The Lion King Review

The Lion King

Thanks to the success of Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney Studios has been continually remaking their animated films into live-action films. Yet their latest remake might be their most important one yet. The Lion King is universally one of the most beloved Disney animated films of all-time, so remaking The Lion King is not going to be an easy task. Is Jon Favreau able to recapture the magic of the original or is it simply another stale remake?

The film may not reach the same level as the original, but The Lion King is still a stellar film.

The Lion King follows Simba, a small lion cub who dreams of living up to his father’s legacy as a protector of the Pride Lands. But when a tragic event causes him to leave home, Simba must find himself and find the courage to return home and regain the throne once again.

The Lion King - Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen

As you probably can tell from all of the footage (or the image above), the film is so unbelievably beautiful. Similar to The Jungle Book, the hyper-realistic look of the animals is some of the best in the business. So if you love cute and adorable animals then get ready to be overloaded with cuteness throughout the film. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to this. The animals show no facial expressions whatsoever. It may be because animals don’t have pronounced eyebrow muscles as humans do, or maybe Favreau tried to add facial expressions but it ended up looking awkward. Whatever the case may be, the lack of facial expression weakens the emotional impact of the film. In other words, you don’t see their sadness because of their lack of emotions in their faces.

Most of the emotion you feel come from your nostalgic memories. If you’re watching the film and you feel like you’ve seen this already, that’because you have. This film is almost exactly the same as the animated film. There are slight differences but the film is exactly the same—which makes sense if you think about it. Even the Broadway musical is essentially the same as the animated film and people love the musical. So why mess with perfection?

So because of that, we can easily make a comparison between the two films. Yes, all the songs that you love are in the film. Sadly, only half the songs are adapted well. As much as John Oliver is perfect for Zazu, his part in “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” pales in comparison to Rowan Atkinson. Atkinson’s version is much more fun than this version. Yet if you’ve ever seen “Last Week Tonight” on HBO, you realize that the way he speaks is just the right amount of lip and regality for Zazu.

The Lion King - Beyoncé and Donald Glover

At the same time, “Be Prepared” is not the same song that you remember from the animated film. This version, much like Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance, is more menacing and evil than Jeremy Irons’ version. But like Will Smith’s Genie, Ejiofor doesn’t try to one-up Irons. Instead, he gives a much different interpretation of the character, one that is more of an intimidating mastermind than a meek but conniving villain.

Even though those songs are a bit underwhelming, you’d be happy to know that the iconic “Hakuna Matata” is one of the better reinterpretations. In fact, it may actually be better than the original version. Both Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen completely take over the roles and make the characters theirs. Thus, “Hakuna Matata” is a better version because it’s self-aware that it’s everyone’s favorite song, takes that notion, and turns those expectations around. It definitely feels like something only Rogen and Eichner can come up with.

In addition, Rogen, Eichner, and Donald Glover are seemingly a better trio than Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, and Ernie Sabella. Shocking to read that, right? As much as Broderick, Lane, and Sabella are iconic, Glover, Rogen, and Eichner seem to have that natural best friend chemistry that the original trio didn’t have.

Donald Glover, in general, seems natural as Simba. His voice just fits the type of fun-loving, happy-go-lucky character that Simba is. Yet he brings a lot to the table than just his voice acting. His duet with Beyoncé is an upgrade over the original song as well. The song is essentially the same but with Glover and Beyoncé’s vocal flair. Unfortunately, this is Queen Bey’s only major contribution to the film. Although Nala’s role is bigger, Beyoncé’s performance doesn’t stand out in comparison to the rest of the stellar cast.

Overall, The Lion King is a film that will hit you right in the feels with all of your fond nostalgic memories. Was The Lion King something that needed to be remade? No, not really. Regardless, Jon Favreau’s beautiful remake is a film to behold. Get ready to sing along, cry, and cheer for The Lion King once again. Long live the king.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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