The live-action "Lion King" remake might not have the same magical appeal as the original but it’s still an enjoyable film.
“The Lion King” follows the lion prince Simba (JD McCrary/Donald Glover) as he goes on a journey of self-discovery after the murder of his father Mufasa (James Earl Jones) at the hands of his uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Since the first trailer dropped, this live-action remake has faced backlash from millennials - FYI I’m a millennial too - outraged that Disney was ruining their childhood with this photorealistic adaptation. Now, while this remake doesn’t have the same magic as the original, it still evokes the same Disney feels and is a good movie.
The standout performances come from Zazu (voiced by John Oliver), Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen). These three characters carry the entire film from the moment they appear on the screen.
Veteran actor Jones yet again brings the much-needed gravitas to Mufasa. There is truly no one else that could have stepped in the roll.
Most of the songs are still amazing and the accompanying cinematography really helps elevate them with most of the scenes being a shot for shot recreation from the original. Beyoncé’s vocal in "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Spirit" is out of this world and within the context of the film makes perfect sense.
The one song that falls flat is Be Prepared, which has undergone a slight rearrangement in lyrics and song structure. I understand that director Jon Favreau most likely wanted to create a darker tone to the sequence, however, by making it less theatrical it ends up not having the same impact.
Visually the movie is a feast for the eyes, and seeing the majestic imagery of the African landscape is something quite magical. Favreau really took everything that he learned from The Jungle Book and improved upon it in this film. The only downside to making the film photorealistic is that the animals can’t emote in scenes which leaves viewers emotionally disconnected. Rafiki’s (John Kani) role is also downgraded from the original with many of his Xhosa lines almost inaudible.
Most of the script is taken verbatim from the original film, but there are some changes here and there. There’s also one scene with Timon, Pumbaa and the hyenas which acts a Disney crossover as they reference another Disney classic in a very smart way.
Overall, I enjoyed the film and do not understand the vitriolic reaction "The Lion King" is receiving. Does this remake have the same magic as the original? No. But it takes nothing away from the animation classic and is a good adaptation. Also, it doesn’t erase the original film so your childhood is still intact.