Santa Fe New Mexican
KID’S TAKE ON MOVIES
‘The Lion King’
By Elle Cohen KIDS FIRST! film critic, age 10
The live-action adaption of The Lion King is bound to be a Disney classic. This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically.The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live-action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film’s setting. The entire film looks so realistic that it’s almost like a nature documentary.
The well-known storyline hasn’t changed much: Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is the head of his pride and the king of “all that the light touches” in the African Serengeti. His son, Simba, (the younger played by JD McCrary and mature played by Donald Glover) is brave but mischievous. Simba’s Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is bitter and angry that Simba is the heir to his brother’s throne.
In order to get Mufasa and Simba out of the way, Scar manipulates the hyenas into joining forces. He then arranges an “accident” to kill Mufasa and take over the kingdom. Scar blames Simba for the death, and Simba runs away — but it’s Mufasa’s love and wisdom that brings Simba back to assume the throne.
The intense and serious aspects, as well as the comedic scenes, come together to create a beautiful balance. Jones reprises his role as Mufasa, bringing the comforting and strong tone we expect from the leader of the pride. His touching relationship with his son is the centerpiece of this film.
The comedy duo of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa is a highlight of the movie. Their playful banter brings a sharp wit to some of the most intense scenes in the film.
The real star of the show is the incredible CGI animation that brings these animals to life. Their expressions and movements are so realistic and animal-like, but the personification of these seemingly wild animals seems so natural. Cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel of The Right Stuff and Jon Favreau, director of The Jungle Book, make sure the entire movie was visually stunning.
The songs from the original movie feature heavily, and while they are performed and produced in a more pop-oriented way, the score is more sweeping and orchestral. Classics like “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” are performed by pop stars Beyoncé and Glover, and produced by Pharrel Williams. Hans Zimmer provides a dramatic score that works with the feeling of the new film.
There are some violent and intense scenes, so I wouldn’t recommend it for very young viewers. But kids from ages 6 to 18 would enjoy it, as well as adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because Disney has created a brand-new, can’t-miss classic.