The Lion King film review: remake has roar
IT is a huge responsibility to take on the remake of a Disney classic and no one knows this more than director and producer Jon Favreau.
He had success with the live-action film of The Jungle Book in 2016 but set his sights even higher with beloved movie The Lion King.
Story is everything in The Lion King (taking inspiration from Shakespeare’s Hamlet) and it was vital he kept it completely intact while using today’s technology in his contemporary approach.
Favreau has achieved that and more with this tale of betrayal, tragedy and royal destiny using photorealistic computer-generated imagery.
Viewers are whisked away to the African savannah the instant the sun rises and the first bars of The Circle of Life fill the movie theatre.
All feels right with the world, with James Earl Jones remaining as the voice of Mufasa from the 1994 animation, while Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is ever menacing in his jealous and brutal quest to be King of Pride Rock.
Young Simba (J.D. McCrary) and Young Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph who played the role in the Broadway production) are adorable fluff balls of youthful fun.
Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, proves an ideal choice for traumatised Adult Simba and Beyonce Knowles-Carter reveals she can be just as fierce as adult lioness Nala, as her alter ego Sasha Fierce when she performs on stage.
Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) deliver comedy gold, with the wise-cracking and singing CGI meerkat and warthog getting laugh-out-loud reactions throughout the film including their “signature song” Hakuna Matata.
Brace yourself for the hilarity of their inspired choice of song during the distraction scene.
Zazu (John Oliver) and hyenas Shenzi (Florence Kasumba), Kamari (Keegan-Michael Key) and Azizi (Eric Andre) also add much-needed light to the dramatic darkness.
Just like the song lyric, it’s the circle of life and The Lion King moves us all.
Full of emotion and a lot of laughs, this film definitely has roar.
The Lion King (PG)
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Donald Glover, Beyonce, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen
In cinemas July 17
Reviewed by Tanya MacNaughton