The Lion King – Film Review
by Katie McCann
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Jeff Nathanson (screenplay by), Brenda Chapman (story) & more
Stars: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen
The Lion King was a massive success for Disney when it was released in 1994, and rightfully so. The animation was a massive leap forward for the studio setting the bar very high for all future animated films. Plus the soundtrack became iconic from the moment the sun rose on the Serengeti in those opening frames. It was a masterpiece from the beginning. So why remake it? This is a question that can be applied to the last few Disney releases and will be asked of the next few also. Much of it has to do with the correction of white washing in previous films, such as Aladdin, but more seems to have to do with making money. Lots of money. And this new Lion King is absolutely going to do that.
Plot wise, you know the score. This is Hamlet with Lions. Young Simba is a head strong cub whose father Mufasa is murdered by his uncle Scar in order to become King of Pride Rock. Simba runs away and finds himself best mates with a meerkat and a warthog. Hilarity ensues. But can Simba continue to deny who he is, his past and who he is destined to be?
If you have seen the original you have already seen this one. That said there are still moments of magic. The opening shot of the sun rising over the Serengeti with the opening bars of the Circle of Life blaring over it cannot fail to give you goosebumps. At first it is impossible to tell what is real and what is CGI as the realism of the world is startling. Disney have taken a massive leap with their CGI in this version of the Lion King and they show it off with stunning pizazz and almost photo-realistic animals. They are so realistic, in fact, that sadly they lack the human-like emotive faces of the original animated film which leaves you feeling a little more disconnected to the characters than in the original. Yet the skill of the designers here cannot be denied and all props must go to the programmers who made this film possible.
Yes, it’s almost a shot by shot remake. Yes, there are moments that feel as if they are added in just to make it a little different even though it is still the same. But it’s still magical and sweet and heartbreaking and full of brilliant songs! Plus it now has Beyonce and who doesn’t love Beyonce?
Did this movie need to be remade? Absolutely not. Will it make millions and have people singing along to Hakuna Matata all over again like in the early 1990’s? Without a shadow of a doubt. Go along and see this in IMAX (seriously, it is worth the extra money to see every beautiful detail) and if you leave your scepticism at the door, I promise you will have a very enjoyable time.