NEW CLASSIC: Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Young Simba (JD McCrary) in a scene from Disney's live-action remake of the movie The Lion King. Supplied by Disney.
NEW CLASSIC: Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Young Simba (JD McCrary) in a scene from Disney's live-action remake of the movie The Lion King. Supplied by Disney. Disney

AT THE MOVIES: Favreau's fitting tribute to cinematic gold

MOST millennials, myself included, will remember the emotional rollercoaster that was Disney's masterpiece, The Lion King.

And no doubt many of the people I have just mentioned will be making their way through cinema doors to relive that glimpse of their childhoods with Jon Favreau's live-action reimagining of the film.

From iconic opening 'sunrise scene' - yes, I bet you can hear the music - the film draws perhaps the uncanniest parallels to the original than any remake has ever done before.

Even the dialogue throughout the film is almost word-for-word with the original.

But the hyper-realistic computer-generated characters against real African backdrops give an extra layer to the experience.

The greatest strength of this film is in the casting.

Staying on brand with his respect of the original release, Favreau's selection of James Earl Jones to voice Mufasa for a second time was the perfect bridge between the two films.

The two protagonists, Simba voiced by Donald Glover and Nala voiced by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter brought a refreshing change to the all too familiar story line and, while not changing the musical scores, the pair were able to hit notes and provide rhythm not offered by Matthew Broderick, Moira Kelly's vocal ranges in the 1994 original.

However, much like the original, it was the sprightly meerkat Timon voiced by Billy Eichner and the rambunctious warthog Pumbaa voiced by Seth Rogan who stole the show.

 

Zazu (John Oliver) and Young Simba (JD McCrary) in a scene from Disney's live action remake of the movie The Lion King. Supplied by Disney.
Zazu (John Oliver) and Young Simba (JD McCrary) in a scene from Disney's live action remake of the movie The Lion King. Supplied by Disney. Disney

The story always was and still is a dark reflection of the strive for power at all costs.

The dialogue and songs offered to the storyline by Timon and Pumbaa, often delivered with impeccable timing, are the perfect counterbalance to the darker moments presented in the film.

Favreau has shown tremendous restraint and respect for good storytelling in approaching this film.

With only slight modernisations made to the script and scenes improved using CGI, the remake is a respectful homage to what was already a cinematic masterpiece in an age where it is all too common to see creative directors claim past stories as their own.

If you enjoyed this film as a child (and perhaps now have children of your own), there is no good reason why you will not enjoy this contemporary recreation.

The Lion King

  • Verdict: 4 stars
  • Starring: Donald Glover, Beyonce Knowles-Carter and Seth Rogen
  • Running time: one hour, 58 minutes


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