Movie Review: ‘The Lion King’
Directed by Jon Favreau, the screenplay is pretty much a beat-for-beat, scene-for-scene take on the original. Structurally, the key difference here is the runtime. At a brisk 89 minutes, the 1994 classic zooms by, not an ounce of fat weighing it down. Here, it’s as if every scene is just slightly padded, with the final product clocking in at exactly two hours. Slight bloat aside, fans will be happy to see all of their favorite songs and the original’s treasured dialogue present and well taken care of. This remake has nothing but love for the work that came before it, and it shows.
With almost no new scenes and little narrative reworking, the big standout here is the film’s brand-new look. A photo-realistic CGI reboot, The Lion King often feels like National Geographic come to life. The hyper-realistic look is both gorgeous and jarring. A visual safari wonderland, there’s no doubt that Disney has achieved something groundbreaking here. But with this new facelift comes some unfortunate side effects. The hand-drawn images of the original allowed a certain creative freedom that gave a heart-wrenching expressiveness to the face of every character. What should come as a surprise to no one, real-life jungle animals lack the nuance of human facial expressions. Simply put: lions don't emote. As such, it takes a bit of an emotional hit. Luckily, the absolutely stellar cast makes up for what is lost.
As always, expectations are key. This is in no way a replacement for the 1994 classic. That’s not a battle this remake wants – or is capable – of getting into. What this latest version does so well, however, is reinvigorate your love of the original. Not through hate -- but as a beautiful and often exhilarating reminder of how deeply this story touched all of our hearts.
The Lion King is now playing in South Florida movie theaters. For showtimes, click here.