The Lion King Review
Dan Skip Allen
We all know by now that Disney has a built in cash-cow by remaking their own movies. First came Maleficent, the live action version of Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie as the evil Maleficent. Then came Cinderella starring Lily James as the title character. Beauty and the Beast andPete’s Dragon followed. Earlier this year we got remakes of Dumbo and Aladdin. It only makes sense that filmgoers would get the inevitable remake of The Lion King.
Jon Favreau directed the live action version of The Jungle Book that came out in 2016. It had a realistic look and feel to it, so it makes sense that Disney would recruit Favreau to direct the live action The Lion King. He created a way of making the animals and backdrops look like they were real. This was a perfect way to approach The Lion King. The thing that is the greatest among many great things in The Lion King are the visual effects. The groundbreaking visuals are so real. It’s like the Serengeti was actually filmed and it was put on screen. That’s how stunningly realistic and gorgeous this film looks. The cliffs, water, trees and sky all look visually tangible like you could reach out and touch them. This is the tip of the iceberg for this film.
Disney has had the reputation of having great casts in their films. From Marvel movies to Star Wars movies and even Pixar films they get the best casts money can buy. Like The Jungle Book, The Lion King has an all-star cast. At the top is James Earl-Jones reprising his legendary role as Mufasa, King of the Serengeti and father of Simba. Joining him are Donald Glover as Simba, Beyonce Knowles as Nala, Chiwetel Edjifor as Scar and Alfre Woodard as Sarabi. Recasting Timon & Pumbaa was going to be a chore though. In the original, Nathan Lane & Ernie Sabella were superb as these characters. The same goes for Rowan Atkinson as Zazu. John Oliver, Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner almost steal the entire movie. They are phenomenal as Timon, Pumbaa and Zazu. Throw in Keegan Michael Key as one of the Hyenas and you have a cast that rivals any movie.
Trying to remake The Lion King was not going to be easy but Jon Faveau knocked it out of the park. This movie does the original justice and goes the extra mile. It is one of, if not, the most beautiful films I have ever seen. I have been watching movies for over forty years and this film is absolutely breathtaking. How he did it I will never know. I have heard one frame is real though. See if you can seek it out, I couldn’t. It won’t be nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar though. Because of the realistic visual effects. I’m not counting out a Best Picture nom though. The music brought me back to the original. I was all but singing along during Hakuna Matata, The Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love Tonight. These songs from Elton John and Tim Rice are so nostalgic to me and so many others I know. This film is clearly the best film I’ve seen in 2019. It is a wonder to behold.
4 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen