Whether you’re a critic, a fan or general moviegoer, the thought of yet another film being rebooted is enough to make us all cringe. There are the odd occasions when a reboot of a film or series is overwhelmingly requested and the very few occasions when it’s almost a given. For most rebooted films, however, it’s simply a matter of riding the current wave of regurgitated films as a method to cash in on its previous popularity.
Since the success of Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book live-action reboot, Disney has been out to recapture all those magical moments from their animated features in live-action glory. When the team announced the adaptation of The Lion King, many questioned whether it was necessary and, more importantly, whether it would capture the same level of greatness as the original.
I too had my doubts. Having seen one or two stills from The Lion King before the first trailer released, my feelings were mixed and like many others wondered how these realistic looking animals would capture the same emotional interaction at the animated film did 25 years ago.
When the lights went out at this week’s premiere event at Nu Metro’s Xtreme Experience cinema, I felt a sense of anxiety. There was so much pressure on this movie to do well. Could Disney potentially be ruining a childhood classic?
The Lion King starts off almost verbatim to the animated feature, with the improvements in cinema screens and sound making it far more epic when the signature song, “The Circle of Life”, rings out.
As the film progressed, a theme emerged that frustrated me to some extent. For the most part, perhaps 95% of the film, the dialogue remained the same as the original. I can imagine the fear from the producers and director that any major changes to the film would be met with negativity, which resulted in the near-identical dialogue.
But, as was shown by John Kani, with his interpretation of Rafiki, as well as Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen’s take on Timon and Pumba, there is plenty of room for exploration in the film, especially when it comes to actual dialogue. We had a few new jokes to laugh at as a result.
At times, too, you could feel Chiwetel Ejiofor’s presence as Scar come through strongly. However, when it came to the lead characters of Nala and Simba (played by Beyoncé and Donald Glover), I was left wanting most of the time. Their child (or cubs in this case) counterparts were far more engaging and relatable as a whole. I didn’t feel any connection between the two lead roles and their dialogue didn’t differ enough to allow me to feel any sense of suspense with them. Had it not been for the final action scenes, in which Simba confronts Scar in an epic showdown, I would not have felt anything for the duo.
Speaking of the final action scene, most of the action was quite a spectacle to behold. The cinematography, along with the beautiful African backdrop, is stunning. At the same time, however, the CGI, in parts, is disappointing. The animals look realistic enough for the most part, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Yes, their lips and eyes move somewhat, but they barely reveal any emotion.
When Mufasa dies, for instance, I was expecting some teary-eyed emotional evocation, as you have when a puppy stares back at you knowing they did something wrong when scolded. What we’re left with, though, is a blank expression. In fact, most of the heartfelt moments in the film rely on the actors’ voices and not their facial expressions.
That said, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the majority of The Lion King, with the positives far outweighing the negatives. While many have been slating the film, to a large degree the lack of character from the animals themselves, there’s more than enough substance to make it a worthwhile experience.
Truthfully, a lot of the heightened sense of spectacle came as a result of the newly added Dolby Atmos sound equipment added to Nu Metro’s Xtreme Experience cinemas. I would recommend seeing The Lion King there. I know I’m excited to see it a second time.
The Lion King
The Lion King offers spectacular visuals, but fans of the original will most probably wish the film kept the same emotional beats. Unfortunately, that just isnt possible with a film with realistic animals.