The Lion King Review & Rating
The Lion King Review: Trust Happy Hogan and Watch This film
The Lion King
The Lion King is a memory.
A beautiful memory at that.
Just like the memory of our childhood.
It’s all about the... well! Let’s comeback from ‘down the memory lane syndrome’ and talk about the matter at hands. That is... The Lion King Remake. Or the Live Action remake. Or the photo-realistic treatment of the well-loved classic, the 1994 Lion King. Keeping the big debate of whether these live action remakes are necessary for another day, these are turning out to be highly entertaining fare for the audience and give the 1990s kids a chance to relive the memories is commendable in one way in these stress-high days.
The World of Pride Lands
We go and visit Pride-Rock in the Pride Lands once again with Mufasa just had a newborn as his wife Sarabi gives birth to a son, the heir to the kingdom. Simba he is named and is introduced to the subjects of Mufasa’s Kingship in the most electrifying fashion. With The Circle of Life playing, we’ll be transported to those magical African Lands and all real forests. Of course, realised with the help of CGI.
And then there is the evil uncle (the brother of the current king), the aptly named Scar who wishes to usurp the empire. And we know what happens after that. Mufasa is killed and Simba has to escape to save his life but as the true successor to Mufasa, he makes a return and gets back his rightful Kingship.
Jon Favreau and team
What's so special about this near shot-to-shot remake is the exemplary realism brought out by the visuals team under the expert guidance of Jon Favreau. Surprisingly, the movie is more life like unlike other Disney live action movies including the widely successful Aladdin. With its mythic story of life and death and finding one's life call, The Lion King is one of the best and loved stories told on the silver screen. Any other director would have found it difficult to recreate the magical experience.
One of the biggest difficulties with The Lion King photorealism is expressions. Despite the best efforts of the filmmaker team, the emotions and expressions are difficult to emulate. This is where animated films score extra points. They have the flexibility to orchestrate appropriate expressions in an exaggerated fashion. Still, the scope of the production and the grand visuals created by Jon Favreau makes you forget all these perceived problems.
The writing which is completely based in the original classic. The major beats are covered but Favreau has taken the liberty of adding a few more scenes which are good to average and a couple of more songs which are outright cheap. But the extra runtime gives a depth to the proceedings not that the original film lacked it.
This version of The Lion King is funnier than the original, even while it enhances the story’s dark themes. While the animated film appears like an innocent imagination, this version is like a story told by a seasoned storyteller.
The characterization of Scar suffered a bit in this version. Jeremy Irons’s Scar, emerald-eyed and gloriously black-maned, delivered lines in such a withering, sly tone that he remains one of Disney’s most indelible villains and was worthy of contempt we had all felt for him. But the new Scar has gaunt flanks, a ravaged face and a mangy coat. Ejiofor speaks his lines in a sinister growl (even more than Ralph Fiennes's Voldemort) that is almost too subdued and real for this outsized production.
The music of the film needs special mention. Hans Zimmer who had retired from scoring for superhero films has once again composed for this film. He received an Oscar for the animated film and has every chance to add to it with this film. The much lived songs are already there and the score looks even better with the original looking animals. The movie is full of adventure and is exhilarating at every moment.
Elton John and Tim Rice’s original songs are so buoyant and stirring, they are now as familiar. The addition of Beyonce Knowles helped in getting a tone of contemporariness to the songs. Her magical voice has created a positive effect. Elton John enhanced a few beats for this film. Life's not fair (the opening dialogue of the film mouthed by Scar) is the main theme if the film apart from the pride in living up to the heritage.
But the music which includes the iconic Hakuna Matata is anything but. An inherent optimism flows through every sound of this film. And Hans Zimmer's score is sweeping and grand and adds profoundness to the narration. When Mufasa scrambles up a cliff and Scar pushes him off, Hans Zimmer’s beautiful orchestral music bolsters the impact of the scene.
The voice cast (English, Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil)
The voice cast in the English version which is shown in most places is a bit or miss. Despite her majestic singing, Beyonce as Nala is ordinary and pales in comparison to Shahadi Wright Joseph who voiced young Nala. John Oliver tells deliberately hokey jokes as Zazu the hornbill and talks his songs rather than sing them. This worked partly.
Billy Eichner as Timon, the wisecracking meerkat, and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, the good-hearted but flatulent warthog, are among the film's best voice works apart from the obvious Ronald Glover as Simba and the incomparable James Earl Jones as Mufasa (only person from the animated film to make a return) . Eichner steals the show with his tone of witty cynicism. The famous “Let me simplify this for you. Life is meaningless,” - the famous dialogue Timon tells Simba, laughing at the very idea of “royal dead guys in the sky,” watching over us.
The same cannot be said of the Hindi version where Shah Rukh Khan despite his best efforts. Aryan makes a good impression as Simba. Amitabh Bachchan should have been considered for Mufasa. But Disney had different ideas. In Telugu, Nani did a fabulous job as Simba and Ravi Shankar despite not being as majestic as Earl Jones, did a fine job. He's an asset in Tamil version though.
Siddharth lacked the same punch as Aryan and Nani in Tamil version. Among the Indian actors who voiced Scar, Jagapathi Babu in the Telugu version takes the cake. Rest of the voice cast in Indian dubbed versions did their job well enough.
The visuals are rich in tone and colours. The realism is apparent right from the first frame despite not being not as saturated in colors as it is in the animated original. The cinematography by Caleb Deschanel is panoramic and beautiful. The frames mimicked actual live animation films (with humans portraying humans). That sets The Lion King apart. The production scene is the best we have ever seen in any photorealistic films. Disney is mighty you know?
The Circle of Cinema
The Lion King is a memory. And a happy memory at it. Just go and relive your childhood and enjoy the latest spectacle in the glorious big screens. You won't be disappointed by Simba and his friends. Trust Jon Happy Favreau. He looked after this film as well as Happy Hogan looked after the Stark Empire.
- The Lion King
- Your perception
Pycker Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Reviewed by: GitacharYa
The Lion King Critic Reviews
The Lion King User Reviews
wow exclant movie