Disney Release First Clips and Beyonce’s ‘Spirit’ From ‘The Lion King’
It is (almost) time. Disney’s The Lion King received it’s world premiere yesterday. Whilst the rest of us will have to wait a few more days to see if Jon Favreau’s photo realistic reimagining lives up to the original, Disney have released the first two clips from the movie. And if that wasn’t enough, Beyoncé also dropped “Spirit”, Nala’s new song from the movie.
The first clip features JD McCrary’s young Simba and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Scar, as the young prince’s treacherous uncle set a trap for Mufasa.
The fun arrives in the next clip, as Billy Eichner’s Timon and Seth Rogen’s Pumbaa find the run away lion cub after his uncle’s betrayal.
I know a lot has been said about the emoting of the photorealistic animals. Watching these clips I’m still not quite one hundred percent convinced. Mostly I think it works well, but sometimes it feels a little unnatural and more like narrative voice over. They’ve definitely gone for an even greater realism in facial expressions and movement than The Jungle Book did. There’s more emphasis here on body language, like the way Scar gazes up as he tells Simba that Mufasa’s roar could be heard above the rim. Yet the Timon and Pumbaa scene still retains a slightly animated feel, in a good way, in some of the characters’ reactions, as Timon pops up and down from behind a rock to deliver lines like “It gets bigger.” The voice work in both clips is really good, I think when you’re in the cinema and caught up in the movie and the story being told everything will work out great.
And there’s no doubting that this film is a watershed moment in visual effects. Everything about it, from the environments, to the characters, to movement, looks gorgeous.
If you were asked to name the most iconic element of the original Lion King, most people would say the music. And, like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin before it, The Lion King is getting a new song. We’ve already heard Beyoncé and Donald Glover singing part of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” when tickets went on sale last month. Now Beyoncé has released Nala’s new solo, “Spirit”;
Interestingly the song was not written by the original creative team of Elton John and Tim Rice, though they have written a new song for the movie – “Never Too Late” – which will presumably play over the end credits. Instead the song is credited to Beyoncé, Ilya Salmanzadeh, and Timothy McKenzie, and, according to Variety, “is expected to play during an emotional “Lion King” scene involving Beyoncé’s character Nala.”
On first listen it doesn’t seem like the most natural fit with the film’s existing music, but it really is impossible to judge without seeing it within the context of the film and the rest of the score. Out of context Aladdin‘s “Speechless” also seemed like an unnatural fit with the existing songs, but works in the film as the melody is woven into the score throughout, building to the moment it becomes a song.
In addition to featuring on the film’s soundtrack, “Spirit” will be featured on The Lion King: The Gift, a multi-artist album being executive produced and curated by Beyoncé to be released alongside the film on July 19th. In a statement announcing the album the artist said, “This is sonic cinema. This is a new experience of storytelling. I wanted to do more than find a collection of songs that were inspired by the film. It is a mixture of genres and collaboration that isn’t one sound … I wanted to put everyone on their own journey to link the storyline.” The aim of the album is to pay tribute to The Lion King and bring the authentic sounds of African music to the world; “Each song was written to reflect the film’s storytelling that gives the listener a chance to imagine their own imagery, whilst listening to a new contemporary interpretation. It was important that the music was not only performed by the most interested and talented artists but also produced by the best African producers. Authenticity and heart were important to me.”
“Disney’s ‘The Lion King’, directed by Jon Favreau, journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother – and former heir to the throne – has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. Staying true to the classic story, Favreau utilizes pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring the iconic characters to the big screen in a whole new way.”
The Lion King features an all-star cast including Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and James Earl Jones.
Tickets are on sale now and The Lion King roars into theaters July 19th.