Verdict: The new style of animation does a fair amount of justice to the childhood classic.
When we watched The Lion King back in the ‘90s, we could never have imagined seeing it again in a raw, pure format. But when Disney started recreating live-action versions of all of its best films, fans demanded a remake of their favorite classic. For some of us, The Lion King was more than just a film. It defined our childhood, gave generations of unimaginative pet owners a name for their feline friends (you know who you are!), and gave us music that we would have in our playlists till date. Lots of expectations were riding on the live-action remake of this film. The trailer led to many mixed reactions and now that the movie is finally here, even critics are divided in their opinion. But there’s no doubt about the fact that The Lion King is absolutely unmissable.
What’s The Lion King About:
Jon Favreau’s take on this childhood classic does not stray much from the original in terms of script or screenplay. To the uninitiated, The Lion King is the story of the lion prince Simba (voiced by JD McCrary), born to King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Queen Sarabi (Alfre Woodard) of Pride Rock. Little Simba cannot wait to grow up and become King one day but the throne is also coveted by his uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is willing to go to any lengths to become King himself. He makes a deal with the hyenas and manages to usurp the throne by killing Mufasa. Simba escapes from Pride Rock before the hyenas try to kill him on Scar’s orders. After growing up with the meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner) and warthog Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), a fully grown Simba (now voiced by Donald Glover) returns to fulfill his destiny.
Children (and adults) who have not seen The Lion King before are bound to love this film. This Hamlet-like narrative first stole hearts in 1994 and engages us even today. Tales of what it takes to be a true king and leader do not get old, especially since we do not see much of it in real life nowadays. Simba’s transformation from a boisterous little cub to a worthy king is a treat to watch in live-action. Pride Rock and all the lands around it are beautifully depicted and the cute and cuddly creatures steal your hearts right from the start. It’s amazing to watch a film that does not have a single human being in it much like director Jon Favreau’s previous live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book that only had one human character. Every character in The Lion King has a unique personality, be it the cantankerous Zazu (voiced by John Oliver), the highly relatable Timon, or the self-deprecating Pumbaa. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen steal the show in the second half of the movie and add a great dose of humor when the narrative gets serious. Even with an added scene and song for Nala, there’s not much for Beyoncé to do other than impress the audience with the beautiful voice that has made her so famous. One of the songs that deserve special mention is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” where the choreography is too cute to miss.
What Could’ve Been Better:
The portrayal of Scar leaves us wanting more. He’s no longer the flamboyant and charming villain but seems to lack the character of the Scar we know and love to hate. The overall treatment of the movie is slightly duller when compared to the animated version that had a lot more color in it. We missed John Oliver’s brand of enthusiasm in his portrayal of Zazu. The hyenas are not as bloodthirsty and some of the song renditions are different than what you’d remember.
Why You Should Watch:
The Lion King is a classic that deserves a watch with every re-release, be it in 3D or live-action. The characters or the story never get old, the music is soothing to the ears, and the movie is beautiful to watch especially in the latest version. It’s a treat for both children and adults alike!