Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Disney releases new 'Lion King' trailer – and the animation makes the animals look almost real

The photo-realistic remake will be released in July

Disney has dropped a new trailer for its forthcoming Lion King remake, and it looks stunning.

The clip doesn’t give too much away in terms of plot, but surely we all know the plot by now anyway thanks to the animated 1994 original? Simba the lion prince (JD McCrary as a cub and Donald Glover as a grown-up) is destined to follow in the footsteps of his father Mufasa (James Earl Jones, reprising his voice role from the 1994 film) and become king of the African plains.

His wicked uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has other plans, however, and takes the crown for himself, having framed young Simba for his father’s murder and forcing the young cub into exile, where he grows up with a variety of other wild animals, in particular a meerkat and a warthog, Timon and Pumbaa, who become Simba’s mentors. He eventually returns to his pride to challenge Scar and take his rightful place in the circle of life.

Stunning animation

Disney released an initial trailer last year, which recreated the original’s opening Circle of Life scene with a faithful homage rendered in ultra-realistic computer-animation. The latest trailer proves that John Favreau will be keeping with the jaw-dropping visuals throughout – if we didn’t know otherwise, we could be forgiven for thinking the movie is a live-action remake with some incredibly well-trained animals.

New characters

The trailer also offers a first look at characters like Scar, Zazu the hornbill (John Oliver), Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), Timon (Billy Eichner), Simba’s love interest Nala (Beyonce), and the hyenas Shenzi (Florence Kasumba), Azizi (Eric Andre) and Kamari (Keegan-Michael Keye).

Recreated scenes and speaking out loud

Like in the previous trailer, the film continues to recreate memorable scenes from the original. Here we see reconstructed scenes of Simba’s time growing up with Timon and Pumbaa, a clip from the famous wildebeest stampede, and adult Simba's return to Pride Rock. Disney insists the new version isn’t a shot-by-shot remake with the new technology, but it’s certainly clear that Favreau has been very faithful to the original in the new work.

Beyond that, this is also the first footage that shows the characters talking, which could get a bit weird given how realistic the animals in the film are.

Remake reticence?

The Lion King is part of Disney’s ongoing slate of 'live action' remakes of its animated classics, and is doubtless aimed at making sure Disney remains king of the box office.

With a poor opening box office for Tim Burton’s Dumbo remake last month, however, and lukewarm buzz surrounding the forthcoming Aladdin return, the jury is still out on whether the public really has an appetite for endless remakes of classics.

Fortunately for Disney, with Avengers: Endgame due to release at the end of this month, it’s unlikely to be going into the red any time soon.

The Lion King is scheduled to release on July 19.

Updated: April 10, 2019 05:53 PM

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