March 6-8, 2020
It’s the circle of Disney live-action remakes, and now The Lion King’s turn has come around. The film’s intention is incredibly ambitious, even with an all-star cast and director Jon Favreau at the helm.
Whilst some may debate whether this would be considered live-action, it certainly aims to give a strong sense of reality. ’90s kids may even argue there’s no point in trying to recreate perfection. So with that in mind, how does the film stand on its own four paws?
From the sunrise first lighting up the big screen, the film recreates much of what we’ve seen and loved before. Some sequences like Circle of Life are almost literal shot-for-shot renditions of the original. Other sequences, however, given its photo-realism and having that nature documentary vibe, are altered to some effect. Those sequences give a new take and offer the opportunity to make this film stand on its own rather than just being just a ‘live-action reproduction’. For example, the colourful fantasy-style animation sequences used in the original’s I Just Can’t Wait To Be King number is not present in this film, keeping in line with the realistic-looking retelling of this tale.
The technology behind this film is nothing short of outstanding. Blending real-life footage with CGI and photo-realism, every little animal movement is jaw-dropping. You end up expecting Sir David Attenborough’s narration to interject at any given moment.
The film’s pace is on par (paw?) with its predecessor, and its orchestral score borrows a lot from the source material as expected, with some fitting new additions. The vocal performances are clearly influenced by the previous cast, but all make their characters their own. Timon and Pumbaa (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen) stole the show, bringing in new jokes and even referencing the original film. They brightened the film’s otherwise fairly serious tone.
The film has, for the most part, played safe with barely any alteration to the original storyline; rather, it extends on certain plot points like how Nala found Simba in the film’s second half. It does, however, change the mystical elements of the original in such a way that was needed to keep within the overall vision of this adaption.
The Lion King is a visual feast fit for royalty and a lion’s appetite. It remembers who it is and pays tribute to the Disney masterpiece while becoming its own animal.
The Lion King is in cinemas now.