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BBC – Culture – Film Criticism: The Lion King



With its mythical history of life and death, not to mention lions and hyenas, the Lion King was an unlikely candidate for photorealistic treatment. But the new film leaps into naturalism, with dazzling authenticity, as computer-generated herds of zebras, elephants and antelopes walk across the canvas for a sweeping African view towards Pride Rock, where King Mufasa waits to hold his cub, Simba, high. With the circle of life in the background, this majestic scene takes us into the exciting world of film before a word is spoken. It may be all CGI, but the Lion King feels more alive than Disney's many recent live action remakes of his animated classics. You do not need a detective to see why this movie quickly became a classic. It has adorable animals and rival Bambi in his moving death of a parent. The original songs of Elton John and Tim Rice are so vivacious and thrilling that they are now as familiar as anything from The Sound of Music.

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Jon Favreau's movie is funnier than the original, though he's the one emphasizes dark themes of the story. It adds a few helpful scenes and two ordinary songs. Nevertheless, it does not deviate far from the classic. This is not a visionary, artistic reinterpretation, as was the Broadway version. Director Julie Taymor has brilliantly added more African-inspired music, masks and fantastic giant puppets. However, this film is a careful remake that has its origins in its life-like graphics. Some actors have a more realistic portrayal than others, which makes the tone a bit irregular. But if the new Lion King is not as seamless as the previous versions, it's full of adventure and just as tempting. The words of the animals do not perfectly match her mouth – the only conspicuous mistake in the midst of all the technical magic. This distraction soon fades as the power of history takes over.

As in the original, the first words come from Mufasa's annoying brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is spoken with the mouse he is about to catch and eat. "Life is not fair," he says and triggers the rivalry issue – both in the animal kingdom and between siblings. This scar is still trying to kill Simba and inherit the throne, but he is the character most radically different from the original. Then Jeremy Irons scar with emerald eyes and gorgeously black mane provided lines in such a withered, sly tone that he remains one of Disney's indelible baddies. The new scar has gaunt flanks, a ravaged face and a mangy coat. Ejiofor speaks his lines in a dark growl that is almost too subdued and real for this oversized production.

James Earl Jones, the only actor returning from the first film, was apparently irreplaceable as Mufasa. Jones credibly lends credibility to this larger-than-life character as Mufasa teaches a young Simba (JD McCrary) about the cycles of nature, the duties of a king, and the way his ancestors look down from the stars and guide him. 19659007] Eichner, who almost runs away with the film, has a witty cynicism in his lines.

John Oliver purposely tells witty jokes as Zazu the hornbill bird flies around and hovers protectively over Simba. Like Ejiofor, Oliver speaks his songs more than he sings them, which works perfectly. The music usually flows so gracefully into the plot that it jars, if it is not so – if Simba goes around, I can not wait to be king, the film also seems to be in love with the National Geographic backdrop.

Although Young Simba does not realize it, the song is about a boy who wishes his father to die. As in the original, he does not have to wait long. But first he endures some extremely spooky action scenes, including one in which the vicious hyenas chase him and Nala, his girlfriend and future love, into a tunnel. Throughout the film, Favreau and the great cinematographer Caleb Deschanel mimic the camera movements of live action movies. This rapprochement is most noticeable when we see a horrified Simba approaching in the tunnel, or when Mufasa hurries to save him. When Mufasa climbs a cliff and Scar pushes him away, Hans Zimmer's beautiful orchestral music adds to the effect of the scene.

After all this tragedy, the movie cleverly turns into a comedy as Simba runs away and meets his new friends. Billy Eichner as Timon, the white Meerkat and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, the kind-hearted, but clumsy warthog, are among the happiest decisions of the film. Eichner, who almost runs away with the film, has a witty cynicism in his lines. "Let me simplify that for you. Life is pointless, "he says to Simba, laughing at the idea of" royal dead in the sky "watching over us. Of course he will come over.

Beyoncé was obviously cast for her music.

Eichner's and Rogen's happy version of Hakuna Matata leads us through the scene where Simba crosses the canvas as he grows out of a boy into a lion, who appears on the other side with Donald Glovers voice. Glover is a wonderfully real Simba who captures the petulance of a teenager on the verge of masculinity. Beyoncé plays adult Nala and together they sing Can You Feel the Love Tonight. Beyoncé gives the character a compelling fierceness, and some fresh scenes with her and Simba's mother Sarabi (Alfre Woodard) give him a contemporary flair. The women of this pride are powerful and strive for hyenas. It's just a nod, but it's worth it.

Beyoncé was obviously cast for her music. The hymn-like song she co-wrote and sings, Spirit, is alright, but feels compelled to be heard as Nala and Simba snake back to Pride Rock for a final confrontation with Scar. The new song by Elton John, which appears under the credits Never Too Late, is dull compared to the originals.

Some early critics of the film found it soulless and treated it as a crime against humanity. You need a helping of Hakuna Matata (do not worry). This ridiculous indignation – the new version is not even a crime against cinema – speaks to how valuable the memory of the original is. You can return to the original movie that stands for both his beauty and Jeremy Irons. Watch the new version for fun and immerse yourself in a fantastic, real-world world. The appealing new Lion King proves that history and music are endlessly adaptable and almost foolproof.

★★★★ ☆

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