'The Lion King' review: The film is good but not as great as the original

WION Web Team New Delhi Jul 19, 2019, 01.50 PM(IST) Written By: Shomini Sen

File photo of 'The Lion King' Photograph:( Instagram )

Story highlights

The original film was an animated feature that proved to be a game-changer for the genre itself and also became a textbook example of how vivid an animation film can be. Disney's remake of the cult classic in live-action format could also pave way for more such films where CGI enabled characters take centre stage.

For a lot of us, 'The Lion King' has been an integral part of our childhood. The story that taught us the concept of 'Circle Of Life', the story that told us about death, responsibilities, and ownership, the story that gave the world the wonderful phrase 'Hakuna Matata' may have released two decades back but the story still holds a lot of meaning in present times.

The original film was an animated feature that proved to be a game-changer for the genre itself and also became a textbook example of how vivid an animation film can be. Disney's remake of the cult classic in live-action format could also pave way for more such films where CGI enabled characters take centre stage.

The only big risk that director Jon Favreau takes with the new version of 'The Lion King' is agreeing to make a cult classic in a live-action format- to give it a realistic feel. But Favreau sticks to the basic from the word go and remakes the original scene by scene. The result ultimately is that the film is high on animations and technical finesse but lacks the magic and innocence of the original.

A story that draws inspiration from Shakespeare's Hamlet, 'The Lion King' is about a young prince Simba(Donald Glover), who grows up with the guilt of his father Mufasa's death. Mufasa- the king of the jungle was a just, brave king and it was always understood that Simba would follow his footsteps. A freak accident leads to the King's death and Simba is asked to leave his pack and the kingdom which is rightfully his own and never come back. Simba grows up amongst happy-go-lucky animals and befriends Pumba and Timon.

Things are smooth untill Simba meets Nala (Beyonce) his childhood friend who asks him to come back and claim his rightful place. Together with Nala and his friends, Simba heads back to claim what his position and save his kingdom from the evil clutches of his Uncle Scar.

The film sticks to the basics. The story does not tamper the original plot and the impressive line up of actors voicing the popular characters gives the film a lot of weight. Glover appears as the grown-up Simba only an hour into the film, but it's great to hear him as the reluctant prince of the Jungle. Whoever thought of getting Beyonce on board to voice Nala should be given an award because every time Beyonce croons- even if a line or two- it seems magical. Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Billy Eichner as Timon and John Oliver as Zazu get the best lines of course.

Hans Zimmer, the original composer of 1994 movie, gives the score of the new one as well and recreates the same score once again. The songs- 'Circle Of Life', 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight' and the classic 'Hakuna Matata' are all recreated with the new artists and will make you sing along.

The past few years, Disney has taken up some of its greatest animations and turned them into live-action films. While the essence of 'The Lion King' remains the same, somehow, the magic and charm of the original are missing.

The CGI created animals are all too real but lack the expressions that the original animated ones had and brought so much joy the viewers. The way Africa came alive in the original film, ironically never looks that vivid and lush in the live-action format. The result is that the film is technically very good but somewhere lacks the soul.

Disney, of course, has not remade the film for people who have grown up on the original. Its target audience is children and for them, Favreau's version serves as a beautiful insight into the jungle life. For those, like me, who have grown up loving the 1994 cult classic- best to stick to the original.