All that the light touches, is gold: Rashid Irani reviews The Lion King
This is no Dumbo or Aladdin. Where recent live-action remakes of Disney movies have disappointed, this effort wows.
Twenty-five years after the blockbuster success of the original animated Lion King film, director Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book; Iron Man) crafts an absolutely stunning computer-generated re-imagining.
Immersive photorealistic 3D effects bring the African savannah to life. The menagerie of anthropomorphic animals leaps, speaks and bounds in ways that are a technological marvel. The digital do-over is a spectacle to behold just in itself. A large part of the credit for this goes to the remarkable cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Passion of the Christ; The Black Stallion).
The story, with its shades of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, may be familiar. But the retelling of the drama of betrayal, exile and the responsibilities of kingship is still captivating enough to encompass a wide range of audiences, age and attitude no bar.
The stellar voice cast includes Donald Glover as the young future monarch Simba and nonagenarian legend James Earl Jones, reprising his role of King Mufasa. Plenty of wry humour is provided by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen in the roles of sidekick meerkat and warthog respectively.
Among other highlights are the background music score by Hans Zimmer and the classic songs reinterpreted by such pop superstars as Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Overall, while the plot offers nothing new (honestly, how could it), this re-envisioning of The Lion King is a wondrous treat that merits comparison with the golden age of screen animation.