The legendary tale of Lion King being given a live-action treatment in itself was a prospect that had me in two minds initially. For one, I didn’t want the absolute classic that stands the test of time to this day being fiddled around with. Despite captivating visuals in the trailers, the dread still loomed that it might turn out to be just another one of those Animal Planet clips. Will the animals look convincing enough? Will their expression correspond to their speech in tandem?
The story begins in a shot-by-shot nod to the 1994 original 2D version announcement scene where the cub is raised over the rising Circle of Life crescendo. There begins the stunning choreography of striped animals and mammalians crisscrossing and genuflecting in recognition of Mufasa’s son, the heir to the throne.
The natural surroundings jive in perfect harmony with the computer-generated animals that are so photorealistic that you forget after a while that you’ve known lions to be any other way and you are transported right into the story. The way their mouths move while talking and bodies gesticulate in perfect synchronisation with the emotions they portrayed is breathtakingly impressive. Right from the way the winds made the light-golden fur oscillate in the natural motion to the way lions gracefully leapt and ambled across the fields, the remake captured the essence of wild cat behaviour in its true spirit.
The triumph of a movie as challenging as this rests in every element of the movie being stitched in a ‘delicate balance’. The CGI techniques, performance capture, the refraction of light and the interactions which need to be infused in just the right amount.
I resolved to deem this film even more immersive and funny than the original classic as it brilliantly spools out the real-life references to deploy the photorealistic imagery; the flawless magic that MPC has mastered over the years, dishing out a spate of live-action remakes of Disney classics over the last number of years.
Mufasa’s brother ruses to topple the regime and take over as he has been nursing a mortal grudge against him all along. The sinister villainy is impeccably depicted in his movements as he plots with the hyenas and manages to kill the king and scare away the little lion into a far-off wilderness where the distraught and broken Simba is nursed back to health and happiness (Hakuna Matata- style) by the comic-duo of Timon and Pumba who truly emerge as the stars of the movie. Simba is made to realise the spirit of his father that lives within him as he reunites with his childhood sweetheart and returns in his grown-up full-fledged adolescent look, reminiscent of his father; to claim his throne and defeat the mangled-looking and scheming uncle Scar, the real kingslayer! Through and through, a Disney classic masterfully stylised to live-action cinematic perfection.