The king has returned and this time, he has moved from the animated world to the live-action one. Yes, we are talking about The Lion King which has returned to the cinemas for the first time since 1994, celebrating its 25-years in style.
Directed by Jon Favreau, the same person behind Jungle Book’s live-action version, this retelling of a Disney folklore will entertain young, old and the very old alike.
The story still revolves around Simba (Donald Glover) whose uncle (Chiwetel Ejiofor) tricks him into believing that he was responsible for his dad’s murder. He runs away from the Pride Lands only to return later to reclaim his throne and save his home.
Although most of us know how Simba was brought up away from home, one must mention the contribution of Timon (Billy Eichner), Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) and Simba’s mother Sarabi (Alfre Woodard) who never lost hope. It was great to hear the voice of James Earl Jones as King Mufasa because no actor can replace the legendary actor, even a quarter century after the film’s release!
There are two kinds of fans of The Lion King; those who loved the original and those who have no idea about it. The ones who belonging to the former category need time to digest the new voice-overs, others will be happy watching the superstars of the day — including Beyoncé Knowles-Carter — lending their voices to these iconic characters.
No doubt there were more expressions in the animated version than in the live-action one, because there is a limit for visual effects in the latter. Even then, the CGI impresses all because of its life-like effects and true-to-the-original story.
The songs Circle of Life and Hakuna Matata are still inspiring, while I Just Can’t Wait To Be King and others disappoint. They seemed to have been conceptualised and choreographed without any thought process and made the original look even better, that too after 25 years!
Yes, some scenes still had the same effect in the live-action version, such as the fight sequence where Mufasa saves Simba from the Hyenas, the one where Mufasa dies and the one where Simba makes his return from the ‘dead’. The new version might not be as good as Jungle Book, but that’s because of an all-animal cast, with fewer expressions than the original and a weaker soundtrack. However, one shouldn’t miss this version for the love of Simba, Timon, Pumbaa and other characters, who have been part and parcel of our lives for over two decades.
Published in Dawn, Young World, July 27th, 2019