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Vanity Fair: “The New Lion King Just Isn’t Animated Enough” — “In The Lion King—Disney’s 1994 animated original—a pride of lions, led by the king Mufasa, perform a series of extraordinary behaviors. They squint. They wince. Their eyebrows arch to and fro with emotion: panic, anger, a slick sense of satisfaction, a devious sense of scheming. Welcome to anthropomorphism 101. Animals: they’re just like us, when we draw them.

“In the new Lion King, helmed by Jon Favreau and out in theaters July 19, much is the same. There are capital-E-emotions. The plot beats are almost completely unrevised, as are many of the visual sequences. That iconic opening—the anointing of Simba as the future king of the pride, borne skyward by a mystical mandrill named Rafiki as the animal kingdom bows in reverence—is unchanged. Disney isn’t stupid; this is a company that knows why we’re here, or thinks it does. And so, again, we have Simba: hero, taunted by hyenas, blamed for the death of his father Mufasa, driven off of Pride Rock by that nefarious, hang-dog uncle Scar. All is well; all is the same.

“But in the words of that wise old mandrill Rafiki: Look harder. More than one person in your life is going to liken the photorealistic look of this movie to that of a video game cut scene — those scripted interstitial sequences that make video games feel more movie-like. They will not be entirely wrong.

“More flatteringly, The Lion King is being hailed as a major advancement for movie technology—a movie ‘filmed’ almost entirely in virtual reality. Wired magazine recently described it thusly: ‘They’—the film’s distinctive locales—’can live inside a kind of filmmaking video­game as 360-degree virtual environments full of digitized animals, around which Favreau and his crew could roam.’