Film review: The Lion King

Synopsis:

Disney’s The Lion King journeys to the African savanna where a future king of Pride Rock is born. Simba (Donald Glover) the lion cub, idolises his father, King Mufasa (James Earl Jones), as he learns about the circle of life and his royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Mufasa’s brother – and former heir to the throne, has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is fraught with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba learns how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

Our review:

Recreating Disney’s classic 1994 The Lion King was a risky move for Director Jon Favreau as the film is cherished by so many generations worldwide.

While many critics have been quick to publish any minor faults, the movie ended with an applause at the Queensland premiere. For me, this highlighted that the remake will be a hit and the first version of The Lion King seen by younger generations.

In comparison to the original animated film, Jon Favreau respectfully preserved a majority of the plot while adding creative techniques and technologies to bring the story to life for a modern audience. The use of live-action filmmaking techniques, state-of-the-art virtual-reality tools and computer-generated animation was fantastic, however, I felt at times there were limited facial expressions made by the characters. This took away from some of the emotive scenes in the film as the lack of facial expressions became an obvious distraction.

The all-star cast including Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner were matched perfectly to their characters. Pumbaa (a gassy warthog) and Timon (the wisecracking meerkat) were standouts with their witty humour. I felt the screenwriters did a fantastic job at updating the screen play to be more relevant to a modern audience.

Disney has a fantastic way of engaging with its audience on an emotional level and, thankfully, none of the tear-jerking scenes were lost in the remake. In the lead up to the stampede scene (which fans would know well) I overheard the gentleman behind me whisper to his partner ‘I’m not ready’ which instantly indicated that he was moments away from joining the rest of us in having a cry. Like the original, The Lion King also touches on other emotions including grief, guilt, jealousy, anger and love.

Many of us grew up watching the original animated The Lion King and consider it to be one of Disney’s greatest films. It’s wonderful to know that future generations will be able to enjoy the exact story in a new medium. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and encourage others to see it. 

Final verdict: 4/5 stars

Director:

Jon Favreau

Cast:

Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon.  

Film rating:

PG

Fun facts:

  • Jon Favreau pitched the idea to Disney after travelling to Africa for a safari and overhearing tourists make connections with their experiences and the original The Lion King.
  • To celebrate the release of The Lion King, The Walt Disney Company launched a global conservation campaign to raise awareness of the crisis facing lions and other wildlife across Africa.The Lion King Protect the Pride campaign focuses on protecting and revitalising lion populations and the habitats they need to thrive. Disney has already donated more than $1.5 million to the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund and its partners. Disney will make additional grants as well as invite fans to help double the donation for a total contribution of up to $3 million.

Awards:

  • Disney’s 1994 classic The Lion King won Academy Awards for the original song Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Elton John, Tim Rice) and original score (Hans Zimmer).
  • In 1997, the stage production inspired by the film made its Broadway debut, subsequently winning six Tony Awards. Twenty-two years later it remains one of Broadway’s biggest hits, recently marking its 9,000th show.

If you liked the movie, try:

Toy Story 4 or Aladdin.

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