality and depth as they possibly can into the dialogue, which is 99% identical to the original script, but in attempting to maintain a brain-breaking level of authenticity, these talking animals are incapable of any real emotion on their faces.
Similar problems arise during the still-great musical numbers. 'I Just Can't Wait To Be King' and 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight?' are sung well, but the performers on-screen animal avatars are mostly just moving their mouths in time while running through some trees. The sense of fun is almost entirely absent, like someone played the wrong soundtrack over a David Attenborough documentary.
There are other problems too - Favreau's changed the ending for his version of The Jungle Book, which actually skews too closely to the ending here, while the originally camp and arch Scar is now just a physically weaker version of Shere Khan. Younger Simba, meanwhile, comes off too obnoxiously privileged to be likeable - but there are some unexpected highlights, too.
Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner steal the show as the new Timon and Pumbaa, and seem to be capable of singing through their emotionless expressions on obvious highlight 'Hakuna Matata', while John Oliver is beyond perfectly cast as the stuffy but strong-willed Zazu.
But if you're looking for a shorthand for all of the problems with this live-action remake, look no further than Beyoncé.
The casting of Queen Bee in the movie was obviously a huge deal in the lead-up to the movie's release, but again, upon watching the movie, obvious issues arise. For one, the grown-up version of Nala doesn't appear until well into the second half of the movie, and when she does, she doesn't really have that much to do.
Beyoncé is obviously a hugely talented performer, as she knocks her renditions of the classic songs out of the park, and even her own new track 'Spirit' fits in well enough, but overall, what was the point of hiring someone like Beyoncé, only to barely use her?
Well, the answer is obvious, and it involves a lot of dollar signs.
Much like the movie as a whole, it seemed like a great idea, until you actually see it playing out in front of you, and you're left wondering why anyone bothered.
The Lion King is released in Irish cinemas from Friday 19 July.
Clip via Walt Disney Studios