The Jewish Chronicle

A Lion King that’s almost live, thanks to CGI technology



ISNEY’S “LIVE-ACTION” reboot of their much loved 1994 animation The Lion King is a genuinely thrilling, fun and truly spectacula­r undertakin­g which could well be one of the studio’s best remakes yet.

Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book), the film stars the voices of global superstar Beyoncé Knowles as Nala, and actor/writer/musician Donald Glover (Atlanta, Solo: A Star Wars Story) as Simba.

We are back in Pride Rock, in the African savannah where a future king is born. Simba (voiced as a cub by J D McCrary) idolises his father King Mufasa (voiced once again by James Earl Jones), and will do anything to make him proud. However, not everyone in the kingdom is happy with the new arrival, especially Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) — Mufasa’s evil brother.

After the murder of his father, Simba flees Pride Rock believing he was responsibl­e for the tragedy. Years later, Simba (voiced by Glover) slowly learns the true meaning of responsibi­lity when his old childhood friend Nala (Knowles) begs him to return home and help rid the kingdom of their evil, murderous king.

Putting aside any feelings we might have about Disney’s current obsession with remakes, there’s no denying that Favreau and screenwrit­er Jeff Nathanson have given us an expertly crafted feature which is an almost shot-by-shot reproducti­on of the original.

While the “live-action” descriptio­n doesn’t quite fully apply to this heavily computeris­ed, photo-realist production, it has to be said that the images of the all-talking all-singing animals are so life-like, that one can’t help but admire the wizardry and expertise of the CGI team behind them.

Thematical­ly, in its new incarnatio­n The Lion King carries with it a strong ecological message. Borrowing, one imagines, heavily from David Attenborou­gh’s popular Blue Planet programmes, Favreau injects a huge dose of environmen­tal awareness into a production which is further elevated by a fantastic score courtesy of Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Inception, Dunkirk).

Knowles and Glover give disarming and impressive performanc­es. Elsewhere, British actor and comedian John Oliver puts in a hilarious turn as Zazu, while Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Long Shot) and Billy Eichner (Friends from College) bring some much needed comic relief as the irresistib­le double-act Pumbaa and Timon.

 ?? PHOTO: © 2019 DISNEY ENTERPRISE­S ?? Simba the cub
PHOTO: © 2019 DISNEY ENTERPRISE­S Simba the cub

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