When you look at the breathtaking visuals of the new live-action version of the 1994 epic The Lion King, a part of you will feel that this update that came with the support of the new technology is a great thing. But where the movie somehow doesn’t look emotional is when it focuses on its characters. The pure animation film had characters talking with moving lips moving, along with perfect expression. This new version by Jon Favreau has not really managed to surpass that hurdle in a convincing way. Having said that, The Lion King is a nostalgic emotion and even with flaws, you tend to root for the beautiful story.
Mufasa is the king of the jungle. And he is that king who makes sure that the system is balanced. His young son Simba had a different idea about the whole power equation. But Mufasa taught him how to be a perfect king. But one day the crooked plans of Simba’s uncle Scar to get the power entirely change the life of Simba. What happens post that in the life of Simba is what The Lion King showing us.
The specialty of The Lion King was that it wasn’t a mere animation movie with a template motivational backdrop. It talked about the right usage of power. It talked about compassion and even after many years, there were films that looked like an adaptation of The Lion King (Including our very own Baahubali). The fact that this movie wasn’t just about fun makes it a special one. When I saw the new version and when Mufasa says the classic “Everything the light touches is our kingdom…” the content still feels pertinent and I would say even more striking. This is a story that can be considered as a metaphor for what is happening to the human race and the situation in 2019 is much worse than in 1994.
Coming to the making, this Jon Favreau version has an excess of 20 minutes compared to the one directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. And that’s majorly due to the way they have added some additional screenplay to show the viewers about what happened in Pride Lands when Simba ran away from his responsibilities. Unlike the 1994 version, there is a little more space and importance given to Sarabi and Nala. The sequence that shows us how Rafiki knows Simba is still alive has a new interpretation. And Pumbaa and Timon are very close to dragging pop culture reference in their dialogues. As I said in the beginning, when you look at visuals from a wider angle that shows the entire landscape, the feeling is grand. The real cub version of Simba is definitely cuter than the animated version. The Lion King is a movie that connects with you emotionally and when you can’t really show that shift in emotions on the face of your principal characters, it definitely reduces the impact. Background score can still give you Goosebumps.
James Earl Jones reprises his role as the voice for Mufasa. Donald Glover manages to give an immature, naïve texture in his portrayal of Simba. JD McCrary also deserves a shout out for voicing the younger Simba. Seth Rogen with his signature laugh makes Pumbaa memorable. Chiwetel Ejiofor was convincing as the crooked Scar. Billy Eichner in combination with Rogen was funny. Talk show host John Oliver has voiced the part of Zazu. I don’t feel like talking much about the voice acting and the reason is the fact that it feels more like a mere dubbing thing rather than voice acting due to the missing of expressions.
Whether to watch it or not might not have been a dilemma in anyone’s mind who has seen and experienced The Lion King. The problems of a live-action adaptation are there for sure in this movie and yet it’s a story that has the capacity to keep you interested. The lack of facial expression isn’t going to stop you from recommending this movie to anyone.
This is a story that can be considered as a metaphor for what is happening to the human race and the situation in 2019 is much worse than in 1994.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended