Directed by Jon Favreau and a photorealistic live-action remake of the classic 1994 Disney film, The Lion King follows the story of a young lion, Simba (voiced by Donald Glover), who must embrace his role as the rightful king of his native African land following the murder of his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones), at the hands of his uncle, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor). With the help of his friends – Nala (Beyoncé), Zazu (John Oliver), Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) – Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.
I refused to be a part of the negativity around the release of this film when it was released a few months ago, but now that I’ve finally gotten around to seeing it, I kind of see where it was all coming from.
Even a few minutes into this film I found myself thinking, “This is absolutely pointless.” But I also thought it was kind of cute, for a little while.
However, whilst some of the animation is stunning, there are a few awkwardly edited moments that don’t look good at all. The lack of expressions on the animals’ faces really shows, too, resulting in the film not having any of the emotional engagement or impact that the original animation has.
I’ve enjoyed many of the other live-action Disney re-tellings because they are actually live-action remakes, bringing the animation to life. But obviously that was impossible to do with a film that has no human presence. But even with The Jungle Book which Jon Favreau also directed, there was so much more added to the story that it felt like it was a film worth making (and watching more than once).
With The Lion King, however, it’s almost a shot-for-shot copy of the original film, with a few missing highlights (Where was “They call me Mister Pig”?) and an added Beyonce song which was completely unnecessary, so it’s difficult to find the appeal or purpose of this film.
There is a bit of added humour with Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa, respectively, being the best things about this, but most of the voice cast just doesn’t sound right, not when the original film had such an iconic cast to begin with. You really can’t better Jeremy Irons as Scar and Rowan Atkinson as Zazu, and it’s hard to avoid thinking about them when you still have James Earl Jones voicing Mufasa.
The musical performances are great, though, and I especially love Donald Glover, but I’m really not a fan of Beyonce who I think over-does every single thing. I also think that Florence Kasumba is a great Shenzi, but what was with that female stand-off between Nala and Shenzi? What is this, The Avengers?!
I’m sure my toddler will make me watch this a few more times and I won’t completely blame him for that, but I also know that even he would rather watch the original film over and over again than this new not-so-live-action adaptation.
It’s not awful by any means, it’s just uninspiring.