Does the Lion King Remake Live Up to the Original?

Cast: Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Director: Jon Favreau

Synopsis: A lion cub flees his kingdom when his father is murdered. He goes on a journey which involves him learning the meaning of responsibility and bravery.

Review: Growing up having seen the original Disney’s Lion King, I was keen to see this 2019 live-action Lion King remake, even if it was basically the same storyline.

I thought Jon Favreau produced a brilliant reproduction of The Jungle Book (2016) and wanted to see how he would approach a film without any real actors or live action, so to speak. I had read a little on how the film was made before I saw it at the cinema and found the process interesting – every shot, except for the first, was created on a computer. It all took place in a warehouse and using VR sets to visualise the landscape.

Research in Kenya clearly helped get this film right as every blade of grass, every animal hair, looked perfect. However, what got to me was the lack of expression on the animals’ faces in poignant moments. It is obviously a catch 22 as the point of the film was to make it seem like live action, which means you cannot have animals showing expressions and emotions like humans do, but it did it leave it a little flat in places.

The only actor to return to voice the same character was James Earl Jones (Mufasa), otherwise it was a fresh new cast. Whilst James Earl Jones will always be Mufasa, his voice, naturally, had changed a little and fitted this current style of film.

The rest of the voice cast all lent themselves well to their characters, but there were a few who really stole the show. Scar, voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor, gave a strong performance, as did Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and Billy Eichner (Timon) – two actors who complemented each other brilliantly and gave the film a boost. Watch out for a nod to another Disney classic with these two towards the end of the film.

The music remained true to the original with favourite songs such as 'Circle of Life' (always an emotional piece of music) and 'I Just Can’t Wait to be King', as well as 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight?', but there were a few new ones that worked well and lengthened the run time.

Overall, it is an interesting and clever piece of filmic art and an enjoyable watch, but rather than the emotional 1994 original it seemed more of a ‘let’s prove we can do this’ project. That’s not a bad thing, but it does make me wonder: can remakes ever be better than originals?

Score - 7/10.

Written by Rebecca Perkin

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