“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. These words rang in my head as I walked out of the cinema after watching "The Lion King" remake.
From the outset let me state: I think it was unnecessary to have a remake of such a classic because more often than not remakes fall flat. The remake of Disney’s traditional animated 1994 version is directed and produced by Jon Favreau, written by Jeff Nathanson.
The film stars the voices of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Florence Kasumba and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, as well as James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa.
I walked into the cinema open minded hoping to be blown away by what has been marketed as a remake like no other. Within the first few scenes, I was let down. For some reason, the writers opted to move away from the original script in certain scenes which left me feeling robbed.
I have watched the original more than 20 times I know the tone in which Mufasa scolds Simba after he takes Nala to the elephant graveyard and almost gets them killed. I know the way Scar scares Zazu and how Zazu exuberantly delivers the morning report to Mufasa.
There was no exuberance or passion from Zazu, no intelligence from Scar and in very little comedy from the famous hyenas.
Many scenes were also cut short. One, in particular, was when Rafiki finds out that Simba is still alive. Kani (who plays Rafiki) is an outstanding performer with a great voice however, he says very little. Remember the famous “Asante sana squash banana” he sings to taunt Simba? Well, that scene is cut short in this version so no singing from Rafiki.
There are good aspects, however. The movie’s production designer, James Chinlund, who was in charge of all of the photorealistic computer-animated images, deserves an award. From the facial expressions on young Simba’s face to the detailed textures of the rocks on the famous Pride Rock, Chinlund and his team make you feel as if you are watching real animals in their natural habitat. Billy Eichner as Timon and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa were certainly a highlight of the production and while her singing abilities can’t be denied, Beyoncé’s portrayal of Nala came across as inauthentic and extremely bland.
The movie is said to have cost Disney more than $170 million (R2 billion). The production budget alone could rebuild towns in Mozambique that were destroyed by Cyclone Idai.
All in all, the circle of life in this remake seemed lifeless