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Long Live the King

FILM REVIEW SACHIN CHATTE

Film: The Lion King

Voices of: Donald Glover, Beyonce, James Earl Jones

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Duration: 1 hr 55 mins

Rating: * * * 1 / 2

Actor director Jon Favreau scored big with his version of The Jungle Book (2016) contributing almost a billion dollars to Disney’s kitty – it was just a matter of time that their old films got a reboot and fortunately, the studios got the right man to direct this version of The Lion King, the original which was released back in 1994.

Interestingly, Julie Taymor who directed the Broadway musical (and also the feature film Across the Universe, which was based on the music by the Beatles) serves as a producer on this film.

The whole film was pretty much made only on computers but there is nothing automated about the storytelling. Favreau knows exactly which buttons to push and when, to evoke responses from the audience – and importantly, he knows his target audience very well. Moreover, when it comes to visuals, this film breaks new ground – this is not exactly live action, it is computer animated but the results are nothing short of stunning.

The story of The Lion King is well known but in case you missed it, it is set in the Pride Lands of Africa which is ruled by the lions and there is harmony among animals. Mufasa (voice of James Earl Jones, who was also a part of the 1994 film) is the king who has earned the respect of his ilk and others as well. His son Simba (Donald Glover) is in line for the throne, but his Mufasa’s younger brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) can’t wait to take over and be crowned king.  This then turns out to be a classic good versus evil story. A murder is hatched, Simba gets isolated but then all is well that ends well.  Peppered with popular songs (The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Hakuna Matata, Can You Feel The Love Tonight) from the original music score by Tim Rice and Elton John, the chances are high that the audience will be humming those songs with the animals on screen. Favreau sticks to the basics – at almost two hours, at times the story does progress slowly but when it picks pace, there are enough rousing moments. The film also talks about bonding and friendship and when there isn’t a lot happening in the terms of the story progression, comic characters like Pumbaa and Timon (a warthog and a meerkat respectively). Beyonce doesn’t have a lot of voice time; she lends her voice as Nala, Simba’s childhood friend.

The top class computer generated imagery ensures that not just the characters but even the natural surroundings look real. All in all, this lion king gives enough roars for your bucks.

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