The Lion King (2019)

As expected, Disney successfully pulled off the remake of this animated classic.  The master class is coming out for two major reasons.  The first of the two reasons is to make The Lion King an avenue for Disney to show off its excellent visual and technological gimmicks, serving us picture-perfect animals with 100% conviction.  Secondly, Disney wanted to improve on Director Jon Favreau’s exploits in 2016’s The Jungle Book by serving us a voice-cast of impeccable quality.  However, these are not enough to dethrone The Jungle Book as the all-time best.

Calling this a “live-action” would not entirely be  inaccurate.  Let me preface this by saying I truly did love the film.  The visual effects coming from the ever-brilliant London offices of the MPC wizards.   Disney gave us a near-life experience and realistic effects in every category that most of us looked forward to hearing.  Even the slightest detail was captured transforming us to what we swear should be the site of an actual African safari.  As you would expect, James Earl Jones did a perfect job in voicing Mufasa, even though Disney did all they could to make this obscure.  Simba, the son of Mufasa, remains cute and clumsy, as we saw at the beginning.

Despite the beautiful craft and design, this photo-realism comes with a major issue; the faces of the animals lack emotional expression, and the mouths are not crafted for words. The expression is clearly lacking, although the realism complements for this. For instance, you can see the jarring clearly once the cats speak or whenever they start singing. You will naturally want to compare how well they fare with the heroics of their 2D predecessors, and when you do, you will agree that the older characters did well with the animation.

However, it is worth saying that Chiwetel Ejiofor and John Oliver performed brilliantly enough to cover the emotional gap with their talented voice casting. The former successfully represented Scar with a bitter but seductive voice, while the latter conjured up a storm just like the grumpy Zazu. However, things dramatically improved when Pumba and Timon (voice by Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner) arrived on the scene bringing new life to the atmosphere.

Obviously, Favreau is the source of the inspiration, forcing them to bring their A-game to the Shakespearean drama of Pride Rock, especially the humor and energy.  We also saw a commendable transformation of a stately big-cat stalk to a full stampede, although this lasted until Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter), Simba’s old friend, shows up to refrain him and protect the pride from the evil clutches of Uncle Scar.

The beautiful setting and impressions were carefully executed.  Oh! Let’s not forget the great new songs that added more time and made the movie more Oscar-worthy.  However, these same songs, whenever they come on, seem to just be there to delay the return of the lost prince by a few minutes more.

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