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The Lion King: 7 classic references we spotted in the first trailer


The first trailer for Disney's The Lion King remake has roared online, and the results look suitably spectacular.

Director Jon Favreau follows up his triumphant 2016 The Jungle Book reboot with another visually arresting blend of Disney nostalgia and photo-realistic CGI. 

With The Lion King poised to be one of 2019's biggest films, here are the classic references to the Disney original we spotted in the new trailer.

1. Sunrise over the savannah

When we said the CGI effects in the new Lion King are photo-realistic, we weren't kidding. The gorgeous recreation of the 1994 movie's famous sunrise sequence blurs the lines between live-action and computer generated to the same sort of breathtaking degree seen in The Jungle Book.

Right from the off, this new Lion King looks particularly reverent to the original, taking more of a cue from Kenneth Branagh's faithful Cinderella remake rather than the revisionist approach of Maleficent.

Disney's live-action The Lion King remake

2. James Earl Jones

Was there a more inspired choice for the voice of wise lion king Mufasa than James Earl Jones? The Darth Vader actor's booming tones are imprinted on a generation of young moviegoers from the original, and Favreau has made the wise choice to bring him back.

For added nostalgic effect, key moments of Mufasa's original dialogue are also left in-tact: "Everything the light touches is our kingdom... Soon, the sun will set on my time as king, and rise on you." Good to see the father-son dynamic that was so powerful and heart-wrenching in the original movie is being preserved here.

James Earl Jones voices Mufasa in Disney's The Lion King remake

3. The buffalo stampede

The stampede seen in the original Lion King was both terrifying and breathtaking, deploying then cutting-edge CGI and mixing it with the hand-drawn animation to craft a visceral sequence. 24 years later, the developments in visual effects technology mean the camera can now glide over the animals as they pour into the canyon – no doubt, it's one of many ways Favreau has updated key imagery from the first movie.

The buffalo stampede in Disney's The Lion King remake

4. Pride Rock

If we're talking about the new movie being reverential, it doesn't get more faithful than the recreation of Simba's home, Pride Rock. The landscape shots, accompanied by the kneeling animals, could easily have been lifted from the 1994 movie, but Favreau clearly knows when to mess with the classic formula, and when to leave it alone.

Pride Rock in Disney's The Lion King remake

5. Simba's blessing

Our first close-up view of the film's remarkable-looking effects comes when baboon Rafiki blesses Simba as part of the Pride Rock ceremony. As with The Jungle Book, the nuance and attention to detail on the fur and the eyes is really quite extraordinary, breathing fresh life into Disney characters who are now two decades old.

Young Simba in Disney's The Lion King remake

6. 'Circle of Life'

The soundtrack to The Lion King was key to its emotional impact, composer Hans Zimmer working with songwriters/performers Elton John and Tim Rice to craft a magnificent tapestry. All three are back to work on the new movie, and four songs have been confirmed as returning: 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight', 'Hakuna Matata', 'I Just Can't Wait to be King' and 'Circle of Life'.

Artist Lebo M's 'Circle of Life' in fact adorns this new trailer – is there any other way to begin The Lion King?

Hans Zimmer, Elton John and Tim Rice return to score Disney's The Lion King remake

7. Adult Simba

We don't get to hear any of the A-list vocal performances in the trailer, but this fleeting, closing shot of the grown-up Simba teases Donald Glover as the character.

With Glover and Earl Jones joining Beyonce (Nala), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), Seth Rogen (Pumba), Billy Eichner (Timon), John Oliver (Zazu), Alfre Woodard (Sarabi) and Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari), this surely has one of the best ensemble casts of any 2019 movie.

Donald Glover voices adult Simba in Disney's The Lion King remake

What are your highlights from The Lion King trailer? With the movie released on 19th July 2019, tweet us your responses @Cineworld.