The Lion King ★★★½

I'm going to go against the popular opinion here and say that I enjoyed it - quite a lot actually. I completely understand the concern with Disney being basically a money printing machine at this point, and the fact that there's no reason at all that this really needed to be made other than to make loads of cash. The frustration is furthered by the fact that most of the movie was basically a shot-by-shot remake of the original, and I completely understand and even share some of that frustration.

I can't put my finger on why, but watching this, I just couldn't be mad. The animation is absolutely gorgeous. I saw this in IMAX Laser and the aspect ratio filled the whole screen, and it was stunning - there's so many moments where it's just so easy to forget that it's animation at all. I will say, even though the animation is basically perfect, I don't think it works 100% of the time. I don't particularly agree with the criticisms that it's lifeless and that there's nothing behind the eyes at all, but I do know that some scenes I had a massive disconnect between what my ears were hearing and what my eyes were seeing. It does work MOST of the time for me, but I wish they could have found some kind of happy medium between standard modern animation and photorealism - something that could have allowed them to emote a bit more. I definitely understand that they were trying to work within the confines of how a lion would actually look or act, but it didn't work all the time.

Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen completely stole the show, they had such wonderful chemistry together. Their casting was so spot on, both of them did great job. I love the fact that they just left in Rogen's signature laughs so often - I was cracking up. It couldn't be a more perfect fit for Pumbaa. Also, Billy Eichner apparently has a beautiful voice - I didn't even know.

Casting-wise, I think they made a lot of great decisions. John Oliver's Zazu was great as well. I enjoyed Donald Glover (I'm a little bias, I've been a huge fan for years), but I'm incredibly frustrated with the fact that even in the songs he was completely overshadowed by Beyonce needlessly rifting during some songs. What was up with some of the mixing? He seemed much quieter than her in their songs together. She was the worst part of the movie, and single-handedly brought it down a couple notches. She just... was not good. Her voice acting was lame, and she oversang the shit out of the songs. This isn't the Beyonce show, I don't want to hear her endlessly rifting during "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", and what in Christ's name was her original song? That was so bad. With an absolutely wonderful soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, that just felt so corny and out of place. Were they contractually obligated to shoehorn in at least one Beyonce solo? C'mon, that was so bad.

Anyway, this turned out a lot longer than I'd expected. It's not perfect, but I enjoyed it a lot. I know a lot of people will disagree and that's okay.