Lion King an exercise in visual magnificence

The animated Disney classic The Lion King has endured 25 years and remained a favourite of children and their parents alike.

It’s not only this reviewer’s favourite animated film of all time, but hits my top 10 film list as well. The pure majesty of filmmaking and emotional core the movie exhibits are nothing short of spectacular.

It was with great trepidation and worry that I sat down to watch a remake to a film I deemed perfect in the first place — from the voice cast to the score.

Yet, though it’s more than three-quarters a shot-for-shot live action remake, the visual spectacle of the graphics and special effects, as well as the heart director Jon Favreau brings to it, are more than enough.

Favreau, famous for directing Iron Man, Elf and the well-received live-action remake of The Jungle Book, goes hyper-realistic here, and though he loses some of the eyebrow-raising, hilarious facial expressions that made the original sometimes feel like fantastic musical theatre, he captures the essence of the original.

It’s a beautiful endeavour, and the most visually stunning film to come out in three or four years. The songs — from the mind of Sir Elton John — are still splendid, and musical heavyweight Hans Zimmer is back providing a beautiful score like he did for the original.

Voice actors Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen absolutely steal the show as Timon & Pumbaa. Somehow, they manage to both play tribute to the original and other classic Disney films while making these performances wholly their own.

Other standouts are James Earl Jones’s return as Mufasa, John Oliver as Zazu, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar. Though he’s no Jeremy Irons, the Oscar-calibre actor puts his all into the villainous role.

Disappointments are Donald Glover as Simba and Beyonce as Nala. Although their musical stylings lend greatly to the soundrack parts of the film, their acting prowess just isn’t enough for them to make convincing voice performances.

Though the hyper-realism draws thin on occasion, this is a remake that left this superfan dazzled.

You, your kids and even your parents can go into this accessible picture and come out singing Hakuna Matata. That makes The Lion King a surefire hit.

4/5 Stars

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