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The Lion King Roars into Theaters

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Panashe Ndou
July 19, 2019

The “Disney Renaissance”, is a period of time during which the Walt Disney animation studios produced some of their best films. Effectively kicking off in 1989, the Disney Renaissance reached its peak in 1994 when a little film (initially regarded as a B-movie) known as The Lion King was released.


Most people have that one Disney movies that sticks with them throughout their life, that one movie they can watch back to back, anytime, anywhere. For me, that movie is The Lion King. Every aspect of the film--from the animation, to the story, to the music--is simply incredible. It told a grandly tragicomic, operatic story (loosely based off Hamlet), set in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The movie became instantly iconic after it came out, characters like Timon & Pumbaa, moments like the opening sequence, Mufasa’s death, and Simba seeing his father’s ghost (as well as literally every single song on the soundtrack), becoming staples of millions of childhoods, including my own.


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JD McCrary voices the young Simba in 'The Lion King' (2019)



After the success of 2016’s live action adaptation of The Jungle Book (and subsequent benchmark for groundbreaking VFX), Disney entrusted director Jon Favreau to incorporate the same photo-realistic visual effects to bring The Lion King to life. Disney really pulled out all the stops with this remake of their (second) most successful animated film, bringing back Hans Zimmer and Elton John for revamps of the original score and songs, and bringing back the irreplaceable James Earl Jones to voice Mufasa again.


They’ve assembled a stellar cast--Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Kani, Billy Eincher, Seth Rogen and Keegan Micheal-Key, just to name a few. Judging by how good The Jungle Book was, and given the spectacular cast, this new adaptation seems like a guaranteed slam dunk – however as a die hard fan of the original film, I’m sure that even with the new incredible VFX, it’s still amazingly difficult to improve on near perfection.


What to Expect

Initial reactions to the new opening sequence reportedly bringing people to tears, pretty much confirming that visually, this movie is going to be stunning. With legendary composer Hans Zimmer and talented singers such as Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) and Beyoncé involved, there is no question that the music and new renditions of original songs are going to be phenomenal, which they undoubtedly will be.


As we know, the story is already great; now with the thrilling landscape of Africa, animals brought to life through incredible effects, the grandiose scale of this timeless tale will be visualized with incredible magnitude.


Concerns

Unlike the live-action remakes of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, here aren’t too many significant plot holes or rectifications that might apply to The Lion King (that haven’t already been addressed in deleted scenes or the Broadway show). So aside from some new dialogue, songs, and scenes, it’s most likely going to be a shot-for-shot remake.


The songs are unquestionably going to be amazing, however with photo-realistic approach taken, the fantastical elements in the “Hakuna Matata”, “Just Can’t Wait to be King” and “Be Prepared” musical sequences may not be as colorful and vibrant as they were in the original film. While unbelievably beautiful to look at, the new film doesn’t have the same color and texture as the original 2d animated classic, but with the added 3D effects, the landscapes should add some (literal) new depth to the story.


Even with these minor concerns I am still, without a doubt, (along with all others who think the original is an absolute masterpiece), widely excited to see and relive the magic of this prodigious, classic story once again. What do you think? Will this remake outshine the original?


Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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