When I heard that Disney was planning on remaking the Lion King, my initial reaction was pretty much, ‘why mess with perfection?’ The Lion King is my favourite Disney film of all time and the thought that someone felt that a remake was warranted made me a little mad. So that chip was already on my shoulder, this was personal.
Casting news, for the most part, did not trigger me excessively, I'm a fan of Donald Glover, so was happy for him to take the part I would have loved to play. The fact that they were bringing James Earl Jones back to play Mufasa, to me, seemed like the most obvious thing to do. Tell me, who else's voice has the gravitas that Mr Jones’ does? The only casting choice that I was a little sceptical of, was Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar. No doubt he’s a remarkable actor, but could his voice provide the cunning needed for such a villain? I was going to find out.
The plot of the film remains unchanged, and since it was originally inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the plot didn’t need to change. There were, however, subtle and nuanced differences, most of which just added positively to the film. The voice acting of all the characters was excellent, I thought Donald Glover did an excellent job as Adult Simba. Timon and Pumbaa were standout characters, as everyone knew they would be. I also have to give a shoutout to John Oliver who provided the voice of Zazu, and did the role justice, given that in the original Zazu was played by the inimitable Rowan Atkinson.
So the music. As my siblings pointed out today, I get way too excited about movie soundtracks, listen to them early and find them rubbish, only to then go and see the film and love all the tracks. It’s not hypocrisy, I'm just an idiot. The music was really good, and Hans Zimmer kept most of the tracks from the original and simply adapted them for this version. But let’s move on to what was easily the greatest thing about this film. The CGI. The entire film, of course, was CGI, but it was so realistic that at times I felt like I was watching a documentary about the Serengeti. My only criticism, and it is a very minor criticism was that I felt in certain parts of the film, the script was a little bit lacking and they could’ve built on the scenes a little more.
Overall, I don’t think it was as good a remake as Aladdin was, however, I was more than content with what Jon Favreau and Disney churned up. The original will always be the best, but perhaps I have enough space in my heart to let this one in too. Now Disney, I know that these live-action movies are all the buzz these days, but any chance you can give me A Bug’s Life 2? Thanks. Much appreciated.
Voice Acting: ★★★½