In 1994, Disney released one of the greatest animated movies of all time – The Lion King. I absolutely fell in love with this movie as a kid. As an animal lover from an early age, I was engrossed in the story of Simba and how lions could rule over the Pridelands. I used to make my sister re-enact The Lion King with me as a kid. Yes I was that obsessed!
When I first heard that Disney were planning to release a re-make of the movie in 2019 and that Jon Favreau was to be the Director, I literally couldn’t contain my excitement. He did such an amazing job with bringing The Jungle Book to life in 2016 and I couldn’t wait to see how he would take on The Lion King. As a kid, I always imagined what it would be like if The Lion King was real, if there was a real Pride Rock complete with a mandrill that presented all the new cubs to the other wild animals! This movie would come close to making that little dream a reality.
In the unlikely case that you have no idea what I’m talking about, The Lion King is a story about a young cub and his journey to being king of Pride Rock, ruler of the Pridelands. Influenced by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Simba is the successor of his father Mufasa. Simba’s jealous Uncle Scar will stop at nothing to take the throne for himself. He murders Mufasa and manipulates Simba into thinking that it was his fault, causing Simba to run away, leaving Scar to take the throne. The story follows Simba as he starts a new life with his friends Timon and Pumbaa whilst the lions back at Pride Rock suffer under the rein of Scar who is accompanied by a pack of hyenas.
Technology really has come on leaps and bounds since the 1994 film and is truly reflected in the 2019 re-make. The incredible visual effects along with the magnificent cast really bring the animals to life. Every frame is stunning, from the way the lions fur ripples as they move to the classic sunrise we see in the opening credits. To me, the animals looked that realistic that I need to go away and research if they did actually use some footage of real animals! I’m no tech expert but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.
I thought this film was casted perfectly as well and this added to the brilliance of the visual effects. A standout character for me was Nala voiced by the wonderful Beyonce Knowles-Carter. She doesn’t have much of a role in the original film which always saddened me as a kid as I always wanted to play the beautiful princess of the Pridelands! In the 2019 version, Favreau gives a little more substance to her role. For example, there’s an extra scene that you don’t see in the original where Nala makes the brave decision to escape from Pride Rock. Her ferociousness and determination to save the pride really shines through and I love how they’ve added a bit more power to her character. Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) were also excellent. They bring the same humour and cheekiness to the characters as the original did, adding in little extra bits that had the cinema crying with laughter.
With any Disney re-make, the Director always needs to be careful that they don’t stray too much away from the original storyline. With The Lion King, it’s such a loved movie by so many and it would have caused great upset if they tried to change it too much. Luckily, Favreau kept to the exact same storyline as the original, with many of the same lines actually being kept word-for-word. I loved that as the film felt like it was really doing the old one justice. They made additions rather than changes to add to the story. For example, there’s a little insight into how Scar is actually quite jealous over the relationship between Mufasa and Sarabi. He makes a couple of comments throughout the film on how Sarabi should have chosen him rather than Mufasa which doesn’t really come across in the original movie.
Of course, the songs of The Lion King are legendary. I can barely hold my dog without resisting the urge to lift him up to the sun and break out into a rendition of The Circle of Life! Like the script, Favreau kept all the same songs in the movie that we know and love. They added some little extras that I adored. For example, in ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’, Simba and Nala recruit the help of all the baby wild animals to distract Zazu which I thought was such a cute touch! With Hakuna Matata, Timon famously censors Pumbaa from saying the word ‘farted’ but in the 2019 version, he lets him carry on which I thought was hilarious and a nice nod to the original.
Overall, I was not disappointed with this movie. It’s really paid homage to the original film and highlighted just how far cinematography has advanced. It’s been criticised slightly for the lack of emotion in the characters faces but tell me, have you ever seen a lion cry?! Personally, I think if you’re a fan of the original, you already know in your heart how emotional this film is. You don’t need a teary lion’s eye to tell you that.
Have you seen The Lion King yet? Tell me what you think in the comments below!