Review: The Lion King
(PG) Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Seth Rogen, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
The King has returned and thankfully the original magic that kept The Lion King in our minds for 25 years survives this CG-animated re-imaging—so have fun crying and laughing through each high definition filtered scene.
Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book) directs this stunning visual remake which boasts a cast of star-studded voice actors and music score from Hans Zimmer (who also worked on the original film) and Elton John.
For those unfamiliar with the story The Lion King follows the young lion prince Simba who flees his home after his father’s murder only to discover what it means to be king and protect his pride.
When the trailers first came out, the CG-animation didn’t look so great but it turns out it was just my old phone screen that was doing this film an injustice. On the big screen however, the circle of life, the father and son bond, the tale of redemption and identity takes on new vibrancy.
James Earl Jones reprises his role as Simba’s father, Mufasa and his booming voice is the thread that holds this film together.
And what is The Lion King without the dynamic meerkat and warthog duo Timon and Pumbaa? I shudder to think. Billy Eichner (Park and Recreation) and Seth Rogen’s (The Long Shot) spin on Timon and Pumbaa is sure to be a fan favourite thanks to their fresh jokes, comedic chemistry and of course the famed Seth Rogen laugh.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Scar and John Oliver (The Daily Show) as Zazu were also standouts.
Donald Glover (Atlanta) does well to hold his own as Simba but his singing is no match for the talents of young Simba voiced by JD McCary (Little), who deserved more airtime. Despite the powerhouse vocals of Beyoncé (Dream Girls) as Nala, the original song ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ falls flat but just like that Beyoncé redeems herself with the new song Spirit. As for the rest of the original soundtrack, Hakuna Matta you’ll be happily bopping along in no time.
Re-watching how this story unfolds, one of the themes that resonated more this time round was identity. Simba in his trauma fled his home and in the process lost and then found himself. In a time when we are bombarded daily by targeted ads and social media screaming about what we should buy and value, identity and knowing who you are can feel more fraught than ever. People are seeking meaning and authenticity and the spiritual homeless are on the rise.
So where do you start looking? Sometimes you have to go back to the source and for people of faith that source is God. By reading, listening and praying you can begin to know God and in that faith journey you can begin to see a clearer vision of yourself. Take a look at Jeremiah 29:11, Galatians 2:20 and John 15:15 and see if you can find the true meaning of the circle of life.
The Lion King is in cinemas now.