Director Jon Favreau believed he could use computer animation to breathe more reality into the classic tale of a lion cub who’s born into royalty but loses his kingdom. Favreau took that risk and succeeded in inspiring both new and previous generations of viewers.
The African animals look as if they have been photographed on-location. And, unlike the original 1994 film, all the lions are voiced by actors of African descent. Rafiki, the no-nonsense monkey who is the King’s trusted aide, is embodied by John Kani, a South African actor.
A host of award-winning actors, among them Danny Glover (Simba), Beyoncé (Nala), Seth Rogan (Pumbaa), Billy Eichner (Timon) and Chiwetel Ejio (Scar) join veteran James Earl Jones (Mufasa).
The original musical score and songs from Hanz Zimmer, Tim Rice, and Elton John are sung by a celebrity cast that includes Beyoncé’s beautiful voice. The jokes and puns, along with the inspirational messages, also remain intact. I especially enjoyed listening to the lively banter between Pumbaa and Timon in what I like to call the Hakuna Matata (No Worries) segments of the film.
While Favreau followed the original plot very closely, he did add more violence. Or so it appeared. Some of those scenes were difficult to watch.
An extraordinary film that has been described as “a perfect marriage of art and technology.”