Simba the lion cub (Donald Glover) leads a carefree life. Heir apparent to the pride lands, his father Mufasa tries instruct the young cub on the ways to be king. However it turns out that not everyone wants to see Simba to become the Lion King…
… is a visual marvel for the eyes.
Brought up to date with the very latest in special effects, Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the animated Disney classic is a visual marvel for the eyes. With photo realistic animals, improved body physics and heightened textural detail, the Lion King’s kingdom has never looked so visually rich. However with all these anatomically perfect renditions, it means that the voice cast have to work extra hard to convey any emotion, and this is where there are winners and losers in the sound booth.
The clear stand-out performance here belongs to Chiwetel Ejiofor as the bested and vengeful lion Scar. Infusing deceit into every consonant, his tired subtext constantly hints at a betrayal that is yet to come. However when it comes to comparing the meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner) and warthog Pumba (Seth Rogen), it’s clear that this new duo are the real reason to watch Jon Favreau’s update. Gifted with an iconic ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ entrance, both characters quickly poke fun both at themselves and the world at large, easily puncturing the more pompous plot of Simba’s fallen kingdom.
With John Oliver rounding out the movie’s comic offerings to good effect, the eventual adult arrival of Donald Glover and Beyonce feels strangely muted until they start to sing. ‘Can you feel the love tonight?’ and others are all decently delivered, however it’s more more likely that you’ll be humming Timon and Pumba’s ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ on the way home than anything else.
So, now that all the anticipation is done and the heavy marketing can rest, the question is: will you be taking your place in this newest circle of life? Or should you stay at home with the animated classic?
Whilst both versions share the same fundamental DNA, each are actually very different movies. Like ‘Gravity’ and other effects-defining movies before it, this new Lion King is a cinematic event and it should be enjoyed as such on the biggest screen possible. Whilst your fondest memories are likely to remain with the original, it’s worth enjoying this new ‘Lion King’ in its intended habitat before it succumbs to another live-action sunset.