Hey you? Do you like the 1994 animated classic The Lion King? Would you like to see it with photorealistic animals and (some) new voice actors? Well the boy do I have the film for you.
If you want to know whether Jon Favreau’s remake of The Lion King is any good then there’s no point in asking me, this film is virtually the same as the original version, with only the most minor of tweaks. So of course it’s good, much like Beauty and the Beast they were working from one of the greatest films of all time. And much like Beauty and the Beast the real question here has to be is there any artistic merit or point to this remake?
Well first and foremost the effects here are incredible. Let’s be honest this is an animated film, and photorealistic animation is spectacular. There are several sequences which could be ripped straight out of a David Attenborough nature documentary. The only small aspects that could really be worked on was the mouths looked a little weird when the animals are talking, and because they’re so realistic it is hard for the faces to be truly expressive.
Aside from that the voice cast is all solid. We know James Earl Jones makes a good Mufasa, he did in 94 after all. Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter are all very solid but don’t really come too close to the original. Unsurprisingly Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen steal the show as Timon and Pumbaa, because those characters have always been the standouts in the film.
As for the changes, the very few there are, most are just little bits of quickly forgotten filler, or done in service of the film’s more realistic tone. The most notable change is to the song Be Prepared, which frankly is far worse than the originals. They really butcher that song. Thankfully the other four are still great, and the performances are superb, with Glover, Carter-Knowles, and Eichner all showing off their musical talents. The other most noticeable change is a very funny joke referencing a classic moment from Beauty and the Beast, something which definitely got the biggest laugh from the audience.
But does photorealistic animation and a very solid Beauty and the Beast joke make this new version of The Lion King worthwhile? Honestly no. The film is technically very good. In particular the animators have done a stunning job and should be commended, but there is no reason to ever watch this over the 1994 version.