Title – The Lion King (2019)
Director – Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Cast – (voices of) JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Donald Glover, Beyoncé, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner
Plot – A reimagining of the classic Disney animation that sees young lion Simba (McCrary & Glover) learn about life, love and loss in the animal kingdom as the evil Scar (Ejiofor) enacts out a tyrannical rule over the land.
“While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give”
Review by Eddie on 19/07/2019
To put it simply, weighed up against one another in a battle for ultimate supremacy, the original animated classic from 1994 would win the battle for The Lion King pride land in knockout fashion.
Full of heart, soul, imagination and of course singalong worthy songs and emotionally powerful music, the Disney classic of old still stands up today as a worthy cultural touchstone and while this new virtually carbon copied version of the tale of Simba and his quest to act out his kingly duties is still entertaining enough, Jon Favreau’s visually sumptuous yet instantly forgettable redo is a relatively cold and unnecessary cash grab from the global behemoth that is the mouse house.
From the moment the film starts with the “I see Kenya” made famous in the original, as animals of all shapes and sizes gather to witness the unveiling of lion king Mufasa’s newly born cub Simba, Favreau’s film sets itself in motion to be a risk free affair that while stunning with its downright eye-popping mastery of visuals, fails to capture the audience’s heart like the 1994 original did with ease, for those of all ages.
It’s a shame for such a visual feast that Favreau and his Disney bosses failed to think of new ways to add a different flavour to proceedings here, as while there’s some neat visual gags, added jokes (mainly courtesy of the films MVP’s Timon and Pumbaa, voiced by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen) and some of the songs remain a joy to listen to without bettering the original, this version of The Lion King plays it way to safe without doing anything else of note that would make you choose to watch this take over the briefer and more energetic original.
Another curious element to the film is with Disney’s insistence on going “photo real” they have managed like other live action re-doings to lose sight of some of the beloved characters that came to life in the original animations.
Here of course we have our cute and adorable and eventually fearsome Simba, the feisty Nala, comic relief Zazu and many more of the characters many know and love (or despise) but with the realism attached to these once animated figures much of the simplistic wonder and stretching of the imagination disappears and so too does much of the whimsy and loveable aspects.
Most notable in how the film deals with its musical numbers, as many will notice the outlandish nature of many of the original set pieces (such as Scar’s Be Prepared Nazi like sequence or Can You Feel the Love Tonight taking place in the day time!) are now transformed into more plain set-ups that while looking great, lack the spark and memorability of what we’ve come to know and therefore expect.
It all brings in to question the very being of these Disney reimagining’s, that while perfectly watchable and seriously profitable (other than poor old Dumbo), makes one wonder what the whole point of the whole escapade is other than Disney taking a seriously easy route to making quick and easy money.
If other future installments fail to add anything else of note like The Lion King, you can’t help but feel much like the never spoken about Beauty and the Beast remake or the over praised Jungle Book, many of these experiences will go down as cold hearted money earners that very few would recall in future years as anything but entertaining distractions.
Final Say –
No doubt set to be one of the great box-office behemoths of all-time, this modern day Lion King provides much wonder for the eyes but offers very little else of note to lay hold on. Perfectly watchable but instantly disposable, Jon Favreau’s film is a prime example that realism doesn’t equal better when your film is stuck in auto-pilot.
3 juicy grubs out of 5