Film Review: Copy Cat Live Action ‘The Lion King’ Seems Unnecessary

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CHICAGO – The latest tendency of Walt Disney Pictures to make live action remakes of their classic cartoons should have stopped at “Jungle Book” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The last three, “Dumbo,” “Aladdin” and now “The Lion King” subtract from their source cartoons, and the King is downright weird. Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

But there is a caveat … it is “The Lion King” and it is beloved. The characters and the songs are still there, and those who are being introduced to the story and songs will get the lion’s share of hopefulness. But the cartoon is much better and more suited to this fable of the Circle of Life. This remake is distracting. By making the animals look like real life, it gave me an underlying element of uneasiness, as if stealing from nature is the crime of this version. The animals can’t be manipulated too much, and so have a dead-faced lack of external emotions. This Africa doesn’t exist as well, as much as the film wanted to “Disneynature” it. The result is a unsettling two hour plus comparative literature assignment, with this film being the inferior version.

The story is pretty much the same. Simba (voice of JD McClary young, Donald Glover older) is born as a prince to Lion King Mufasa (James Earl Jones, reprising from the cartoon). He has a jealous uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who thinks he should be king, so he sets up a situation that kills Mufasa and exiles Simba.

In his exile he meets Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) and Timon (Billy Eichner), who teach him the philosophy of “Hakuna Matata” (no worries) and the three form a triumvirate to survive. But Simba’s childhood friend Nala (Beyoncé) seeks him out to save their kingdom, which is slowly being destroyed by Scar’s rule. In the Circle of Life, will Simba meet the challenge to reclaim the kingdom?

“The Lion King” opens everywhere on July 19th, in IMAX, RPX and regular screening. Featuring the voices of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Chitwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, John Oliver, Beyoncé and James Earl Jones. Screenplay by Jeff Nathanson. Directed by Jon Favreau. Rated “PG

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Lion King”

King Mufasa Roars Again in Live Action ‘The Lion King’
Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Lion King”

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