Long live the king. The highly anticipated live-action remake of the 1994 Disney classic, is finally here, and it is amazing. It was everything this self-confessed Lion King fan could have hoped for. Big spectacle, authentic and honourable.
Let me start by saying… Do not listen to the bad reviews by critics who have lost the little boy/girl inside of them. This is a fantastic version of the film and if it was bad, as Lion King’s biggest fan, I would be the first to tell you if it was ruined. We live in a time where, since all these remakes are taking place, we say to ourselves, I hope they don’t change this, and I really hope they don’t mess around with that. Yet, when a movie is almost identical to the original, but just made with life-like animals, we’re complaining that it didn’t stand out enough and that it was nothing different. Might as well have stayed home, put on Stan and watch the Disney original. Settle down haters and stick with your drama filled Meryl Streep starring films and leave the decision of whether a Disney remake was good, to the Disney fans! (I love Meryl Streep and drama filled movies, also, just FYI.)
Okay. Now that I got that out of my system…
Most of the movie is untouched. But the parts that are different, are welcome replacements from the original bits. One bit in particular is the change-over of Timon’s (Billy Eichner) hula dance in drag. Disney/animated movie magic is forgiving in this setting, so that clearly wouldn’t have worked here. But, with the familiar intro to the Beauty and the Beast’s hit, Be Our Guest coming from Timon, as Pumbaa (Seth Rogan) lays as live bait, it was a takeover I was so pleased with. I wanted the drag and hula, but this, I’ll take. It was unexpected, so that’s what made is so much better and super hilarious.
The fight between Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Simba (Donald Glover) is the high spectacle I hoped it would be. It looked fantastic and definitely one you want to watch on the big screen. A lot complained about the fact that the animals lacked any emotions in their facial features, and I do agree. Had Jon Favreau chosen a different kind of animation, rather than making the characters and landscape look so real, we probably could have had more expression. Despite everyone else having an issue with it, I honestly, can say, I didn’t care so much. An act such as this fight scene stayed authentic with plenty of anger coming from the two lions.
A fear of mine from the very beginning when this whole thing was announced, was the presence of Beyoncé. Sure, she probably only accepted the pay check if she had a featured song, but many believed she took over the film. She didn’t. Her song Spirit is played at a perfect time as Simba runs across the desert, back to Pride Rock. It had nothing to do with her or Nala, and it was strictly just the chorus. The only tiny issue I had was with her runs and over powering of Can You Feel the Love Tonight. Glover is seemingly just a background singer. As for it being a Beyoncé exhibition; I can safely say, she did her lines and went home. It wasn’t the Beyoncé show.
Glover was a perfect choice to reprise the role made famous by the voice of Matthew Broderick. However, I can’t help but think that Timon and Pumbaa steal the show. They’re running banter, quick and witty come backs and jokes are precisely perfect. Rogan and Eichner are perfect choices here, too. As for the substitutions of Banzai and Ed for Azizi (Eric Andre) and Kamari (Keegan-Michael Key), it didn’t have the biggest impact, but the two new characters shared a running joke which was funny when presented.
Scar and Mufasa’s (James Earl Jones) past is hinted to a bit more in this one, revealing information about the relationship between the brothers, and hinting toward a past with Sarabi (Alfre Woodard). This makes it feel like it is a bit more for adults.
This version has really emphasised the message of “everybody is somebody. Even a nobody,” words uttered by the always wise, Rafiki (John Kani). It also brings us a new line by Mufasa about the pride lands, stating that no one owns them but “it’s our job to protect them.” The message of unity and togetherness is strong in this film and, is more important now than ever.
I can’t stress this enough but will stress it again. If this film was remotely terrible, I would be the first to tell you! Don’t miss it while it’s in the cinema. It’s incredible and so very special.