The Reel Review
This astoundingly realistic-looking remake of Disney’s 1994 classic animated film, based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, features a slew of big names – Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogan and Chiwetel Ejiofor – helmed by director Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book).
The film’s CGI animation is absolutely phenomenal. It looks so realistic – reminiscent of stunning documentaries like Our Planet – that you often forget you are watching a totally animated film. (This is one to see in 3D if possible.) And composer Hans Zimmer, who won an Oscar for the 1994 original, does a terrific job giving the film an equally epic soundtrack (and a couple of new songs) to match such amazing visual effects. The story itself plays it a bit more safe, and is virtually identical to the original.
Where the fancy new animation works best is in the comedy. Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner, who wisely recorded their lines together as the warthog and meerkat besties, hysterically steal almost every scene in which they appear. Where this technologically superior remake falls short of the original, however, is in delivering an emotional wallop, for two reasons. First, the animation is too lifelike to deliver the more human looking (i.e. relatable) facial expressions. Second, some of the actors’ voices lack the oomph expected for their characters. Beyoncé, however, does sound amazing singing Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” And while the film isn’t quite as endearing as the original, it is still an impressive crowd pleaser.
• It would be incorrect to call this remake a live-action film. There are no living things, human or otherwise, in it.
• 88-year-old James Earl Jones, the oldest member of the cast, reprises his role of Mufasa from 1994’s original version of The Lion King.
• The Lion King, along with Toy Story 4 and Frozen II, will be the first films released on the new Disney+ streaming service when it debuts on November 12, 2019.