Luke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Shout out to the world's most expensive use of the copy-paste short cut.
My relationship with the original has changed over the years and I think it might be one of Disney's best 2D animated features. So I rewatched it before I saw the remake, just to catch myself up with the story and characters. And, to make things short, its the exact same movie. Beat for beat and almost line for line the exact same. The only difference being it's presented through the most lifeless and confusing direction possible. I'd say it kind of defeats the purpose of the extra photo-realistic designs when I'm incredibly disturbed by the awkward mouth movements or the fact that they look like real animals but have a weird sense of movement and weight to them that just has my mind going overtime not to have an uncanny valley moment.
The original was noteworthy for being Disney's most aesthetically pleasing animated film, which just adds insult to injury for this dusty, washed-out mess. And with that loses a lot of the expressiveness of the original film. Some of that comes from the blank faces of the characters, but I don't think people really mention just how flat these vocal performances are. Mufasa is one that sticks out like a sore thumb, especially in one of the more pivotal moments in the story. The best thing that I can say about this film is that Donald Glover does a great job with all the musical parts of the film, but that's about it.
Every directional choice feels like a downgrade or just following in the exact footsteps of the original, so much so its kind of embarrassing. Some Disney remakes at least tried to add a bit more to the story or even re-contextualized it to some extent. This film didn't even bother that. It just banked on the collective praise of the original to elevate it. If nothing else, this film supports my feeling that presentation can be just as important as your story. Because it is the same story, but with none of the emotion or artistry to actually tell it.