Posted Jul 15 2019

The Lion King - This Supposedly Live Action Movie Rocks

Dir; Jon Favreau

Starring Donald Glover, Beyonce, Seth Rogen, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, Billy Eichner, Alfre Woodard, Chance The Rapper

So, in the grand (re)cycling of all out childhoods that is the Disney live action remaking behemoth – welcome to the first one that is by no means “live action.” This remake of the animated Lion King is in itself a totally animated movie – though Jon Favreau (showing up for a q & a after tonight’s screening) claims there is one “live” shot in it – but he’s not letting on which one.

That said, as “animated” movies go, it may well be one that completely rewrites the rulebook of anything you’ve ever seen. Employing some combo of game tech and VR (no, us neither) with traditional filmmaking sensibilities, Favreau has crafted a photo-realistic piece that redefines one, or possibly two, genres of filmmaking. And in breath-taking style.

The tale remains the same – something caught somewhere between Shakespeare and Uncle Walt – but the delivery is beautiful. And Favreau, wise old filmmaker that he is rapidly becoming, knows how the visuals (once established) must take second place to the performances. Glover’s Simba, unfortunately, is the weak link in the chain (no Matthew Broderick, obvs), but the rest of the cast prove themselves in spades, with Ejiofor especially unpleasant as Scar, and the brilliant Rogen and Eichner providing a double act for the ages as Timon and Pumbaa. Beyonce also delivers, both vocally as Nala and with a great new song.

In terms of the music, once again, The Lion King points out just how more powerful Hans Zimmer’s majestic score is than Elton’s middling songs. But it’s a film that is hard to find fault with.

On many levels something old, on many levels something brand new and, more importantly, for something so technically reliant, a film that Favreau constantly finds freshness and invention in. The Circle Of Life will (as last time round) win you over. But the rest is really worth sticking around for.

A triumph – yes, a familiar one – but a triumph nonetheless.

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