The Lion King’s CGI has divided critics.
The Lion King’s CGI has divided critics. Disney

‘Let this be real’: Lion King gets ‘remade’

Two artists have reimagined scenes from The Lion King - and it's proving so popular fans are begging for them to redo the entire film.

Despite cleaning up at the box office (Forbes is reporting its international tally is now at more than $1.85 billion), director Jon Favreau's hyper-realistic reboot of the 1994 Disney classic has divided critics and viewers.

It is currently sitting on a 53 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with most negative reviews accusing the CGI of rendering characters' faces emotionless.

While the CGI was impressive it meant many of the characters lacked the facial expressions of the 1994 original.
While the CGI was impressive it meant many of the characters lacked the facial expressions of the 1994 original.'s Wenlei Ma said while the computer animation was impressive but "its fidelity to photorealism means its characters' faces are not particularly animated".

In response to this, artist Nikolay Mochkin recreated each of The Lion King's main characters more in line with the facial expressions that featured in the 1994 original.

With the help of Instagram user @jonty_pressinger an AI-style transfer was done over the trailer and the results are pretty spectacular, see for yourself below:


Mochkin's work was soon trending on Reddit, with his Instagram followers begging him and @jonty_pressinger to remake the whole movie.

"Good, now fix the whole movie and release it."

"With the original voice actors, especially Scar's, it would be perfect."

"Can you make the whole movie?

"Movie would be much better if they animated it like this."



However some disagreed, arguing it was more an update on the 1994 movie while the 2019 version was supposed to be live action and therefore more realistic - as much as talking lions are realistic.

"I love your take on the remake … paying homage to the original style of the original 2D Lion King. But the 2019 remake is a live action," one person wrote. "Which means they are going to portray it visually realistic. So I still love the 2019 remake over this."

Meanwhile one of the animaters of the 1994 original has been critical of the decision to recreate The Lion King so closely.

"There is a huge resentment against these 3D remakes from the original 2D crews. Maybe if we got any kind of royalties it would be different," one animator, who wished to remain anonymous, told the HuffPost.

Scene from 1994 animated film 'The Lion King'.
Scene from 1994 animated film 'The Lion King'.

Other animators also spoke to the website about the remake and while they praised the scale of Favreau's version they also raised questions about the photo realism.

Animator David Stephan, who worked on the original Circle of Life opening sequence and the hyenas, took issue with the hyper-realistic CGI.

"It would jar me out of the film, literally. Especially with little Simba walking around. It was too real," he said to HuffPost.

"And then when he would talk, it reminded me of those old nature films where they would dub the voices over and the lips would move. I thought, 'Oh, this is really cheap.' … I just came away going, 'Wow, that was a great story that I worked on back in '93'."