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The magical roar of “The Lion King” is lost to realism

Live action "The Lion King"

The king of childhood animal movies returns with a new look.

In Disney’s wave of live action remakes of their classic movies, “The Lion King” was given a new look and new voices to bring the movie back to a new generation and a sense of nostalgia to those who grew up with it. While the revamping of the movie illustrates how far animation technology has come, some of the magic from the original is lost.

The style of the cinematography and the CGI of the animals would best be described as a nature documentary meeting the plot of the classic Disney movie. The scenery in each scene is stunning and brings the setting of the original movie to striking realism that breathes life into the story as a whole. The animals were also amazingly realistic from wind bristled fur to small little natural gestures the real world animals would make. When the camera came in for a close-up of the animals, it was almost impossible to tell that they were not real animals.

With that dedication to putting realism first, some of the charm of the animated animals were lost. Timon and Pumbaa lost some of the cartoonish humor that acted as the comedic relief in the original movie. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have their moments, but a fan of the original would miss that aspect of their characters. With realism also comes resemblance. In the real world there aren’t a lot of ways to tell lions apart from each other with a glance. This was only an issue in fight scenes when the camera would go for a wide shot. But don’t worry, Mufasa's death is just as traumatic in near-real-life as it was in the cartoon feature.

With each remake comes a new cast, and for the most part the casting was spot on. John Oliver as Zazu, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Beyonce as Nala were the perfect choice to bring those iconic characters back to life. While their voice resembled the original voice actors in a way, they also brought their own characteristic style to the roles that would immortalize them as the characters for new viewers. The only issue classic fans might have would be with Donald Glover and his role as Simba. There were moments where it was obvious that he was voicing the main role of the character but on certain iconic lines, his voice just didn’t elicit the kind of response it should from the audience.

A running theme with the remakes of these classic Disney films is to have a longer running time to add on to the story in someway, adding a new plot element or diving deeper into character development. With an added 30 minutes, “The Lion King” did very little with its extra time. A new scene involving Nala leaving to look for help after Scar took the throne is added, but it felt most of the time was spent making the movie resemble a nature documentary with random shots of the CGI nature.

“The Lion King” remake does its job in bringing the beloved classic to new audiences and even a bit of nostalgia for those who grew up with the original. It is hard to compare this new version to the one so many are familiar with, but without that comparison the movie could stand with the other remakes. When compared though, the demanding pursue of realism causes the movie to lose some of the magic the original had.

entertainment.ed@ocolly.com