As I’m sure many of you have noticed, Disney are re-releasing many of their old classics as live action films. In this year alone they have released Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King with Maleficent 2 coming out later this year. The most recent of these films, and I think the film everyone is the most excited for, is The Lion King. When Disney announced they were making a remake of The Lion King fans were apprehensive. The Lion King was one of Disney’s most successful films of the Disney Renaissance era (1989 – 1999), is cherished by fans and is considered cult classic. Although Dumbo had received positive reviews, fans were worried that the remake would tarnish The Lion King’s legacy.
(Spoiler alert from this point onwards)
Before I give you my thoughts on the film I want to look at how the original Lion King, the 1994 version, came to be. It may be wrong to call the 1994 version an original as most audiences were already familiar with the plot. The Lion King shares the same plot as Shakespeare’s Hamlet. A young prince is exiled from his kingdom, a father is betrayed and murdered by an uncle. The same uncle is later killed by the protagonist and both protagonists have two strong male companions and a childhood crush who becomes a love interest.
Some critics of Disney have have accused the company of ripping of Kimba the White Lion, a Japanese Magna series. Have a look at the comparison shots below.
Although there is a strong case to be made, some of Lion King’s shots are clearly swiped from Kimba and the names Kimba and Simba are only one syllable apart, I don’t think anyone could win in a legal battle with Disney.
If I had to describe the 2019 Lion King film in a single word I would say “Majestic”. As you can see from the trailer above, the physical appearance of most of the characters is astounding. Aside from talking, they could easily almost be mistaken for real animals. In the opening scene of the film, Rafiki sprinkles a liquid on Simba’s fur during a christening like ceremony. The way the liquid spreads unevenly across Sima’s fur, which itself is moving in the breeze, is brilliant and sets the bar for the rest of the film. It becomes obvious, within the first few frames, that the animators have studied different animal’s body language and movements to create a sense of realism.
Although the plot of this film does change slightly from the 1994 version, it is still as powerful, arguably more so. Mufasa’s death is still devastating, young Nala and Simba are adorable and Zazu, Timon and Pumbaa are hilarious (more on the latter two in a moment.) In other cases the film mirrors shots from the 1994 film as a nod to fan.
It should also be mentioned that Nala, the female lead, is voiced by Beyonce who loans her voice to the film’s soundtrack.
Although The Lion King was bound to attract fans who had grown up with the 1994 version, it’s target audience is primarily families. With this in mind, I was very surprised that the producers added in several jump scares. Although these scares were followed by a joke or played for comedic effect, I still couldn’t help wandering if it was too extreme for younger viewers.
I also questioned the character’s designs, in particular Scar’s and Pumbaa’s. This film was meant to focus on realism but even with that in mind I found myself preferring the 1994’s version.
Pumbaa is… ugly. I know that he’s a warthog and he’s meant to be ugly but compared to the other characters he is the odd one out. I also prefer the original voice actors for Timon and Pumbaa (Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella respectively) but that is just personal preference. I also prefer the original song Be Prepared song by Scar and the hyenas. I thought the new version was lack lustre.
These points don’t, in any way, ruin the film. I think this is the best film I’ve seen this year. I’ll give Lion King 10 pride rocks out of 10.
In summary, it’s brilliant.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.