'The Lion King' (2019)
(PG / 110 mins)
Overview: From Disney Live Action, director Jon Favreau's all-new 'The Lion King' journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born.
Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub's arrival.
Scar, Mufasa's brother-and former heir to the throne-has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba's exile.
With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.
Verdict: Disney continues to underwhelm with yet another uninspired remake of an animated classic, this time revisiting the celebrated 1994 gem, 'The Lion King' in a photorealistic adaptation so single-mindedly focused on creating life-like CGI animals that it forgets to do anything else of merit along the way.
The new film faithfully retells the tale of Simba, a young lion (voiced by JD McCrary) who is the son of Mufasa (James Earl Jones), the King of the Pride Lands.
In a bid to usurp power, Simba’s uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) kills Mufasa, and makes the cub believe that his father’s death was his own fault. Simba flees the kingdom, surviving an attack by Scar’s hyena minions before collapsing. He is rescued by meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner) and warthog Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) whom he befriends.
But his past comes calling again a while later when he is a young adult (Donald Glover), forcing him to remember who he really is and embrace his role as the rightful king of his native land.
The story remains the same, as do many of the familiar scenes and the songs (although some of the iconic moments are curiously missing here), but the new film fails to recapture the original’s timeless charm.
The animals, though incredibly realistic, lack the expressiveness and emotiveness of their traditionally animated counterparts. The storytelling no longer holds the same impact it did the first time around.
The vibrancy and liveliness is gone, replaced by hollow retreading that leaves you yearning for original content instead of this endless string of remakes.
The vocal performances are mostly unmemorable. Glover and Beyonce Knowles-Carter (who is the grown-up voice of Simba’s love interest Nala) – both talented artists – are out of place here. John Oliver (who voices bird Zazu) sounds distractingly like John Oliver.
The only real exception is (surprisingly) the joyous duo of Eichner and Rogen who effortlessly steal the show, with their characters breathing life into an otherwise dull movie.
Also, Jones is (unsurprisingly) impressive as he reprises his part and voices Mufasa majestically.
Ultimately, the new 'Lion King' is very likely to make you wish you were watching the original instead. The film just feels like a soulless rehash of its predecessor and proves that no amount of technical wizardry can trump solid, affecting storytelling.