The Lion King
The Lion King: A Visually Stunning Remake without the Soul of the Classic
Movie Review by Anirudh Madhav (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
When a classic animated movie from the 90s is remade, comparisons are inevitable. When the exact storyline from The Lion King is remade into a live-action animated movie, it makes us wonder – Why did Disney opt to remake the favorite of the masses in the live-action format? The remade The Lion King is photo-realistic, and has its strengths in the visual and technical aspects, however it greatly misses out on the feel of Disney’s hand-drawn sketch style of animation as seen in the original movie, 25 years ago.
After the remake of Jungle Book (2016), Jon Favreau once again helms the role of director for bringing animals to life, and recreating the movie shot-for-shot, right from ‘The Circle of Life’ song till Simba’s confrontation as a young lion with his uncle Scar. While the storyline works, the movie does not lend the impact of the original, which is probably because of the photo-realism. Each and every animal in the movie looks real and this is where the movie starts to feel a bit weird. Simba, voiced by Donald Grover almost looks like a real lion who might pounce on his sidekicks – Timon and Pumba. Then, there is a question of who eats whom in the ‘Pride Lands,’ and Mufasa earnestly answers it, mentioning the Circle of Life.
Starting with Mufasa, voiced by James Earl Jones, Zazu, voiced by John Oliver and Nala, voiced by Beyonce, the voice acting of all the characters hits the sweet spot. On the technical aspects, Disney has done an impeccable job of creating and animating the animals, their reflexes and the attention to details. For instance, there is a sequence where a dung beetle rolls a giraffe dung, and the dung ball breaks into two. The starry African night sky is portrayed beautifully, it makes us wonder if we are watching a Nat Geo documentary. However, the Pride Lands looks a bit dull, owing to the naturalistic treatment that director Jon Favreau has opted for.
The Lion King justifies its remake with the visual effects, however this is only seen in the latter half of the movie when Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumba (Seth Rogen) come into the picture. The duo manages to evoke a couple of laughs with their voice delivery, and also enhances the pace of the movie, which is longer by 30 minutes than the original. The songs lack the animated movement of the animals or maybe the filmmakers took the realism too far.
The Lion King that came to the screens over two decades ago had its pluses in colorful animation and expressive animals, and that’s where the heart of the movie lies. Disney’s effort to remake a bunch of classics has not gone in vain. There are plenty of elements in the movie that balances the remake; such as the voice acting, the live-action animation with the attention to the technical details, which could impress audiences who may not be introduced to the original Lion King. If Disney had shifted their effort of meticulous attention to details to animating the movie with animals who don’t look straight out of an African jungle, the remake would have been a fitting tribute to the classic.