A couple months ago, Disney announced that it would be releasing yet another Lion King movie. This one would be called The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar and would feature Kion, Simba and Nala’s second-born child, and Bunga, his irritating honey badger BFF. While the plot is still a bit nebulous, it seems like it’s going to center around Kion creating a “Lion Guard” that will buck tradition by having non-lions in it. As this clip shows, there’s also going to be something about a magical symbol and roaring clouds and true kings. It’s… pretty hard to figure out right now.
I do not understand why this is happening. Okay, I understand why Disney would push out another Lion King movie – the original is still incredibly popular and revamping old franchises is pretty hot right now. But why is it about Kion? Shouldn’t it be about Kiara again, Simba and Nala’s first-born child and the rightful ruler of Pride Rock? Surely, it’s difficult being a female ruler in a patriarchal society (though lion prides are matriarchal…), and there’s still room for dissent with Scar’s son being the supposed new consort and all (No clue what I’m talking about? Click here for a brief recap of The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride.). Or, if we’re done with Kiara, shouldn’t it be about her child – or do we just not care about Kiara?
Then there’s the movie itself. Disney’s chosen to do a 2D/3D overlap similar to the Paperman short, but it’s not as well done. It nicely reinforces the original animation style but is a bit fuzzy and difficult to watch sometimes. The style has also changed, reflecting modern kids’ shows by furthering exaggerating features, creating a more youthful look that probably won’t appeal to adults. Then, if the clip is to be believed, much of the plot is just going to be a rehash of the original Lion King. Then there’s Bunga, the mouthy, in-your-face honey badger sidekick. Why do you have to go and ruin my second-favorite African animal, Disney? You already ruined hyenas.
However, I do see how this new film will appeal to kids, and if it’s as fun and light and just plain weird as the clip promises, it will doubtless air on Disney for a long time. My worry is that it’s going to alienate diehard Disney and Lion King fans, those of us who have spent the past 20 years with it. I’m also worried that Disney isn’t spending as much time and effort as it should on new features and series and is instead content to coast on Marvel and Frozen fame. At any rate, I’m not excited about this new film/series and don’t anticipate watching it – even with the inestimable Gabrielle Union as Nala. Pass.