If it turns out Jon Favreau’s The Lion King remake uses live action plates that the animators will then superimpose hyper-realistic characters upon (and I can’t get confirmation that this has been completely ruled out), just know that there’s a precedent for this kind of thing.
And that it’s awful. That was the conceit behind Dinosaur, a bold, ambitious, and utterly boring experiment that was a production handled by both Walt Disney Animation Studios and The Secret Lab, a hybrid effects and animation house that Disney had set up in a state-of-the-art facility near the Burbank airport.
What began in the 1988 as a stop-motion project, to be directed by Paul Verhoeven with animation overseen by the legendary Phil Tippett, soon became a rather cookie cutter tale of family and survival rendered in thoroughly unconvincing and instantly dated computer animation. The first ten minutes of the movie, a wordless odyssey that followed an egg as it was about to be hatched, is magnificent but the rest … not so much.
Everything about it is both absurd (so many lemurs) and banal; it’s a movie that has the highest possible stakes (the end of the world) but can’t muster much energy or emotional investment. The film, released a few weeks after the BBC special Walking with Dinosaurs (which employed literally the same live action plates and animated characters approach), felt like yesterday’s news before it even came out. Extinction couldn’t come soon enough.