Director, Jon Favreau has done it again with the recreation of one of Disney’s most iconic films to date, The Lion King.
The star-studded cast including, Donald Glover, Alfre Woodard, Seth Rogen, Beyoncé, the iconic James Earl Jones who reprises his role as Mufasa and several other top actors has increased the buzz and almost solidifies a box office hit. However, many people, including myself wonder if Hollywood has run out of ideas as it appears that there has been an abundance of classic films being remade, especially Disney films. While other Disney adaptations such as The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and Aladdin have received great praise, others such as Dumbo and Beauty and the Beast were highly criticized for dropping the ball. So, what can excited fans ready for feelings of nostalgia expect from the all new live action film and will it meet our very high expectations from our childhood memories? Favreau states, “I think it’s nice to look at technology as an invitation for things to progress and not always something that’s going to change the way everything came before it. It’s a balance between innovation and tradition.”
What is certain and undeniable is the amount of craftmanship, dedication, creativity and true emotion that when into the creation of this film. As Favreau states, “I can’t take the credit, it was truly a team effort.” After three years in the making, everything seen in the film was completely built from scratch with a team of animators. Favreau explains, with game engine and virtual reality technology they were essentially coding for a multi-player, virtual reality film making game that each cast member was able to experience. JD McCrary who is the voice of young Simba enthusiastically explained his excitement while playing the game, “It’s like watching your favorite movie but you’re in it! You could fly, it was like I was Zazu! It was so so cool!” So, can we look forward to a Lion King virtual reality game in the near future? Unfortunately, fans might have to wait on that, according to Favreau who jokingly stated, “the game is a very specific virtual reality game that only works for making one movie.” McCrary’s elation about being a part of the film was almost as grand as Donald Glover’s son’s joy when he realized his dad was going to be in “that movie with Beyoncé.”
Queen Bey, who plays the voice of Nala has been one of the highlights of the 2019 remake, so does she steal the show? Whether you’re a part of the beehive or not, it is undoubtedly clear that Timon and Pumba [Billy Eichner & Seth Rogen] stole the show with their effortless riffs that provide just the right amount of comedic relief in the most unexpected situations. Unlike other castmates, Eichner and Rogen were able to record in the studio together which enabled them to form a strong chemistry and go off on improvised tangents that ended up making the final cut of the film. “I was shocked by how much of the riffing actually ended up in the movie and I think it works and I think it feels very unique compared to other movies in this genre,” Eichner explains.
Casting is the foundation of great cinematic story telling and this particular group of actors each bring a new, special quality to the characters we have loved for the past 25 years. Combined with the carefully orchestrated sounds from Hans Zimmer, the original composer, I believe Disney and Lion King fans are in for a treat! As our favorite warthog and meerkat would say, “Hakuna Matata,” there are no worries or doubts that you’ll love the new, live action Lion King!
The Lion King in theaters July 19.