These days, Disney films have a circle of life. After years of being heralded as a classic, they get transformed into a live action remake, and now it is the turn of a true icon: The Lion King.
The Lion King is, arguably, their most ambitious project yet, as it is the first remake that doesn’t involve any human characters. As a result, it is technically more of a photorealistic computer animation in a similar way to the 2016 remake of The Jungle Book, rather than live action. Nonetheless, it follows a similar route to its predecessors, taking the original much-loved plot and giving it shinier visuals and a celebrity cast. It tells the story of Simba, the young lion cub who will one day succeed his father, Mufasa, to the throne. However, this is a story inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and so it is not plain sailing: Mufasa’s younger brother, Scar, wants the throne for himself, and so we have a tale of loyalty, friendship and loss.
One of the most intriguing aspect of this remake is the cast, which is ridiculously star-studded. The original movie has received some criticism over the years for having a predominantly white cast despite being supposedly set in Kenya, but this time around The Lion King can be celebrated for its diversity, having a majority cast of actors of colour. James Earl Jones returns, once again taking on the role of Mufasa as he did so brilliantly in the original – but he is the only actor reprising their role. Simba will be played by none other than Donald Glover, who, aside from being known as Childish Gambino, has made a name for himself as a brilliant actor and director in his show Atlanta, alongside roles in movies like The Martian and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Beyoncé will be playing Nala – this makes the prospect of ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’, which is sung by Simba and Nala, incredibly exciting. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan will be joining in as Timon and Pumbaa respectively, and with Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, it seems inevitable that this will be one of the most talked about films of the year.
As far as the soundtrack is concerned, it seems that the iconic hits from the original will return. As well as ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’, we can looked forward to revamped versions of ‘The Circle of Life’, ‘Hakuna Matata’ and ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’. The masterminds from the original have reprised their music roles once again – this will be scored by Hans Zimmer, and Elton John and Tim Rice have also returned to add some new songs that will hopefully become as well loved as the originals. There are also rumours that Beyoncé has recorded a new song for the end credits, which has potential to be huge, not only in terms of chart success but also when it comes to award ceremonies.
There is an awful lot of pressure when it comes to reworking a movie that is so close to so many people’s hearts, but it seems that no expense has been spared in trying to make this one a triumphant success. Without giving away any spoilers (although, if you somehow haven’t seen the original, you should) the prospect of having our hearts broken all over again – photorealistically, this time around – seems pretty exciting!
The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau, will be released in the UK via Walt Disney Pictures on the 19th July 2019.