Pros: Amazing technology; music; a story that has not been spoiled by a new reimagining; light-hearted jokes of Timon and Pumbaa Cons: it is impossible to resist comparing the remake with the 1994 original, which seems more emotional than The Lion King
Genre: animation, musical
Director Jon Favreau
Cast: Donald Glover (Simba), J.D. McCrary (young Simba), Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Nala), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), Billy Eichner (Timon), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), Alfre Woodard (Sarabi), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), John Oliver (Zazu), etc.
Walt Disney Pictures, Fairview Entertainment
Year of release 2019
It’s time to come to terms with the fact that the best animated stories from Walt Disney Pictures are slowly being turned into films. It was much easier to accept this in the case of “Aladdin” than with “The Lion King” – a cartoon that for 25 years could touch even the most persistent and unsentimental viewer. No wonder it became one of the best-selling hand-drawn stories distributed on VHS.
But the remake of “The Lion King” cannot be fully appreciated at home; it is best watched in IMAX or at least in 3D. To say that the visual effects are worth it would be an understatement. It seems that we have never been shown anything like this before. This is confirmed by director Jon Favreau, who describes the production of the film as the development of a multiplayer VR game, within which animated performances were created.
Everything on the screen is so realistic that the first minutes of the film make you doubt that what you saw was created by man. For a while, it seems that these are just enhanced footage from documentaries about nature and its inhabitants, filmed for National Geographic. This strange feeling does not leave until the animals begin to pronounce lines. It’s still difficult to switch your consciousness to the dialogues; attention is still focused on details: the hardest thing is to take your eyes off the fur of the predators. It is so realistic that the illusion of touch appears in the cinema. Over time, the eyes get used to it, and the graphics become more noticeable, but the first impression is not forgotten.
Director Jon Favreau (who directed Iron Man and also played the character Happy Hogan in the Marvel Universe) has previously worked with virtual reality tools. Favreau used them for the production of the film “The Jungle Book”. In the remake of The Lion King, these technologies were improved, and a film set was no longer needed for VR.
Presenting the world with a new take on The Lion King, Jon Favreau and screenwriter Jeff Nathanson prudently did not change the plot, which takes place on the African savannah. Despite the fact that the remake’s running time is 30 minutes longer than the original cartoon, many scenes are recreated without significant changes. Because of this, of course, you automatically begin to compare what is happening on the screen with your memories of the cartoon (instead of plunging into the intrigue – for obvious reasons it does not exist for older viewers).
What’s new is the humor that accompanies Timon and Pumbaa, once again making them one of the best characters in the film. By the way, they came up with several updated angles for them, similar to shooting with a GoPro camera. Otherwise, Walt Disney Pictures adheres to classic views and still places emphasis with the help of songs.
Singing realistic animals are a spectacle for everyone. However, it is worth considering that in the original the character of Simba speaks in the voice of actor Donald Glover (aka popular musician Childish Gambino), and his friend Nala was voiced by singer Beyoncé. This changes the idea of the musical component of The Lion King, but we will not be able to appreciate it in the cinema – all the songs are presented in Ukrainian. Apparently, taking into account the fact that subtitles are not intended for children. Therefore, the multifaceted palette of the song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” performed by Glover and Beyoncé can only be heard on YouTube. This composition also features the voices of Seth Rogen, who voiced Pumbaa, and Billy Eichner, who became Timon.
Hans Zimmer, as before, is responsible for the main musical accompaniment of The Lion King, so the majestic atmosphere of the savannah does not go away. Familiar melodies are incredibly pleasing, regardless of the perception of the new presentation of Simba’s story.
It’s interesting that recognition may be the downside of the new film. The story of a lion growing up is so beloved in the cartoon that getting to know it again may not be very inspiring. Because of the realism of what is happening, the story no longer seems flawless. After watching it, it’s hard to get rid of the thought that with painted animals everything was different – more logical, more emotional and more soulful.
However, this will be said by those who years earlier were already moved by the hand-drawn version of The Lion King. The new generation will be able to be impressed by both the tragic and visual components of the remake. So the film “The Lion King” should not be labeled as mediocrity.
From a visual perspective, The Lion King deserves a lot of praise. It’s absolutely worth seeing in the cinema, choosing IMAX or 3D sessions