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Culture & Entertainment

The Lion King Remake Brings Diversity To Disney

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Just a few short days ago Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made their first red carpet debut as a royal couple at The Lion King’s London premiere. Though the film may have mixed reviews from the critics, one thing is for sure: Disney’s live-action remake of the animated classic is set to be one of the hottest tickets at the box office this year. And we’re here for it.

Perhaps the characters don’t hold the same level of quirky camp as the original or aren’t as avant-garde as the Broadway version—but (in my opinion at least) the powerhouse cast and the stunning visuals make it a must-see unlike anything else this summer. Walt Disney Motion Pictures President Sean Bailey calls the striking film “a new form of filmmaking.” One that utilizes both live-action and animated elements to create a remarkable photorealistic CGI-animated backdrop. But that’s not the only reason we’re gunning for the movie.

 

We also can’t discount the fact that the new Lion King offers viewers glimpses of gorgeous (albeit computer generated) African scenery and the cast, unlike the films of Disney’s past, attempts to add more diversity into the mix. Donald Glover and Beyoncé steal the show as the leads Simba and Nala; James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa; Chiwetel Ejiofor voices the villainous Scar; Eric Andre, Florence Kasumba, and Keegan-Michael Key make up the mischievous “hyena pack”; and John Kani plays the beloved Rafiki. With the exception of Billy Eichner’s and Seth Rogan’s Timon and Pumbaa, and John Oliver’s Zazu, all of the main characters are played by POC. Which is a major step forward from Disney’s notoriously whitewashed history.

Whether or not the new Lion King holds up to the beloved 1994 original is still up in the air. The movie debuted yesterday in theaters nationwide. Critics are, well, criticizing the film for not living up to its potential and failing to provide audiences with new material to devour. But I’ve never been one to live by the critics’ opinion, and I sure as hell am not going to start now. For the scenery, the soundtrack, and the cast alone, this film is sure to be one of the most captivating of the year. And let’s not forget that the London premiere gave us the epic moment of catching Beyoncé and Meghan Markle in an embrace—so, there’s that… We’ll leave it up to you to decide for yourself. Just get yourself over to the theater ASAP.

Photo Credit: @lionking

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