Years back in 1994 we saw the release of the animated Disney film THE LION KING, which went on to become a cult classic that kids the world over have grown up on. Now, decades on, we see a remake of the film with photorealistic computer animated characters. But will this remake entice the audience or will the film be just another heavy on visual effects extravaganza, is what we analyse.
In the African savanna, the young lion Simba idolizes his father, Mufasa, and longs to succeed him as King of the Pridelands. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub's arrival. Scar, Mufasa's brother — and former heir to the throne — has plans of his own. A jealous Scar initiates a coup which results in Mufasa's death and Simba's exile. While in exile Simba grows up in the company of Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and warthog pair with a carefree lifestyle. As tensions rise, he is drawn back into a battle with Scar by the friends from his past life. Will Simba take back what is rightfully his is what the rest of the film is about.
Starting off since the film is a shot for shot remake of the 1994 animation do not expect differences, though an obvious fact is, more often than not viewers are left waiting for something new to happen. That being said, THE LION KING does not live up to the previous film. In fact, save for the photorealistic computer generated animatronics, little else makes an impression. When compared to the ’94 version, this new age visual effects masterpiece only brings in more colour, vividness and life like realism to a story that has since been told a million times over. Sadly, this is not where it ends, instead unlike the previous film, the new LION KING seems lacking the emotional connect. Contrary to what THE JUNGLE BOOK accomplished, THE LION KING fails to establish an emotional rapport with anyone older than a fifth grader. However, it isn’t all bad. Once the film begins, viewers are hard pressed to believe that the on screen visuals are not live action, from the way hair and particles move in the wind, to the physics of flowing and still water, the makers of THE LION KING have paid attention to the minutest detail.
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Coming to the direction, Jon Favreau has quite literally remade the original. A frame to frame copy of the 1994 film, THE LION KING features everything that made the original heart touching and endearing. Retaining James Earl Jones as the voice of Mufasa as homage to the original is something that takes the relatability of the film a notch higher. Sadly though, the rest of the voice over cast leaves a lot to be desired. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar to John O Oliver as Zazu, Donald Glover as Simba to Beyonce Knowles Carter as Nala, and Billy Eichner as Timon to Seth Rogen as Pumbaa have each given it their best, but the emotional connect that developed an instant rapport in the first film is sorely missing. Crisp editing, and well executed sequences that resemble the original almost shot for shot without looking repetitive is definitely a high point for Favreau. In terms of music, the background score and the tracks are well, let’s just say perfect. Favreau has retained a lot of the original charm in this new age rendition of a classic.
On the whole, THE LION KING features nothing new, and is in fact a step down from the original. It will however attract kids and younger audiences. At the Indian box office, the Hindi version of the film may have a better appeal as it features voice-overs by Shah Rukh Khan and his son Aryan Khan.