9 THINGS I’D LIKE TO SEE FROM THE LION KING REMAKE

You got to hand it to them, whatever you think of Disney, they are freaking evil geniuses when it comes to marketing. These live action remakes are the perfect way to keep their aging films relevant, and because those films have our childhood nostalgia by the balls, we will keep on going to see them over and over again. After the dizzying success of Beauty and The Beast, the next one on the horizon is The Lion King.

With the director who handled The Jungle Book pretty well on the case, the live action version of The Lion King has a pretty good shot of being actually good. Here are a few things I’d like to see from a remake that would really help it to up its game.

1. PLEASE FIX THE JARRING CHANGE IN MOOD OF THE ORIGINAL

From tragic death to Hasa Diga Eebowai Hakuna Matata in five minutes, this is the most break neck tonal shift since Bambi.

I mean, he’s watched his dad die, he’s been told it’s all his fault, he’s been seperated from everyone he loves but hey! Don’t get too upset kids-  Fart jokes! Goddamnit, If I wasn’t ready to move on, then sure as hell Simba wasn’t.So movie, try and ease us into the lighter scenes a little less haphazardly.

2. USE THE EXTRA RUN TIME TO GIVE SARABI MORE DEVELOPMENT

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If you were even half the President Obama was!

Sarabi is a strong lioness who’s balsy enough to go up to an evil tyrant and tell him to his face what a crap king he is. Imagine what she would be like in congress! But seriously, the problem is that she really gets brushed aside a bit. I mean, she’s barely an afterthought when Nala brings her up, and Simba spends a long time mourning for his dad but doesn’t spend even a second missing his mother. Hell, she was cut out of the sequel while Mufasa had a prominent role… and Mufasa was dead!

Don’t get me wrong, the focus of this film is (and needs to be) Simba and his father, but this lioness lost her husband and her son on the same day- and that’s so much worse than the death of a parent! She is an underated character who needs more love. I think maybe a scene or two between Simba and Sarabi, reconnecting and acknowledging their shared grief- and her pain at thinking her son was dead- is an angle that would really add a lot.

And speaking of leading ladies…

3. FEMALE RAFIKI

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The directors of the stage musical made a good point that there wasn’t really a prominent female character in the film besides Nala. And she was just the love interest. Even in female lead films Disney did love the smurfette principle in their Renaissance era. As much as I adored the original portrayal and thought he had the perfect balance of humour and wisdom, the Rafiki of the stage musical was really, really good. If you can’t get the original actor to come back, then lets get a female Rafiki.

4. MAKE THE CLIMAX AN EVEN MORE EPIC FIGHT SCENE

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It may not be Batman vs Superman, but watching two lions brawl is freaking badass, and so is a lioness army cutting through a gang of angry Hyenas!

The Lion King has one of the most rewarding climaxes. Everything- from Simba appearing in lightning as Scar shrieks ‘I’m ten times the King Mufasa was’, to the fight between him and Scar, to Scar’s confession- it sends shivers down my spine and so should the live action.

This director stepped up with the action in The Jungle Book, and I hope he does here as well!

5. MAKE MUFASA’S DEATH ACTUALLY SIMBA’S FAULT

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The Nostalgia Critic may have been wrong about the merits of the film, but he made an interesting point about the central conflict in his Disneycember review. That it was all about facing up to your mistakes, and yet as soon as Simba went to Pride Rock, it doesn’t matter because it turns out he didn’t make any in the first place. Good thing because his childhood friend and his freaking mother would have watched Scar throw him off the cliff if Scar didn’t confess.

Even as a kid, the conflict made no sense to me; Mufasa’s death clearly wasn’t his fault. I understand why as a kid he felt guilty. But as an adult? The guilt angle didn’t quite clinch. This would have worked a lot better if Mufasa’s death was Simba’s fault.

Imagine if the reason Mufasa died isn’t just that Scar tricked him… but he went somewhere else that Mufasa told him not to go. That Mufasa died to save him because of Simba’s actions… actions that he was too young to understand but whose consequences he has to live with for the rest of his life. That would make a strong conflict absolutely devastating.

6. IF YOU ARE HAVING BEYONCE AS NALA, YOU BETTER BELIEVE SHE’S SINGING SHADOWLAND

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Casting Queen B is another marketing move so clever, you almost have to stand up and applaud; Emma Watson may not have been the best actress, but having Hermione play the brunette bookworm princess was such a smart move. Meanwhile, Beyonce is royalty in the eyes of many African Americans (especially Black women), so making her the film’s future Queen is perfect- especially since this in effect makes Beyonce a Disney royal. Think of all the memes we’ll have when her twins are born. Sure, we don’t really know how well she can act, but Nala was more of a plot device and ploy to market toy lion cubs to girls than a complex character anyway, so she won’t make or break this movie.

I’m still not sure whether music would work with talking lions, but if they do, they need to put their Beyonce to good use! Shadowland was a beautiful and haunting addition to the stage musical, and I would love to see this sung by a woman who doesn’t need to rely on autotune.

7. GIVE IT MORE OF AN AFRICAN FEEL LIKE IN THE STAGE MUSICAL

Granted, it was more generic Africa than any specific culture, but still! It added quite a lot to the musical. I’m glad that they got James Earl Jones and his big manly booming voice for Mufasa, and a few other talented Black or African actors in the voice cast (as well as Queen B) wouldn’t go amiss.

The stronger feel for the time period worked well for Beauty and The Beast, so a stronger connection with the African landscape will serve this well too.

8. MAKE SCAR TERRIFYING

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Scar is one of Disney’s most memorable villains, thanks to Jeremy Iron’s performance, the fact that he killed a major character and, aside from Frollo, he has the coolest villain song.

Scar did follow some unfortunate Disney villain tropes in being slightly, well…

British.

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Okay, I know you thought I was going to say fey, but seriously. Look at the sarcasm that drips from those gestures. You can practically see that he wants to flip his paw around and give Musasa the finger, but he won’t because he has too much class. This worked well in the original, but I’m not convinced it will translate well to live action and I think Disney could lay off the fops for a bit. I want this to be a really, powerful warlike Scar, one that carries underlying menace, even if he is not stupid enough to say anything treasonous outright.

Maybe he could have got that Scar from fighting Mufasa flat out, Mufasa could have scarred him in the battle and Mufasa could have made him keep that name as a reminder of his shame. In short, I want to see both the soft, silver tongued manipulator and the big, murderous tyrant who inspires fear in his followers and shows us why Sarabi and Nala were too frightened to gang up on him and take him.

9. THIS BETTER MAKE ALL THE MEN IN THE AUDIENCE BAWL LIKE BABIES

‘Those are manly tears! I swear!’ This film is brilliant because its heart breaking and really gets through the sense of loss at losing a parent. If this film fails to do that, then nothing else the film could possibly do matters.

TOP 11 HARRY POTTER CHARACTERS

Every generation has a fantasy series that really resonates with them. In mum’s case, it was the Chronicles of Narnia. In my case, it’s Harry Potter, which genuinely made me feel nervous each year I got older because it meant that I would be even further behind when my Hogwarts letter finally came (I’m in my 20s and  it’s still coming damnit!)

Harry Potter may not be the best fantasy series ever written; His Dark Materials and the Discworld series have far superior world building. But still, It has a good sense of humour, a quirky imagination, a well-structured and gripping mystery and of course, a warm and likeable cast.

We all know Dumbledore’s awesome, Hermione’s genius is incredible and Snape (especially when played by Alan Rickman) is badass, tragic and looks cool in a cape. But they’re not the only great characters. In fact, it’s not just the leads, but the dozens of fun supporting characters that make Harry Potter what it is.

In this list, I’m going to leave out the leads (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Hagrid and Snape) and look at my top 11 supporting characters.

11) Angelina Johnson

Angelina Johnson

Angelina Johnson may only be a back ground character, but her presence was a breathe of fresh air in this series. I’m not going to rant about the problems I have with the way women were written in this series, but I will say that until Luna came along and Ginny became a tough character, most of the female students were portrayed as silly, less able to keep their head in a tough situation and/ or over emotional.

Johnson however felt like a well needed exception. Sporty, fun, brave and a great Quidditch player, she was one of the ‘cool kids’ and put herself forward to be the Quidditch captain and a contender for the Tri Wizard tournament. She was bold and active, the kind of girl I wanted to imagine myself as being when I was reading the books.

10) Professor Lupin

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The calming element of James’ friendship circle and a man whose lessons were always brilliant, Remus Lupin is the teacher we all wish we had. Plus, even though his curse literally turns him into a savage, he’s kind, mild mannered and one of the least aggressive and domineering werewolves in fantasy fiction.

9) Horace Slughorn

Horace Slughorn

Horace Slughorn was a much needed addition to the world of Harry Potter. The concept of Slytherin was that it was meant to be the ‘ambition house’ (or the ‘pure blood’ house), but it never seemed to be the case; the majority of the house didn’t really show that much drive, and they  were so cartoonishly nasty that it seemed like the only requirement was being a massive dick.

Slughorn helped to fix some of that. He wasn’t evil and unpleasant, he was ambitious and affable. He also went to great lengths to escape Voldemort, showing that you can be ambitious and opportunistic without being genocidal, something that helped give the morality of the Harry Potter world a more adult and well rounded feel.

8) Dobby!

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I had a room-mate once who said I reminded her of Dobby; I’m still not  sure how to feel about that

What can I say? everything about Dobby was adorable. Starting out as an abused servant who made a mess of things even as he tried to help, we saw him escape his vicious owners and strike out for himself and become his own , um, elf. Weird, sweet, unrelentingly loyal and not afraid to live his life how he wants to, Dobby is a truly memorable character.

7) Mad- Eyed Moody

The man looks like he just rolled off the set of Fury Road. Badass to the bone
The man looks like he just rolled off the set of Fury Road. Badass to the bone

A tough- no nonsense veteran badass who doesn’t mince words and knows how to take command, Mad Eye Moody is truly one of the cooler characters in the Potterverse.

6) Arthur Weasley

Arthur Weasley was just such a likeable character. A down trodden dad and one of life’s underdogs, Arthur was also a very loving father. Unlike his wife, who felt more like a caricature of well meaning but over protective motherhood than a real woman, Arthur was a well-rounded guy; his obsession with the Muggle world was adorable, and in spite of his goofy nature he could be capable, thoughtful and switched on when the situation needed it.

D'aww, only Arthur could ask such a question
D’aww, only Arthur could ask such a question

5) Sirius Black

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Of course Sirius was going to be on here. As Harry’s godfather, he was another parental figure that Harry needed in his life. The injustice that he had to deal with made him sympathetic, and how bravely he bore those events for the sake of Harry was deeply moving.

He was also a fun trickster who was clearly flawed (as shown by his attitude to Kreacher and Snape), which only made him all the more real. Tragic and mischievous, Sirius was the first Harry Potter character to truly break our hearts.

4) Neville Longbottom

Puberty is a wonderful thing
Puberty is a wonderful thing

Increasing the prominence of Neville Longbottom was a smart move on Rowling’s part. While Harry Potter was clearly meant to be a relatable every man hero, after he suddenly became the chosen one, the youngest Quiddich player in over a century, the school hero, he could clearly no longer fulfil that role.

Neville Longbottom resonates more with the experience us geekier ones had in adolescence than Harry or Hermione; he was awkward, chubby, and inept at everything and felt like he was a disappointment to his parents. But he was never just a loser; right from the beginning he was chosen to be in Gryffindor, and always showed potential in small understated ways, whether through his prowess in Herbology or his willingness to stand up for what he thought was right.

In the final book, it was heartwarming to see how strong Neville becomes to the point where even Voldemort can’t help but acknowledge how impressive he is. Plus, Matthew Lewis taught us that there’s hope for the ugly duckling. What more can you want from a character?

3)Luna Lovegood

EVANNA LYNCH as Luna Lovegood in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy
Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood

Luna Lovegood is an 11th hour character whose charm needs no explanation. She was funny, weird, unique, and sweet and the advice she offered Harry in his darkest hour was one of the more touching scenes in the series. Luna is definitely my favorite female character in the series.

2) Dolores Umbridge

Clearly this is the office of the devil
Clearly this is the office of the devil

Dolores is such a great villain that even Stephen King, creator of a legion of monsters who have haunted the dreams of millions, had to acknowledge how brilliantly evil she is.

Voldemort was an impersonal big bad, but Dolores was our own personal Hitler. Petty, beaurocratic and manipulative, she was able to control every aspect of Harry’s life and make it hell. We’ve all had someone like that in our lives at one point, so add in an annoying personal tick (ahem) and we have a recipe for one of the foulest most horrifying monstrosities In the history of literature.

Her habits were so enraging, and her rule of Hogwarts was so tyrannical, that seeing her lose control in the most cathartic, glorious, epic way possible was one of the most emotionally satisfying moments I have ever experienced when reading. And because of that, Dolores Umbridge has to be one of JK Rowling’s most brilliant creations.

1) Fred and George

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These two stole the series for me. I read with bated breath and a massive grin on my face, waiting to see what creative trouble they would cause. They were the characters with the most charisma in the series and stole every scene they were in. To top it off, in The Order Of The Phoenix they orchestrated one of the best, most cathartic and anarchic exits I have ever come across in fiction. This is why Fred and George will remain my two of my favourite characters of the series.