WHAT I LIKED: Disney's live-action remakes have been a somewhat mixed bag. Some have unnecessarily altered great classics for no apparent end at all (*ahem* Beauty and The Beast), whilst others have felt like entirely pointless rehashes (I'm looking at you Jungle Book). What Jon Favreau's Lion King does though is gently sprinkle some elevating new ingredients onto the original script, and add to the original's spectacular wonder at the same time to make for a slightly-improved film in some regards.
Yes whilst the '94 movie has become a well-deserved Disney classic, I'm generally of the opinion that that's more down to its incredible execution than its script, as that ultimately boiled its interesting story down to a few simple scenes. As a result, the few extras here really do add to things to make for something a little more layered - mostly because there's more exploration of the circle of life idea. The film also takes its time a touch more with Favreau delivering beautiful tracking shots panning from the smallest to the largest creatures to emphasise the way that the life on screen is connected further, and that ultimately means it's more so about that concept than it was before.
But the original Lion King was really about the wonder and the power of its visuals and songs over anything else, and thankfully that's definitely retained here as on the one hand the songs are just as spectacular (they really are timeless), but most of all the visuals are utterly incredible. The visual effects are almost flawless, every creature looks real, and the landscapes are just breathtaking, and ultimately the fact that The Lion King has always been all about visual wonder means this is probably the Disney film to which a 'live-action' format is best-suited. Couple that with the fact that this one is also far funnier than the original and what you've got is finally a great live-action remake from Disney that actually improves upon the original.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: If you put aside the awkward fact that these animals' eyebrows don't move, the only real issue is that it does remain a fairly simple script overall despite all the tamperings, and ultimately it's those flaws in the first place that mean this original film in particular works as a remake as there are actually things to improve upon. Then of course there's the issue of validity, and there it's hard to argue that all of this ground-breaking visual technology and filmmaking care wouldn't have been even more impressive if applied to a new story rather than one we all know like the back of our hands.
VERDICT: Finally a Disney remake that takes its original and improves on it a little, Jon Favreau's 'The Lion King' sees a slightly more developed script and wonderful visuals add to the power and wonderment of the flawed '94 classic.