It’s kind of incredible to be part of a generation where we’re getting remade versions of films.
I’m not talking re-releases or additional footage or any of that stuff, I’m talking straight-up remade films.
While the majority recently are based on animated features, it doesn’t diminish the effort or time required for them. In many ways, it’s trickier having to meet it at the level expected from the original audience, while building it for the new.
And when you’re something as memorable and as exceptional as The Lion King, then the task seems almost insurmountable.
And that’s why you sign up the guy who directed Iron Man (and okay, The Jungle Book (2016) also) to take on this film head-on.
Simba, the son of Mufasa and the Prince of the Pride Lands, hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps. Mufasa’s brother, Scar, plots to betray Mufasa and take over the Pride Lands, forcing Simba into exile, where he meets Timon and Pumbaa. Simba must fight his past and rebuild himself fully to take what is rightfully his.
Did you know this film was already spoiled? Apparently it was released 25 years ago!
Okay, jokes out of the way, it does very well to try to live up to it’s predecessor. The first thing you have to do is separate the two; While they both tell the same story, it is very DRASTIC in how it does so.
And that’s simply due to style.
The animated feature gets to exaggerate life and be larger than it, with colors so wonderful you’ll be pooping out confetti the next morning. Facial features and gestures that labour toward transformative, provided a memorable watch for all.
NOW THROW THAT OUT THE WINDOW.
While reflecting on The Lion King (2019), I found myself pondering if this will become a brilliant case for saving the world, or at least the animals.
Yes, we’re very lucky to have Sir David Attenborough, but honestly I don’t know if the world is “getting it”, and maybe that’s what The Lion King will do;
Help people “get it”.
So realistically realised, it’s incredibly strange, but satisfying, to see the animals of the Pride Lands “exist”.
There’s big kittens running around, colorful birbs, slimy bugs and Timon and Pumbaa hilariously scurrying everywhere because Timon is literally a meerkat and it’s just great.
Creating a sort of weird dissonance at first, once it settles in this film is beat-for-beat its former. But real. It means the animals have to emote more with their eyes, cause their jaws sure as heck aren’t going to dislocate like the cartoon.
In many ways though, because it has this sense of realness to it, the way the lions interact in that feline way, makes it so much more harder on you; And you’re damned right THAT SCENE got me again (along with the “REMEMBER…” scene, which is new).
The new cast fit into their roles perfectly, with Donald Glover and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter leading the film as Simba and Nala. Chiwetel Ejiofor charmingly steps into the role of Scar, bringing a heavily disgruntled lion boi, plotting his revenge as told through song (apparently that song wasn’t supposed to be in this?).
Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen support as the excellent pairing of Timon and Pumbaa, and just thank you to whoever cast them because they take on the roles made famous by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella splendidly (also, hearing the famous Rogen laugh through Pumbaa is DELIGHTFUL).
And James Earl freakin’ Jones somehow reprises his role as Mufasa with ease, helping you relive your most traumatic childhood memories again because the cadence of that mans is a DREAM.
Pharrell Williams steps in to produce some of the hits from Tim Rice, Elton John and Hans Zimmer, because the one thing this film needed was more musical genius, and you better believe Queen B is storming for an Oscar with an original number (along with a new Sir Elton banger!).
Overall, it’s not that this film surpasses the original or attempts to; I think it suitably lives up to it, but is also its parallel. It tells the same story, but in different ways and like I said, it’s kind of incredible to have the opportunity to see it retold in such a manner.
Plus, if it succeeds, we might just see the return of that classic Timon & Pumbaa spin-off and definitely not the weird Direct-To-Video sequels.
I actually hate the numbers/stars etc. for reviews, cause they set an unnecessary expectation.
The Lion King (2019) probably won't fly with some. It'll also probably fly high with others. And there's some who'll just be weirded out by how real it is.
As for me, it lived up to my expectations. Hearing the mans Earl Jones reprise his role as Mufasa was just the best, and Eichner and Rogen's Timon and Pumbaa was everything I needed from the pair.
Honestly, I could watch that again.