The Lion King – is a CGI  remake really needed?

It is my first time to be invited to watch a movie for media coverage and to publish my personal review about a film.

What better way to critique a movie than to watch one of my all-time favourite childhood movies?

A FUTURE KING IS BORN – In Disney’s all-new “The Lion King,” Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. Featuring JD McCrary and Donald Glover as young Simba and Simba, “The Lion King” roars into U.S. theaters on July 19, 2019. ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Yes. I can’t count how many times I rewinded the VHS just to watch The Lion King.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of John Kani as Rafiki, Alfre Woodard as Sarabi and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Fast forward to 2019 which is twenty-five years since the original Disney animated film came out, we have been introduced to a much more photorealistic version of the film. Having said that, is a CGI  remake of this classic movie really needed?

THE LION KING – Featuring the voice of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

When the film started playing, I can say that I suddenly got the nostalgic hits. The opening sequence is an unforgettable scene that establishes the story. Who can forget how the “Circle of Life” just gave goosebumps to anyone because of its powerful and uplifting music? There were many moments in the film that just made me sing along and even dance in my seat – from Simba singing “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” to joining Timon and Pumbaa teaching the young cub about “Hakuna Matata,” and to just feel the love of when Simba and Nala do their duet with “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” It’s enjoyable to hear these songs again.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

When the film progresses to some conversation with the characters, another nostalgic moment was when I hear James Earl Jones’ voice. I don’t think you can replace anyone who has a distinct acting voice as him. I mean come on, he even voiced Darth Vader. Many of the voice actors who took on their role on these memorable characters actually did a good job. I did not feel like I wished they used the original actors’ voices. It feels just right for me.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of James Earl Jones as Mufasa, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019…© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Now here is the part that kind of bothered me while watching a photorealistic, CGI, live-action remake of a film. Basically, the facial expressions used in the film aimed to mimic the facial expressions and reactions of animals in real life. This means that the human element injected into the characters’ expression of various emotions in the original cartoon film was removed. It was a challenge to actually relate to the characters because you mostly rely on the tone of their voices. I guess this is where I see the problem when you turn a cartoon full of animals into a live action version. The human element was lacking in the film and you are seeing these animals in their natural manner.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala, and John Oliver as Zazu, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The movie is not a reimagined version of the original 1994 movie, so do not expect that any new story will be added or removed. They actually made the frame, storyline, and lines of the characters almost the same as the original movie. Only small details were changed but it did not really matter to me.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voice of John Kani as Rafiki, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

So, going back to my original question, is it really needed? Is it necessary to copy the same story that is already perfect to begin with?

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Florence Kasumba, Eric André and Keegan-Michael Key as the hyenas, and Chiwetal Ejiofor as Scar, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I personally feel that if I wanted the remake to live up to its predecessor, I will add new elements that will suprise the viewers  and make them re-imagine what happened during the original movie. Like how was the relationship of Mufasa and Scar before Simba was born, how did Scar get his scar, what happened to Simba during his teenage years? Maybe they could have corporated what they did in their broadway version? They added some elements that surprised me. That could have been better.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of John Oliver as Zazu, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019…© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

For me the movie itself was a unique visually immersive experience. Technology is always evolving. Who would’ve thought anyone could make animals semi realistic? But again storywise, I have seen it before. If you watched the 1994 version, there is nothing much to be spoiled about with the live action one. The semi realistic animals just lost the emotion and vibrance of its predecessor. Nevertheless, the movie brought back the nostalgia hits. The range of voice actors performed really good. I have to give credits to Timon and Pumbaa because they stole the show with their humorous and lighthearted performance. I cannot believe their jokes are still funny and they were able to make up for the less humanly emotion coming from the other animals.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Donald Glover as Simba, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, and Billy Eichner as Timon, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Overall, I give it a rating of 7 out of 10. It’s not bad, but it was not as impactful as the predecessor. If you want to relive a classic story, it is still a nice movie to watch with your friends and family.

Have you guys watched the remake of The Lion King? Comment down and tell me what you think about the movie. The Lion King will premiere on July 17, 2019 in all major cinemas nationwide.

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