The Lion King is Back in Action

lion roaring on top of mountain during golden hour

Nobody can ever forget Disney’s first original animated movie from 1994. The Lion King was a surprise success that Disney never saw coming. With a script vaguely based on Hamlet, Hans Zimmer and Elton John heading the music, the iconic voices of Jeremy Irons and Rowan Atkinson and a script that was chock full of puns and jokes alongside drama, revenge, family and guilt. Disney’s decision to make a live-action remake was and still is met with scepticism from die-hard fans but the rest of the world seems to be lining up to revisit their childhood in an almost shot for shot remake.
The more adorable Simba
The movie picks off in the unforgettable tunes of ‘A Circle of Life’ with Simba being presented to the animals of Pride Rock and their celebration. This time, however, Simba’s sneeze is just so much more adorable and cuter in live-action. The movie follows the same story until we get a look at Scar. Jeremy Irons had done an amazing job as the original edgy Scar. This live-action Scar, however, seemed excessively battle worn with a hole in his ear, scraggly with a dirty mane and the characteristic scar over his left eye. Zazu is just as ministerial as before and Simba is everything but humble. It cannot be said enough how cute he is when Sarabi grabs a hold of him and starts licking. 
The Difference
‘I Just Can't-Wait to Be King’ is where we see the first deviation we see from the classic. Simba and Nala escape from Zazu in a much more realistic and just as funny sequence. The Elephant Graveyard is almost as menacing as before except this time the Hyenas are much more menacing and scarier. They create such an atmosphere; you don’t even notice the missing elephant skull from the classic. Shenzi is frankly petrifying and you feel the relief when Mufasa comes roaring in to save Simba. The side effect of a saner and bloodthirsty version of the Hyenas results in the almost complete change in the song ‘Be Prepared’. Jeremy Irons insinuations of the lack of intelligence in Hyenas in his British were sorely missing as was the Nazi-style goose-stepping Hyenas.
Simba practising his roar and the stampede are also shot for shot re- dos. Now, personally speaking, Mufasa’s death was tragic; however, it wasn’t the saddest thing to happen. What broke heart at age 6 was Simba’s reaction at seeing Mufasa fall and his attempts at waking him up. However, this scene just seemed to lose a bit of the punch when Simba didn’t bite on Mufasa’s ear like when he did when trying to wake him up in the morning. The curling up under the chin seemed much more natural but lacked the gut-punch of sliding under his dead father’s arms for one last comforting embrace before being cast out into the unknown. 
Timon and Pumbaa
The minute Timon and Pumbaa come onscreen they and everybody watching them are having the time of their life. This time, however, Timon doesn’t freak out after seeing Simba’s face but instead does a very realistic acrobatic Meer cattish high jump after seeing Simba’s canines. This was perhaps the best funny change in the remake that had everyone in splits. The whole theatre sang along to ‘Hakuna Matata’ and we even got to hear the uncensored version of the joke this time. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan have managed to create a new version of Timon and Pumbaa that are just as funny and unique as the Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella version. This resulted in an actual rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ that took everyone by surprise and jolted everyone when Nala interrupted them.
What followed was an almost replica of the classic story we remember where something felt missing. Rafiki has been missing his stick from the start of the movie; Nala and Simba don’t have the “Pinjyagayne” moment either as kinds or during their reunion, and Mufasa in the clouds is far too vague. However, it does give it a much more realistic and grounded feel to the whole story.
The Return of the King
Simba returns with Nala. It’s an important addition to the story because an added scene showed Nala’s escape. So, this forms a nice tying of ends. Timon and Pumbaa follow them and then perhaps create the most meta and awesome moment in the entire movie. In the original, Timon dresses up in a Hawaiian outfit and presents Pumbaa as a meal and scram to lure the hyenas away. This time, however, Disney makes a self-referential meta joke when Timon sings an altered version of ‘Be Our Guest’ from Beauty and the Beast. This hilarious and unexpected twist had us in stitches for the final showdown where Rafiki brings out his characteristic stick and kicks ass. 
We all remember what follows, however, the final ‘Pinjyagayne’ with a kick is replaced for a much more realistic and brutal brawl between Scar and Simba. The final moment is an eerily reminiscent moment where Rafiki touches Simba’s forehead just like he did Mufasa’s before presenting Simba’s son to the Pride Lands.
The Verdict
The Lion King captures the magic of the 1994 Classic and tries to improve on it. Factual errors from the classic are addressed and the animals act in an extremely realistic fashion while dancing and singing. The subtle expressions of the animations are lost in the remake but makeup in sheer visuals. BeyoncĂ© and Donald Glover’s musical talents seemed to go underutilized to preserve the musical integrity of the classic. All in all, the movie turns a 20-something-year-old into a toddler who would watch this movie every day without fail and sing the songs loudly around the house in nothing but shorts with the wrong lyrics. The Lion King whether in animation or live-action does not fail to take you back to your childhood and relive great memories.

- Nachiket Bhushan Kondhalkar

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