Disney’s The Lion King is the latest in what seems to be a mission to remake the Disney animated classics into ‘live-action’ movies. Some of these remakes have been impressive(Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Junge Book), while others have left me shaking my head(Dumbo). To say I was skeptical of The Lion King would be an understatement. This was a powerful movie in 1994. My son was 3 at the time – we ate/breathed/slept anything to do with this movie. We even named our cats Simba and Shenzi. This remake had big shoes to fill, and I had very little confidence that Donald Glover and Beyonce could do just that. Boy, was I wrong.
Was this remake necessary? I think so. A grown-up version of a child’s favorite allows the story to live on. The Lion King is not just a scene-for-scene remake. There are a few enhancements that are exciting and really fit well into the story. The music is beautiful. I always promise no spoilers, so I cannot say much more on that subject. But let’s chat about what I can say…
There are a few minor changes in The Lion King that you should know before seeing this movie. While this is a comfortable play-by-play copy of the 1994 film, the tone is not the same. The 1994 version was whimsical. This remake is a bit more serious, appealing to the older kid crowd. There are still laughs to be had, but a more serious tone is present in the movie. The visuals in this movie are stunning. You really feel as if you are watching a Disneynature movie. The details are impeccable, the colors are vivid. James Earl Jones returns as Mufasa, as he should be. There is a sense of comfort knowing that he is a part of this movie.
Shenzi is still the leader of the hyenas, but her sidekicks are not Ed and Banzai. Kamari and Azizi are her two minions, and they are not as bumbling as they were in the original. The original hyenas were comical, and as Scar put it, “idiots.” These guys still have issues and a dry sense of humor and aloofness, but are scary! Shenzi has stepped up her role as a supporting villain – and it is powerful. Because the hyenas are a bit more serious in this movie, one of my favorite lines, “I’m surrounded by idiots” did not make it.
Scar, as a villain, does not disappoint. But another minor and somewhat disappointing change was Scar’s ‘Be Prepared.’ All I can say is, be prepared.
Safe for little kids?
While The Lion King is devoid of colorful language and inappropriateness, this is a live-action, realistic looking, intense story about animals in the wild. Mufasa’s death in HD is a bit more to take in than in a colorful, animated form. The hyenas are scarier this time – and there are quite a few of them. The stampede scene and the battle for Pride Rock are loud and intense. This movie is rated PG for sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements.
The Lion King is in theaters on July 18! Tickets are on sale now – be sure not to miss this incredible remake!