Lion King Movie Review: A Visual Treat That Lacks Emotion

Pallavi Manoj , 19 Jul 2019
Mufasa and Simba in Lion King
Mufasa and Simba in Lion King

I don’t know if it’s me or Disney remaking their famous classics into live-action, there is something supremely different when you watch Disney movies as an adult. Reason, logic, too many other movies with the same plot? Take your pick. The original Lion King was released 25 years ago, but when you see it, you feel for the characters. It may have been animated, but it had heart. You feel Simba‘s pain, grief, and guilt.

How I can best explain the 2019 version of The Lion King is by comparing it to how Bollywood rehashes yesteryears’ songs. You will ultimately catch on to it because it obviously has better beats and the sound quality is phenomenal. The story remains the same.

King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi rule the Pride Lands of Africa. They are blessed with a child who they name Simba. But, Mufasa‘s brother Scar dreams of taking over the throne and hence plots to kill Mufasa and Simba. And, driven away from his own home, Simba has to learn life all on his own.

The Lion King is visually stunning. From a drop of water to every living creature shown in the movie looks so realistic that you may end up wondering if they trained actual animals to do it. But this has come at a cost. This kind of reveals the simple and cliched plot of the movie. A king who has to step down from privilege to stay among the commoners to learn the way of life who then comes back to defeat his evil uncle. Earlier when I said we felt for the characters in the 1994 classic, it’s because as cartoons their faces showed more emotion than their latest CGIed counterparts. Simba‘s transformation is supposed to be inspirational and heroic, but unfortunately, that doesn’t come through in this version. It all feels too hurried, to be honest.

Sure, there are amazing moments in the film. The moments shared between Simba and Nala are still quite endearing. The real winners even in this version of The Lion King are Timon and Pumbaa. You will end up falling in love with them all over again thanks to Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan who voiced the characters. The parts with Timon and Pumbaa are the ones that you don’t want to miss. I would just watch the parts with Timon and Pumbaa all over again. Shoutout to JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright-Joseph who voiced little Simba and Nala. They’ve nailed it. We can’t forget the adult Simba and Nala, of course. Donald Glover puts up a noteworthy attempt in voicing the to-be-king and Queen Bey aka Beyonce slays with her voice as usual. John Oliver is super entertaining as Zazu as well. But, what it boasts with its A-list cast, it lacks in capturing the audience. Because there is nothing to look forward to other than how scenic the movie looks if you’ve already seen the original version. But I will continue to emphasise that the saving grace of the movie is the live-action animation. I can only imagine the painstaking hours it took create Pride Rock and all of its animal residents. Hats off to that. I just wish, along with the brilliance in visuals, director Jon Favreau had focused on giving us an updated version in terms of the story.

To watch the trailer of The Lion King, click here.

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