Author: Jorge Ramos
Disney seems to always have something for you, out of the blue came the idea of the Live-Action films and adaptations, to top that, they went for the classics, and after the release of Beauty and The Beast, Dumbo, and Aladdin, came the long-time beloved Lion King.
To be honest it has been quite the awkward ride for these projects, and at least for us, this is the most awaited movie of them all, probably more – football odds fans forgive us – than the new NFL season. We are talking about a movie, that alongside Aladdin marked multiple generations.
That’s why there was so much uncertainty about it, and to be honest, it was not a big deal, it was almost the exact same script and songs as the original movie. With very little variants, (as it was to cut out the “Be Prepared” march scene in one of Scars’ songs), but with a lovely and beautiful ambiance that just looks magnificent.
The Director of the film was Jon Favreau, who also directed the live-action adaptation of the Jungle Book, showing a lot of respect for what the film represents. This was also his first time directing a Musical, that, as it happened with Aladdin received mixed reactions when it was announced.
Favreau went all out when it came to the casting, with Daniel Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles as Nala, both of them showing off their singing skills. Besides, the legendary James Earl Jones reprised his role on the original 1994 animated version as Mufasa, Simba’s Father.
The other characters also had brilliant artists and actors voicing them, the always funny John Oliver as the curious and meticulous Majordomo for the Royal Family, Zazu; and the pair that created the legendary “Hakuna Matata” Timon and Pumba, were hilariously interpreted by iconic comedy actors such as Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen respectively.
25 years later, the circle of life was again explained in the cinemas by Mufasa, in a quite spectacular fashion, although the CGI was insanely accurate, and well done. The Lions muscles and movements were silky smooth, but it lost the effect of magical realism that denoted the original film.
Besides all the critics to it, the nostalgia effect hits hard on you since the first frames of the movie, and specially when the lion cub starts to sing with Nala the classic “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”. With all the animals running and singing along, replicating almost the whole sequence of the original movie.
To those who are wondering, yes, Scar is insanely Scary (see what we did there?). The main antagonist, and Simba’s uncle was voiced by British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and he portrays perfectly the manipulative and power-hungry Lion. It does fill you with remorse the way he lures Simba both to the Elephant Graveyard and later to the Canyon.
Oh yeah, the Canyon. It was quite the surprise to see so many people crying at the death of Mufasa. The same happened when some of the most beloved Disney characters ever, appeared and sang “Hakuna Matata” alongside the lost cub, with half of the cinema clapping and singing along.
One of the most important characters in the original version had his part reduced. Rafiki, the mandrill that lifts Simba at the start of the film and provides Shaman-like services to the Royal Family, is barely seen in the movie interacting with the other characters. And, in a darker environment. Although his scene when reminding Simba who he is, is still iconic.
The power of reminiscence is the biggest strength of the film, as we said before, the script is practically the same, the music and iconic scenes are majestic and are the only thing to love about it, but the CGI didn’t actually do a lot for the movie itself.
The cast is just insane, and did a great job, but now we are curious to see what other classic animated film Disney will try to remake with a Live Action version.
The movie currently does not have a high rating in Rotten Tomatoes though, with the Tomatometer measuring it in 53%. The critic from New Yorker, for example, Anthony Lane, said “aside from the updating of the vocal cast, the most blatant discrepancy between the old and the new is a very slight increase in the comedy of flatulence”.
Fart jokes aside, the audience seems to enjoy it, while a big difference compared to the critics: 88% of the anonymous viewers gave a positive rating to the movie in Rotten Tomatoes. All in all, the movie is still enjoyable and a great nostalgia getaway for a Sunday afternoon with your family or friends.