Superheroes aside, Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King is (to date) the best film of the year. It is pleasing to know that a film not populated with product placement can still entertain us – even if we already know the story. Director Jon Favreau no doubt used the original 1994 animated movie as the storyboard because the majority of this movie is a scene-for-scene remake.
The cinematography is gorgeous, filmed on location in Africa, with computer-generated characters so lifelike that the technicals would have been impressive if we had not seen the same special effects applied in Jungle Book (2016), also directed by Favreau. So flawless that to even seek out defects in the computer animation is futile.
The story remains the same: A lion cub prince is tricked by a treacherous uncle into thinking he caused the death of his father, the king of the jungle, and flees into exile in despair. Running away from his problems and trying to forget the disastrous day proves fruitless when his past returns and in adulthood discovers the responsibilities of assuming the throne. Along the way, he discovers love, makes new friends and seeks retribution.
The movie does contain a number of upgrades from Timon’s personality to the ever-familiar songs performed by today’s recording artists. A humorous tip-of-the-hat nod to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is so obvious that you cannot miss it. The big question, however, is whether a generation that grew up with the immortal story of the Circle of Life will bring their children along and whether a new generation discovers the wonder and beauty that is The Lion King. If you never saw the original movie, I recommend you check this new rendition out before it leaves the theater.