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Review by Michele E Hawkins & John P Harvey
The birth of Prince Simba (Donald Glover), son of Queen Sarabi (Alfre Woodard) and King Mufasa (James Earl Jones), ruler of Pride Lands, is cause for great celebration. As Simba grows, his childhood is filled with adventure, learning, unwise decisions, and guidance by his understanding and loving father, who explains to him the nature of the circle of life. But Simba is misled by Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), his father’s jealous brother, with disastrous consequences.
Those who know and loved the original fully animated Lion King will find this new creation just as delightful. Under the able direction of Jon Favreau (Iron Man; The Jungle Book), the lead characters retain their original engaging personas, and the enchanting photorealistic computer animated imagery is remarkable.
The Lion King is much more than a visual and musical delight. It is a coming-of-age story showing that through kindness and acceptance childhood wounds and grief can be largely overcome, but that the time to take on the mantle of adulthood with all its responsibilities comes to each of us, irrespective of how frightened and reluctant we may find ourselves. It’s also the story of breaking down barriers to see beyond our fear of others, in this case beautifully illustrated by inter-species acceptance, friendship, and co-operation, in which the much loved Pumbaa the warthog (Seth Rogen) and Timon the meerkat (Billy Eichner) feature large. And it’s a story of the courage to face the past and to stand against evil.
Though the story remains faithful to the original film, the script has undergone some freshening, and the songs, also from the original film, have new arrangements, giving the music a great uplift.
Devotees of the original and newcomers alike are sure to equally relish this film for its thorough exploration of difficult emotions and relationships, its musically and playfulness, and the exquisite detail in its new rendering of African fauna. It’s one of those experiences that everybody will recall decades on.