The special effects in the new trailer for Disney’s remake of The Lion King are nothing short of dazzling. Every beetle wing, every clod of dirt, every strand of fur is rendered in immaculate detail, raising the question: Are we sure these aren’t just, like, real lions who’ve been trained to sing and dance? At any moment it feels as though David Attenborough will chime in to explain that hakuna matata means “no worries for the rest of your days.”
Director Jon Favreau has pulled off this trick before with the hyper-realistic animation of The Jungle Book. But this isn’t The Jungle Book, it’s The Lion King, and there’s no real, human actor playing Mowgli to ground the special effects in reality. Fortunately, the animators make it easy to distinguish between, for example, Scar and Mufasa, even though they’re lacking the expressive faces of their 2D-animated counterparts.
The Lion King will feature the voices of Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as warthog-and-meerkat duo Timon and Pumbaa. But given the commitment to realism, will Timon still dress in drag and do the hula? We’ll have to wait until July 19 to find out.