Is it animated or live action? A commercial product that should appeal to many, or a work of art worthy of Oscar?
Make no mistake: "The Lion King" is an animated film. Almost 100 percent. Just one shot, director Jon Favreau teased before the Hollywood world premiere on Tuesday night, was filmed live. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel confirmed that it was the first thing they did on location in Africa. And it's a beautiful shot – but the whole movie is photorealistic beautiful and created in a digital world.
What Favreau and his "Jungle Book" VFX Master Rob Legato ("Titanic", "Hugo") have achieved Global seasons by animators of Oscar winner MPC Film ("Jungle Book", "Blade Runner 2049") are an amazing game changer. As IndieWire reported during production, "The Lion King" is the first keyframe-animated film shot with a live-action aesthetic on a virtual reality.
The results are breathtaking. Aesthetically, Favreau was able to bring together naturalistic animations of wildlife that moved their mouths, with the voice actors speaking in English and breaking into songs. This could have gone awry in many ways, and although it may not be a big Oscar player ̵
But this gifted director also worked under Disney corporate mandates for a box office juggernaut – hence the cast of actor-singer Donald Glover and Beyoncé Knowles Carter as direct starring, very flat adult Simba and Nala. Each other voice actor is so much richer and more distinctive than himself, from James Earl Jones as Mufasa and Chiwetel Ejiofor as his evil brother Scar to JD McCrary as Young Simba and Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Pumbaa and Timon Favreau (a comedy guy) from his time as an elf) admitted that creating characters was the most fun.
But he did not really create them . Fittingly, the director paid homage to all the creators of the 1994 classic at the premiere – producer Don Hahn and writer Linda Woolverton were present – though the movie Jeff Nathanson ("Catch Me If You Can"). While this "Lion King" is not a word for word remake – Nala asserts herself in a fight with Simba and the lionesses are mighty warriors – it's damn near. (The Writers Guild is not responsible for animated films, in which case Disney uses this categorization.)
The studio's marketing team is attempting to differentiate this "1994 Live Action Remake" of the Disney classic for global moviegoers. and the audience will flock to see this, despite some unavoidable critical brickbats about the film's commercial conservatism. Disney has not yet decided how to apply for awards. At the premiere, Favreau leaned into the VR environment to characterize the film.
But it is animated and should be accepted by the members of the Short and Animation Department of the Academy. Some of them could be threatened. It should compete with Disney's own Pixar feature "Toy Story 4". Instead, Disney can sell the groundbreaking VR environments for the VFX prize won by "Jungle Book" with a lead actor in live action. All this underscores just how the Academy (dominated by actors who love live action) does not reflect the realities of digital filmmaking. (This year's Academy members' invitations were overwhelmingly larger for both VFX and shorts and animation.)
While "The Lion King" is well supported by Hans Zimmer's up-beat classical orchestral music in 2019, he also builds on 1994's original music , The film not only brings back John and Tim Rice's great 1994 songs, including the three Oscar nominees ("Circle of Life", "Hakuna Matata" and winner "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"), But also offers two new original songs, "Spirit", written by Beyonce, Ilya Salmanzadeh and Labrinth, and John's "Never Too Late", which is against his other original "Rocketman", "(I'm gonna) Love Me Again" , will compete.
Beyoncé is already on the scene, throwing her single before the soundtrack (July 11) and her new album inspired by the movie "The Lion King: The Gift" (July 19). "This is Sonic Cinema," she said in a statement. "This is a new storytelling experience. I wanted to find more than just a collection of songs inspired by the movie. It's a mix of genres and collaboration that is not a sound. It is influenced by everything, from R & B, Pop, Hip-Hop and Afro-Beat. Whatever Disney is doing in its awards campaign, however, the conversation about "The Lion King" continues to develop – at least the music industry. should come through.