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Missing the mane chance The Lion King

18 July, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

THE LION KING
Directed by Jon Favreau
Certificate PG
☆☆☆

AT the heart of this feeble feelgood Disney remake there is a serious question: why expend so much creative energy on re-telling this story, like-for-like? Why not give us something new?

The animated version came out in 1994 – and the songs, by Elton John and Tim Rice, quickly became hummable ditties.

But Disney knows a cash cow (or should that be wonga warthog?) when they see one and so have flipped this animated tale by re-making it using stunning live action CGI.

If, somehow, you missed it the first time round and the subsequent stage spin-offs, think a tale of Hamlet-proportions, set in an African savannah, where King Mustafa of the lions is murdered by his evil brother Scar, and his son, Simba, is sent out into exile to secure the throne for the bad guys.

Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is pretty unpleasant as he should be, but not as regally nasty, not as Disney-baddie (ie, hammy) as Jeremy Irons’ take in the original.

For the 2019 version, we have the same songs (and a couple of forgettable new ones) and the same plot, and the same cast of characters as Simba makes his way home to reclaim his place at the top table.

There are some rather scary moments, which will make it a bit too much for the really little ones who should otherwise be perfect fodder to sell this version to – but there are also some set-pieces that make it a comedy. Warthog (Seth Rogen, being Seth Rogen)) and Meerkat (Billy Eichner) provide a Laurel and Hardy vibe, as they did so successfully when they were cartoons.

It is in places very much a scene-for-scene rendition of the original, which for all of its charm and glorious cinematography makes it feel rather pointless.

The major problem is we’ve been here before – we all know what happens, we all know the Shakespearean take that is about to unfold.

While this film is a great celebration of the clever clogs who can make CGI today, it is nothing more than an OK summer flick.

It isn’t exactly bad, it just doesn’t sweep all in its path as the first did. Surely it would have been better to make Lion King II with a whole new story?

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