If there’s one thing that is plainly obvious about Disney’s live-action franchises, is that the studio remains steadfast in not taking chances with its remakes. The Lion King emphasis that fact, emphatically. Just like Aladdin, this modern remake makes full use of current special effects technology and computer imagery to essentially produce a frame by frame carbon copy of the original.
Critics are evidently against this formula, and they have their obvious points, mainly because it just comes across as rather expensive rehash. But moviegoers are obviously perfectly fine with it, evident by both Aladdin and The Lion King grossing over a billion dollars each. It’s working from a business point of view, which is why Disney will likely not take big chances with its future live-action projects for a long time to come.
This of course brings us to its latest offering, The Lion King, which sees Jon Favreau directing a high-tech computer animated tale that is set in the African savanna. For those familiar with the source material (the 1994 classic animated tale and the successful world touring stage musical), Favreau doesn’t stray from script.
The movie centres on Simba, the son of King Mufassa and future king who imposes a self-exile upon himself after being manipulated by Scar, Mufasa’s treacherous brother. As he ventures out on his own, he discovers new friends and new adventures all the while his homeland is ravaged by his evil uncle.
Eventually Simba makes his return to the savanna to reclaim his rightful place at the throne, culminating in a battle where old alliances and new friends make a stand to win the day. It’s rather Shakespearean, with elements of love, tragedy, laughs and drama.
It’s also complemented with a great musical score and blessed with the vocal talents of Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen and John Oliver as well as James Earl Jones (the only cast member to reprise his role from the original) to help bring the tale to life.
With so many great components, it’s easy to see why Favreau and Disney dished out a virtual frame for frame remake. To do otherwise would have proverbially screwed up a virtual open goal in terms of doing roaring box-office business.
That’s what The Lion King has done thus far. You may find some criticism in this remake but there’s no denying that it’s a success already with a story that will continue to enthral fans of the original whilst creating new fans for years to come. That’s a win already in our book.
Popcorn Rating: Sweet, tasty, despite being strangely familiar.