Based on the animated film in 1994, 'The Lion King' is the story of how the life of a young lion changes after his father is murdered.
To say this live-action film is a computer-animated remake of 1994’s animated classic doesn’t quite justify its visual impact. The technical advancement in computer animation is on full display here, and it’s genuinely staggering to experience. There are moments when you will wonder if you're watching a wildlife documentary, albeit with one big difference. It’s all scripted with a story you’re familiar with, especially if you’ve watched the 1994 version. So, you already know how this all plays out, and there are virtually no surprises at all. The performances feel somewhat restricted by the realistic portrayal of animals in this version, as it leaves very little room to emote besides the voice work.
This is where things get really tricky, despite having an immensely talented voice cast. Both Donald Glover and Beyoncé Knowles have the singing credentials, and while Glover adds some charisma to Simba, Nala doesn’t get much to speak of. Still, their relationship is charming in parts. Chiwetel Ejiofor certainly does more to make Scar menacing, and perhaps just enough to remember him as a formidable villain. The most enjoyable characters are Pumbaa and Timon, voiced by Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner respectively. They lighten up the proceedings and bring some much-needed personality with the adorable warthog and meerkat combination. A spin-off featuring Simba, Pumbaa and Timon would be well-received and arguably far more entertaining. As he did in the original, James Earl Jones plays Mufasa once again to bring home the nostalgic factor.
But there's only so much mileage you can get on nostalgia. ‘The Lion King’ is a shot-by-shot, track-by-track remake which highlights the challenge with the onslaught of live-action re-creations. Is it preferable to stick to the source material, or does it make sense to change it up for current audiences? Jon Favreau prefers to play it safe here, and although that may leave an impression on new audiences, those who have grown up on the animated classic might struggle to find their childhood sentiments revived. Nevertheless, watching this family-favourite come to life will trigger enough awe-inspiring moments thanks to its visual achievements, and that itself warrants a trip to your nearest 3D screen.