Movie Review by Cindy Summers
The Lion King
3 palm trees out of 4
The Lion King is the new CGI photorealistic release of the Disney animated classic originally released in 1994. Directed by Jon Favreau, who also did the CGI remake of Disney’s Jungle Book, Written by Jeff Nathanson with Pharrell Williams producing a new soundtrack of the original Elton John/Tim Rice songs. The voices are done by many notable stars: Donald Glover as Simba, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, and Beyoncé Knowles as Nala.
The story takes place in the African savanna, where Mufasa is the Lion King who regally and responsibly rules the pride lands which he will turn over to his young son Simba when Mufasa’s time is done. As a young cub, Simba is taught the ways to rule by his father, and spends is days playing and adventuring with a female cub Nala, the future queen.
All the animals in the pride lands recognize Simba as the future king except Scar, Mufasa’s brother who believe’s he should be king and gathers the hyenas for support in undermining Mufasa’s plan to have Simba lead the pride. As a helpless cub, Simba finds himself exiled by Uncle Scar and matures away from the pride under the care and friendship of a warthog Pumbaa and his pal Timone the meerkat.
Nala decides to leave the pride to find help in saving the pride lands from destruction under Scar’s rule and stumbles upon Simba. Though conflicted with confusion and guilt, Simba makes the decision to return with Nala to discover the truth and assume his role as king.
Seth Rogan’s comedic prowess is perfect in the role of Pumbaa, and a standout in the cast which includes many other notable stars among them John Oliver as Zazu, Keegan-Michael Key as Kamari and Alfre Woodard as Sarabi. I watched the 3D version and often felt immersed in the African jungle with visuals bordering national geographic realism and some scenes seeming so real they may be disturbing for young, sensitive viewers
The filmmakers used motion capture and VR (virtual reality)/AR technologies, an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, with the production team combining VR technology with cameras in order to film the remake in a VR-simulated environment. Even new software had to be developed for the movie to simulate scenes with a shaky-cam look of a handheld camera, a look that tends to be popular in today’s live action filming.
The real life visual effects are extraordinary, though the storyline is identical to the original animated version so there is nothing new in this version for those who know the story, but it’s a wonderful story of family and friendship that is priceless and timeless.
Rated PG 110m