‘The Lion King’ is Visually Stunning, But There’s a Disconnect

‘The Lion King’ is Visually Stunning, But There’s a Disconnect

Movie Reviews

Released in 1994, Disney’s animated film The Lion King still holds a very special place in our hearts. The emotional relationship that Simba shares with his righteous royal father Mufasa, the malicious intentions of a scheming Scar – the whole theme of fighting for honour and redemption, love and betrayal might have played out in the Pridelands but resonated beautifully with all of us.

We are in 2019, and director Jon Favreau and screenplay writer Jeff Nathanson give us the rebooted version of this endearing classic.

The technological advancements that have taken place since the first Lion King came out are on full display, as the photo-realistic computer animation provides an absolutely staggering visual treat. The magnificence of Mufasa, the little cuddly cub that Simba is, from the expanse of the jungle to even a blade of grass – everything seems real, grand and stunning.

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But for us desi audiences, it’s also our own Bollywood royalty King Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) and his son Aryan Khan lending their voice to Mufasa and Simba, respectively, that constitutes a major pull.

Does Aryan sound like SRK? Well, yes, there is an uncanny semblance, which somehow adds to the thrill of it all. But probably because Aryan’s voice obviously has a freshness to it, he seems a perfect fit for Simba. SRK sounds like himself throughout, in a way overshadowing the character itself!

The Disconnect

And this brings us to the larger question of “disconnect” that we somehow feel with this upgraded version of The Lion King.

In the pursuit of total beauty and realism, one misses the simplicity of the traditionally animated characters – where the faces would contort and the features be more exaggerated in keeping with the dialogues, which would help us relate to them better.

Here, in wanting to keep everything real and avoid anthropomorphising, the voice sometimes doesn’t even seem like it belongs to the characters.

Moreover, this version remains completely truthful to the storyline of the original. So fatigue does set in because we know exactly what will happen.

And since the necessary emotional playoff is missing, one never quite connects with Simba or Mufasa quite the same way like we did with the 1994 version.

Comic Timing is Great

The best moments and the Hindi dialogues are reserved for Timon and Pumbaa, voiced by Shreyas Talpade and Sanjay Mishra, respectively. The comic timing is great and all the jokes land.

Add to this Asrani’s signature dialogue delivery, and each time Zuzu appears we can’t help but chuckle!

Ashish Vidyarthi’s booming voice as Scar is impressive, but for some reason Scar has been given such a dishevelled, haggard look that he never looks like a worthy enough rival to Mufasa.

This robs the film of some genuinely authentic emotionally-charged moments.

The sequences between Mufasa and Scar, or when Simba finally takes on the might of Scar should have made us feel more invested but fall flat, and this further exposes the simplistic storyline.

Apart from Hakuna Matata, most of the other songs in the Hindi version sung by Sunidhi Chauhan and Armaan Malik are totally forgettable.

For those of us who have seen the original this new technologically advanced version will seem visually super impressive and stunning, but emotionally equally hollow.

Still, it holds our attention and the photo-realistic animation is fascinating.

3 Quints out of 5!

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