The Lion King, a technical feat [critique]

Is the mode of cartoons (The Jungle Book, Aladdin, Dumbo) transposed live or in photo-realistic mode worn out? Not sure. The Lion King preserves the beauty of history and offers us the majestic spectacle of nature. A success.

In 2019, Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book, The Mandalorian…) was at the helm of a remake of the Lion King, a cult cartoon released in 1994, which will be broadcast this Sunday for the first time in clear, on M6. While Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) is currently preparing the sequel, still live and for Disney studios, we are republishing our review of the film. more packed than Elton John’s !

The story is the same. The staging takes up the major key sequences, including the opening of the film with the salute to Simba to the music of Elton John. The only difference is that everything looks real.

The first question we ask ourselves is why. Why continue to remake iconic Walt Disney cartoons in photo-realistic mode? Alice in Wonderland de Burton got the ball rolling. The success was there. Since then, remakes have followed one another at an increasingly accelerated pace. This year, no less than three of these films were released: Dumbo in March, Aladdin in May and finally The Lion King in July.

Well the answer is certainly in The Lion King ! These films are indeed new animated films! No animal is real. Simba, Sfar, Mufasa and Nala are created in computer graphics. And the excellence of the special effects (which we owe to MPC, the company that allowed the jungle book directed by the same Jon Favreau to win the Oscar for visual effects) is admirable. We are dazzled by the way he manages to endow animals with emotion. The opening scene where the royal couple comes to present their offspring to all the animals provides chills. Disney has created a new hybrid that takes animation even further by enriching it with documentary footage. The technical prowess deserves to be saluted.

The Lion King: For Jon Favreau, doing the live-action remake was a “balancing act”

Remake or copy?

The other question is why did you make an almost shot-to-shot remake of the film? First, only the key sequences are identical: the opening – as we have said -, Simba’s rescue in the gorges, the fire… Changes appear imperceptibly: the role of Nala (in VO dubbed by Beyoncé Knowles) is fleshed out, the comic exchanges between Pumba and Timon (in VF Alban Ivanov and Jamel Debbouze) are lengthened and even offer three songs to the duo, including the famous Hakuna Matata.

But what really changes is the way the sets are filmed. Postcards of the savannah in the cartoon, the landscapes of Africa come to life here in a striking way. The way in which Jon Favreau stages them gives a new message to the film. In this Lion Kingit is no longer just a question of assuming one’s heritage, but above all of preserving a nature that we know is threatened.

Animated film or not, in which box to put The Lion King?

VO or VF?

The choice looks complex. You would have to see both to enjoy both the golden voice of the American performers taking up the hits created by Elton John and Tim Rice. Beyoncé and Donald Glover treat us to a majestic “Can you feel the love tonight”. On the French side, Jean Reno perfectly resumes the role of Mufasa that he held in the original cartoon. Jamel Debbouze and Alban Ivanov bring a welcome rhythm and humor to the roles of Timon and Pumba. And the songs are, for once, performed by mostly spoken voices like Anne Sila who plays Nala. The Lion King is sure to bring the generations together this summer.

The Lion King – Jamel Debbouze: “Disney has brought animation to an unprecedented level”

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