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New live-action Lion King poised to be smash hit

Everyone is buzzing about Disney’s announcement about remaking “The Lion King” as a live action film. While the masses are divided on the prospects of this film, I, for one, am hugely excited, and think Disney will do nothing short of a fantastic job. “The Lion King” is one of the defining films of my childhood, and seeing it on the big screen once again in this new form will be nothing short of thrilling.

Why do I think this project will be great? Well, first things first, let’s look at Disney’s track record with these projects. We have so far seen five Disney remakes in the last few years, and while there have been ups and downs, there have been none that disrespected the original material in any way, or lessened our experiences. They have all added depth and additional characters to our prior understandings of these classics.

I believe these films are only getting better and better. Buzz is through the roof on March 2017’s upcoming release of “Beauty and the Beast,” and we are still riding on the high of the fantastic success of last March’s “The Jungle Book,” which I think is the true indicator of the standards for this “Lion King” film.

Watching “The Jungle Book” earlier this year was a simply awe-inspiring experience. It was as if Hollywood magic touched the Kipling book and the classic cartoon and breathed new life to it, as it hurdled into three dimensions with amazing graphics. The film looked sensational, and the storytelling and writing was top notch.

Behind the leadership of this film was director Jon Favreau, who has become one of the most versatile in Hollywood. Favreau’s experiences with “The Jungle Book” make him the perfect candidate to direct “The Lion King,” and luckily for us, he will do so. He has already proven he can create photorealistic animals and tell an amazing story.

“The Jungle Book” displayed heart and humor. If that is not enough proof of Favreau’s talents with family storytelling, why don’t you watch a little 2003 film called “Elf,” and you can tell me if your heart is not warmed while you are dying laughing.

In addition to Favreau’s expertise, I am excited for this “Lion King” remake because this is not the first time people have said this material would not work in live action. After the success of the film, Disney Theatrical decided it would adapt the work for the stage. And while there was a healthy dose of skepticism, under the direction of Julie Taymor, it was nothing short of a smash hit.

Nearly 20 years later, it’s still running on Broadway, with absolutely no signs of slowing down. Disney proved its haters wrong in the ’90s, and they are only more prepared to do the same now.

Lastly, I can’t wait for this film because I just love the story and music. It is a property that transcends the technology and the bells and whistles. When all is said and done, Disney knows the most important thing is to deliver a product that effectively communicates the magic that is “The Lion King,” from the opening Swahili lines to the stampede. Live action will only bring us closer to the story, and while the film will be about animals, it will only feel more human.

Hakuna Matata, it means no worries. Let Disney work its magic.

Erik Benjamin is a junior Television, Radio, Film major. His column appears weekly in Pulp. You can reach him at @embenjamin14 and ebenjami@syr.edu.

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