Disney doesn’t seem to be slowing down with their moves to flip their beloved animated films to live-action films for a new generation of moviegoers. In some ways, this change has been welcomed with open arms by moviegoers that were around to see the original animated films but the live-actions films like Maleficent, Cinderella & Aladdin have left most moviegoers out of touch with the new spins on these films. Disney’s The Lion King is the next to hit the big screen following Aladdin & is one of Disney’s “high-end” films, because of its unforgettable songs, characters & heartwarming story. However, did Jon Favreau taint the overall feel of the original film or did he recapture the same refreshing essence that made the 1994 the hit it is today?
The Lion King follows Simba, a lion cub who is trying to learn the steps needed to one day become the king of the pride lands. Along the way, destiny is altered which will leave him on the run from his past mistakes & a jealous uncle, who wants the crown for himself. The live-action film basically follows the same formula as the 1994 animated film but with some new takes on the story. The film stars Donald Glover, JD McCrary, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Shahadi Wright Joseph & James Earl Jones.
When thinking about The Lion King, one would think that there’s no way the writers or director could mess things up. I mean, the 1994 film to some is perfection across the board & really didn’t need a live-action film since the animated film has aged well. But yeah, there were some minor & big problems in the film that could’ve & should’ve been avoided. The film definitely had a strong presence based of the realistic animals & environments but lacked a soul. What made the animated film a cherished hit amongst the many animated Disney films was that it felt vibrant & alive. Even during its slowest points, the original still had life & that’s what this film didn’t have. The characters at times seemed like a shell of their animated counterparts & the once energetic praiseworthy songs felt dry & less fun. JD McCrary & Shahdi Wright Joseph were the standouts in this film & it’s their energy that kept the first half of the film alive. Donald Glover & Beyoncé Knowles-Carter were soulless & lacked the energy Matthew Broderick & Moira Kelly brought in the original. Chiwetel Ejiofor also took the fearful Scar Jeremy Irons brought to life in the animated film & turned him into a lackluster. Nothing about Scar stood out or made him a memorable villain outside of him killing Mufasa.
Another big miss was the final act of the film which felt rush & less tense that the original. The last thing that didn’t land well with me was Billy Eichner’s take on Timon. Eichner is a gay actor & that isn’t my issue, but my issue lies in the fact that Eichner changed Timon from this straight forward, wise-cracking meerkat to Pumba’s gay best friend. Again, my problem isn’t that the voice actor is gay but it’s that the character was of Timon was changed to suit the voice actor. Despite its flaws, the film did have some shining moments that followed McCrary & Joseph’s Simba & Nala. James Earl Jones, as usual, did another fantastic job.
Jon Favreau did a solid job with bringing the environments & look of the characters to life but didn’t bring much out of the adult characters. It felt as if the screenplay of Jeff Nathanson was lazily written & lacked substance. This may have been due to the fact that they didn’t have to alter much from the original film but this just proves that the film did not need a live-action push on the big screen.
Is The Lion King a complete drag? No. It shines during the first half but falls short due to what seems like dry acting during the second half. If you haven’t seen The Lion King, which I doubt there’s a person who hasn’t, you should give this a watch. However, if you’ve seen the 1994 film, the live-action film has the body of the original but lacks the life of the original.
The Lion King
- JD McCrary & Shahdi Wright Joseph were perfect as yoiung Simba & Nala
- The environments & character designs were beautiful
- The change to Timon was uneccesary
- The second half of the film felt rushed
- Most of the adult characters lacked the energetic presence the voice actors from the 1994 film brought to the table