Disney continues down the ‘live-action’ remake path with perhaps their most iconic and thus lofty effort to date with an update of 1994’s The Lion King.
The 2019 version of the film sees director John Favreau employ photorealistic CGI to recreate the 1994 version almost scene for scene, beat for beat.
As such it is near impossible for this updated version to break out of its predecessor’s shadow and avoid direct comparisons.
Narratively the film has only minor alterations to many of the characters. Once again two characters, in particular, steal the show, Timon (Billy Eichner) & Pumbaa (Seth Rogan) bring the majority of modern embellishments to the script and are hilarious throughout.
Visually this updated take on the Shakespearean story is stunning, often lulling the viewer into thinking they’re watching a nature documentary rather than a CGI animated film. However, by sticking so tightly to the photorealistic approach there are two main issues. Firstly the film loses its emotional gravitas since the characters faces are unable to be as emotive as the original. Secondly, it can become difficult to distinguish between specific characters unless they are speaking.
As an introduction to the classic story, this version of The Lion King will certainly enthral younger viewers. For those with strong nostalgic ties to the original, however, this version is likely to leave you unsatisfied, particularly if you were hoping for a reimagining of the classic tale.