Now that Disney has started remaking its animation hits as live action movies, The Lion King was among the top of the list, and the question being asked each time is: why?
Actually, The Lion King is not live action (like Aladdin), it is a more advanced computer animation, which is so photo-realistic that the sheer beauty of many frames is breathtaking. Jon Favreau’s new film is an almost scene-by-scene-remake of the 1994 original, with some new voices, and some of the old ones.
The story — a kiddie version of Hamlet — about power, loyalty, friendship and the triumph of good over evil, is familiar. What keeps the new viewer (who has not seen the earlier film) enthralled is the look of the film, and of course, the iconic soundtrack. The film opens with the exuberant Zulu chant Nants ingonyama bagithi baba that precedes the popular Circle of Life.
When Simba is born to King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Sarabi (Alfre Woodard), Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the evil brother of the king, plots to get rid of the cute cub and take over Pride Lands. He allies with the enemy hyenas, and murders Mufasa. Simba escapes being killed and grows up as a carefree bug-eating lion (Donald Glover), with his Hakuna Matata pals, the warthog Pumbaa (Seth Rogan) and meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner). John Oliver voices the chatty bird Zazu, who is the comic relief in the first half, as the protector of Simba.
Simba, who believes he was the cause of his father’s death, is nudged to the right path by the grown up Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter). The two singers lend warmth and feeling to the romantic number, Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
Scar has wrecked the kingdom, and it is time for Simba to return to reclaim his throne, save the land and its inhabitants. It’s a simple story made watchable by the wonders of technology employed to create perfect animals with human expressions. A good amount of hard work has been put into the Indian language versions, and like Hollywood, stars have done the voices, and that is a big enhancement to the enjoyment of the film. The new movie does not mess with the original too much, and pays a worthy tribute to the much-loved blockbuster.