In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight … well, perhaps, but it’s clear that the bean counters over at Disney didn’t lose much sleep in dreaming up a new cash cow, via a remake of one of its greatest hits.
So it is that we have a The Lion King (Cert PG, 118 mins), very much to be confused with the animated 1994 film of the same name, given that it’s essentially exactly the same film.
As for the plot – well, who doesn’t know The Lion King’s story, and songs?
You’re probably already humming Hakuna Matata right now as you contemplate whether or not to go and see what The Mouse House crew have done with your favourite film about a deposed prince returning from exile to right the wrongs of a kingdom and reclaim his rightful crown.
So, rather than talk about the film’s plot (Simba… stampede… Scar… Pride Rock… yadda yadda yadda…), let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of the film.
It’s the Lion King that you’d expect to get, as Disney has followed its brief of delivering a faithful remake very carefully, making some minor changes and edits along the way.
These revisions work well for the most part, tidying up some parts of the plot that didn’t quite work in the original, redefining some of the character roles (for example, giving Simba’s girlfriend, Nala (voiced by Beyoncé) a greater role), adding a smattering of new scenes, but overall simply presenting The Lion King as a hyper-realistic film.
Ultimately, that proves both the film’s greatest strength and weakness.
The animation and design is superb, of course, with visuals to wow and an undeniable sense of majesty throughout, with some peerless visuals.
And yet – ah, and yet, there’s something a little flat here. The animals look too realistic, staying a little too faithful to what a real lion and so on would look like.
This robs the characters of the very expressive anthropomorphism found in the original 2D, hand-painted characters, thus making it harder to engage with these beautiful but somewhat vacant creatures.
Still, Hakuna Matata, and all that. You should be prepared for a great looking film that masterfully presents the circle of life to a new audience, stumbles a little along the way, but ultimately delivers a fairly solid remake.