Earlier this year (before I started this blogging thing) the Disney classic, The Lion King got a live action remake that was so real you felt like you could walk in and visit Pride Rock yourself. This Monday it was released to purchase for home viewing and this has given me the opportunity to re watch it and digest my thoughts. So let’s dive in you bunch of Baboons!
SPOILERS! THERE ARE AS MANY SPOILERS IN THIS AS THERE ARE WILDEBEEST IN THAT HEARTBREAKING GAUGE! BUT HONESTLY IF YOU HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN THE ORIGINAL LION KING THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GO AWAY AND COME BACK WHEN YOUR’E DONE…
YOU BACK? GOOD, LETS GO!
What do I think the story was?
So as always I’m going to start my explaining what I thought the story was. This one is quite well known so I’ll keep it short.
When king Mufasa and queen Sarabi have a cub named Simba, the kings brother, Scar, get’s really jealous as he is no longer the heir to the thrown. To change this the scabby lion crafts an elaborate plan that results in both the king and his son’s death, or at least so he believes. whilst Scar assumes the thrown and invites hyenas into the pride lands, baby Simba is adopted by a Warthog named Pumba and a Meerkat named Timon. They teach him that life is meaningless and not to worry about anything you’ve done, it cant be changed so you shouldn’t care. But when Simba is all grown up and somehow living off insects but still maintaining a good muscle mass his childhood friend Nala finds him and tells him what has become of his home land. The four of them head back to pride rock to save the day and everything turns out peachy.
Compared to the original.
There is no denying that this film is a truly beautiful production. The original lion king is a picture that will always remain close to my heart, it was a big part of me growing up and I get goose bumps every time I watch that opening sequence. When first viewing the remake in the cinema the opening sequence brought me to tears, my childhood had been updated in the most beautiful and caring way. I genuinely really enjoyed this film however there was one glaring issue, that in the weeks following its release would be reported on everywhere: it was too real! the incredible work that had gone into making the film look as realistic and beautiful as it is was its biggest downfall, this is because the animals were not able to convey emotion. The 1994 film was a very emotional ride. When Mufasa meets his demise and baby Simba desperately tries to wake his dad, the audiences hearts break. This was not only achieved by the great voice acting given but the loose animation that allowed for big expressions and the look of a distraught cub. However the 2019 counterpart could not achieve this. Mufasa’s death is met with a very tearful voice but an emotionless, deadpan face. Simba’s lack of visual reaction makes the whole scene feel a bit strange as what is going on his face does not correlate with what is coming out of his mouth. Situations like this plague the film.
I wanted to get the bad out of the way first because everybody has heard about it by now, instead what I am excited to talk about are all the bits that surround that one flaw.
There are a few additional bits of plot in the 2019 Lion King that deepen the story in a nice way. For example in one of the first scenes we learn that Scar had fought Mufasa before and lost, this is perhaps where he got his signature scar. It is also hinted at and later confirmed that Scar once had a thing for Sarabi but his brother was chosen over him.
Both these things make it a bit more clear as to why he dislikes his brother so much. Speaking of Scar, his allies, the Hyenas are much scarier in this film than the original and there is a very clear hierarchy in place amongst them.
Much like in the original, the Timon and Puma are stand out characters for me. The improvisational dialogue between Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan plays really well and make the characters really quite believable. This version of Timon is a lot more camp than the original but I feel that really works. Hakuna Matata is sung brilliantly by these two and the wonderful Donald Glover. My favourite thing about this song is that we see cub Simba grow into big lion Simba and at the end of the song Pumba breaks the fourth wall a little and says “you’ve grown four hundred pounds since we started” but clearly only the audience would really know that right? Timon and Pumbas take on the circle of life is quite interesting too, they believe it’s more like a line and nothing you do has any impact on the rest of the world so you should just be selfish. What good role models they are!
Of all the songs in the film, this duo deliver my favourite two. One is the surprise inclusion of Be Our Guest from Beauty And The Beast. That really took me by surprise and made me chuckle. The second would be the acapella rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight which the jungle folk join in with until they are all rudely interrupted by Nala!
All this said there a couple other bits in this flick that are questionable. For example much like in the original, once the herbivores leave the pride lands because the Hyenas have over hunted, all the plant life starts to die. This makes no sense to me. Something else (that i find quite frankly amusing) is that Rafikki doesn’t have his staff throughout the whole film until the final battle and he greets it with “hello old friend”. does this mean he has this stick hidden away just for fights? why does Rafikki have a beating stick? And why does he look at it so fondly that he calls it friend? Honestly I won’t look at him the same way again. And the last bit is when Simba and Nalas cub is presented by Rafikki at Pride Rock it appears as though Pumba has a child? When did this happen?
When it comes to special effects this film definitely got the lions share, it is visually incredible. And though it may be let down by the emotionless faces I feel the narrative, voice acting and music is enough to still make a good film. For me I am giving it a score of Watch Ten More Times.
Thank you for reading,
See ya later!
p.s Everyone needs to watch the behind the scenes stuff for this. They literally built a 100 miles square set in virtual reality and then filmed it in there like a video game. WHAT!? How they made this thing is crazy.