The Lion King is the latest entry into Disney’s list of live-action remakes of their classic animations. Released 25 years after the original film, the Lion King capitalizes on the nostalgia effect of the audience that first watched it as children.
With this remake, it seems Disney decided to spare no expense with a $ 260 million budget. The film features an A list cast that includes Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) as Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, John Oliver as Zazu and more high profile names. It was directed by the legendary Jon Favreau right off his work on Disney’s live-action remake of their other classic animation, The Jungle Book. The film also boasts of amazing photo-realistic graphics that could almost get confused for nature shots.
The cast does a wonderful job voicing the characters; the humor is there and the musical numbers are especially outstanding. The animation is also on point with the animals being depicted anatomically correctly down to the smallest details. This realism also makes the film perhaps a little darker. Scenes like the ones with the ever-hungry hyenas, the wildebeest stampede and the animal fight scenes are all scarier in this realistic version than they were in the more cartoonish original film.
In striving to make the film as realistic as possible, it, unfortunately, lost some of its magical touch. Scenes like when the animals form a pyramid during a musical number or the touching scene where Mufasa appears in the clouds to his son Simba in his low moment have either been removed or changed for more realistic ones, losing their charm in the process. There is something beautiful about animals swinging on tree branches or having very expressive faces that is unfortunately lost when they are made to look and behave like animals.
On its own, this is a great family movie enough to leave you impressed, happy and satisfied. However, it is not a movie that can just be judged on its own merits alone. Being a remake of such a beloved classic, this remake had a lot to live up to and unfortunately, it fails to achieve those expectations. By comparison, what this movie gains in having stunning visuals, a star cast, and the element of nostalgia, it loses in having no magic, no heart, and no element of surprise that made the first one a classic. This film will no doubt be a huge box office success, but it will definitely not be as culturally significant as the original was.
So, to watch it or not to? Well, I say watch; there is a lot to be enjoyed in this movie. But, do not go into it expecting the same spirit and magic of the first one, there is little of that here.


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