A Summer of Disney Sparks Heated Debates

Arts & Entertainment Editor Alisha Lee

Disney made waves this summer with several live-action remakes of classic animated movies as well as an announcement for yet another remake that has sparked some debate.  

The original “The Lion King” released in 1994, while an incredible motion picture filled with ranging emotions and lively, heart-warming music, experienced slack for seeming like it was all about legendary English musician Elton John. The live action version was released this summer on July 17 and suffered a similar critique.

With an all new cast featuring stars such as Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, and Beyoncé, some fans feared possible voice and plot changes but were happy with James Earl Jones returning to voice Mufasa again. Jones was and always will be the one and only Mufasa, but even with his nostalgic voice, that familiar sentimental feeling from the original animated film was not there.

Many were concerned with Beyoncé being cast as Nala. They felt that while the concentration should be on the film as a whole, people were focusing a lot of their attention on the star herself, believing that she was using the film as a chance to release new music.

Considering there was so much at stake, movie goers are emotionally split. Half say that the new film missed the mark. The other half say it was a hit or can say that it was at least enjoyable. The live-action movie may not have been the exact same as the animation, but it still had that familiar heart-warming story and much of the same powerful soundtrack.

Some fans feel that the live action version did not have the same intense emotions as the original, but that should have been expected right? It is very difficult for any remake to outdo its original, especially one as popular and timeless as “The Lion King.”

I stand on the side of those who enjoyed the movie despite the changes. It was incredibly realistic and different, but good different. A few moments here and there were slightly disappointing, but as a whole, the movie was still powerful and at least likeable.

Some characters stood out to me more than others. For instance, Scar was both impressive and convincing. Without spoiling anything, I can say that no, Scar is not the exact same in this movie as in the animated film, but his evil intentions are most definitely the same.

One area where he did not impress, however, was during his time to sing. Scar’s classic “Be Prepared” was very shortened which takes away from his classic villain impression early in the movie. This Scar seemed very convincing as a villain, just not as likeable as his animated counterpart.

Viewers still saw that same lighthearted humor from iconic duo Timon and Pumbaa. Timon was hilarious and still one of my favorite characters with his side comments and random jokes and outbursts. I initially thought I would love Seth Rogen as Pumbaa partly because of his unforgettable laugh and sense of humor. He performed well, but as with Scar, the feeling was not the same.

I believe that some of the general disappointment came from fans going into the movie expecting it to be a near replica of if not a better version than the original 1994 film. People expected it to be better because of the high anticipation and the reputation of the animated version. With a film that had such a long-lasting effect on millions of people all over the world, I knew there was no way a remake could stand half a chance at being better or even somewhat as moving as its original.

With all that said, the movie is still very enjoyable as long as the mindset is already set to see it as its own movie and not as a replica in live-action form.

Halle Bailey as the New Ariel 

The live-action “The Little Mermaid” will feature a talented young singer, actress, and protégé of Beyoncé, Halle Bailey. She is only 19 years old but will take on this role with her show-stopping voice that should be perfect for the role of a Disney princess.

Bailey has received criticism, for some for taking this role as a black woman when the cartoon character portrayed in the Disney film is white. Many fans and other celebrities, however, have defended her casting, agreeing that she is a wonderful fit for the role regardless of her skin color.

This issue sparked several debates across social media as there was even a rise in hate groups against the movie for not picking an actress that looked more like the animated character. It should not be in issue, and it does not warrant personal hate messages directed at the young actress.

Actor and musician Donald Glover, famously known as Childish Gambino, was quick to defend Bailey.

“I just hope that she’s like having fun, and don’t let anybody make you feel the opposite of how you want to feel,” Glover said. “It’s a very special role, and you earned it,” Glover told E! Entertainment at “The Lion King” premiere.

Bailey posted to her shared Instagram account with her older sister Chloe a photograph of the animated Ariel but with more ethnic features like darker skin and hair and the caption “Dream come true” underneath.

Bailey was also at the premiere for the live-action “The Lion King” and shared her thoughts during an interview with Variety. 

“I feel like I’m dreaming, and I’m just grateful, and I don’t pay attention to the negativity,” Bailey said at the premiere. “I just feel like this role was something bigger than me. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”