One of the newer trends in Hollywood is making live action adaptations for prior animated films, with a couple of studios doing most of them. I personally am a little conflicted on this because maybe something so timeless should just be left alone and most people already know the story. Disney is the biggest studio doing this, and twenty-five years after its animated version, “The Lion King” gets a live-action (kind of) treatment
Directed by Jon Favreau (who also did “The Jungle Book” for the studio), this version has the voice talents of Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Chiwetel Ejofor as Scar, John Oliver as Zazu, James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa, John Kani as Rafiki, D.J. McCrary as the young Simba, Shahadi Wright Joseph as the young Nala, Eric Andre as Azizi, and Keegan-Michael Key as Kamari. This is still the story of a young lion named Simba who is to be the future leader of his pride, which his father Mufasa leads. When Mufasa passes a way from the evil plot conscribed by his jealous brother Scar, Simba leaves and Scar takes over to benefit him and those he feels are loyal to him. From there, Simba must learn how to be the man he was destined to be in order to take his rightful place.
Overall, this film is beautiful, but can it be considered a “live-action remake”? It was produced in a studio using CGI, but it still showed Africa realistically. However, my biggest complaint is the mouthing and lip movements of the lions because the barely moved as they spoke, and there were a few scenes where you hear the voices while the lions just moved around, reminding me of a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” episode. The voice casting is also good, with the only downside being McCrary as the young Simba, whose tone just did not work for me. My shout-out goes to Rogen; plain and simple, he was made for that role, and I really loved the roles of Key and Andre as the hyenas, whose back and forth I found was very amusing and enjoyable.
Of course, there are things added to this film that the original did not have considering it is thirty minutes longer than the original, but that did not bother me too much. There are a few little things that bothered me, like during the storm scene where I really could not see Mufasa in the clouds, which takes away from its impact. Favreau’s work with “The Jungle Book” remake was better for me, but I will still recommend it as a Saturday afternoon showing in the theaters.