FILM & TV REVIEW | THE LION KING (2019)

People of all ages remember the Disney’s 1994 classic The Lion King. Starring notable voices of James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Rowan Atkinson and Matthew Broderick, the animated film truly created a vibrant, humorous and meaningful animal world.

After the success of the live-action remake of The Jungle Book, Disney announced that The Lion King would be getting the same treatment. Now, in July 2019, the live-action visualisation of our beloved Simba and Mufasa is finally here.

After seeing remake of The Jungle Book, I was extremely excited for Disney to bring The Lion King to life with excellent cgi and an incredible cast. At first, I had my doubts about particular actors and if they would live up to the voices from the original, such as Seth Rogen as Pumba and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar instead of Jeremy Irons. However, it is safe to say I loved both of them as their characters, as well as every other choice of voice. Seth Rogen brought his own humour and trademark laugh to the film, which, combined with accuracy of the 1994 Pumba, made the character just as lovable and entertaining. His partnership with Billy Eichner’s Timon certainly did justice to the humorous pair of the original, with every scene of theres making me and every audience member laugh hysterically.

From Chiwetel Ejiofor’s first scene as Scar, there was a dark and menacing presence, something that contrasted Jeremy Irons’ evil, yet camp portrayal. Whilst I loved everything about Irons’ Scar, Ejiofor’s sinister voice combined with the battered and ‘scarred’, yet realistic cgi lion acts as a visual epitome of menacing and evil. It is evident that many have criticised Disney’s choice in creating 2019 Scar’s appearance more realistic to a lion, as apposed to giving him his previous black mane in the 94′ version. I personally love the realism of new Scar’s appearance, and whilst it is somewhat difficult to distinguish characters in some scenes such as the Simba/Scar battle, the new live-action remakes are clearly attempting to bring as much realism to the characters as possible (minus the talking, singing and relationships between lions and their prey).

On the subject of singing; that was perhaps one thing that Ejiofor couldn’t quite match against Jeremy Irons. 94′ Scar’s ‘Be Prepared’ song was a large musical scene, with some questionable ‘nazi-parade’ styled hyenas (which was rightly excluded from the remake) and a scheming Scar that fully embraced Irons vocals. On the other hand, reports have stated that singing isn’t Ejiofor’s strong suit, and that is somewhat evident in the Be Prepared scene. However, Ejiofor does perform the song, but an alternate version, that seems shorter and almost more of a speech. Whilst this was perhaps one of the major differences in scenes between the films, it still served its purpose and provided a perfectly dark scene.

Lastly, with an abundance of new and exciting cast members, I was extremely thrilled to hear of James Earl Jones returning to play the one and only Mufasa. Everybody is familiar with the greatness of James Earl Jones’ natural voice, which undoubtably contributes to the incredible presence of Mufasa and his speeches to his pride members. Whilst it was sad to hear of other 94′ cast members not reprising roles in the remake, I’m sure I can speak on everybody’s behalf when I say that Mufasa could not be voiced by anybody else.

Overall, Disney’s new remake of The Lion King is incredible, both visually and as an emotional, hilarious and exciting film.

Whilst many critics have jumped on the bandwagon of slating Disney’s choice to retreat the incredible original ‘purely for money’, I can’t help but to disagree. The state of the art cgi allows each character to look like they were taken from a real nature documentary, thus allowing a new and realistic visualisation of the classic, with opportunities for nostalgia to pour in every minute and in every scene.

Many reviews have stated that the remake is not necessary, but personally, I think many are just looking for something to moan about. This film is truly entertaining and full of nostalgia from the very start, and definitely worth watching.

 

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