The Lion King (2019): Is the Love Still There?

The Lion King CG Disney movie
The Lion King live-action remake


Disney has decided that the live-action remake of animated classics is the way to go as a way to create a new revenue stream. While some of them have been amazing (Beauty and the Beast), some of them have fallen flat and failed to make a mark (Aladdin). On which side of the aisle does The Lion King fall? Read on.

The live-action version of The Lion King uses CGI created animals voiced by Hollywood royalty. James Earl Jones (Star Wars franchise) returns to voice Mufasa, king of Pride Rock and the animal kingdom. Scar, Mufasa’s villainous brother, is voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, Doctor Strange). Simba is voiced by two different actors. JD McCrary (Little, Teachers) voices young Simba while the amazing Donald Glover (Community, Atlanta, Solo: A Star Wars Story) plays adult Simba. Young Nala is voiced by Shahadi Wright Joseph (Us, Hairspray Live!) and the incomparable Beyonce Knowles-Carter (Dreamgirls, Cadillac Records) lends her voice to Nala.

Rounding out the cast are Seth Rogan (Superbad, Knocked Up) as Pumbaa, Billy Eichner (The Angry Birds Movie, Parks and Recreation) as Timon, John Oliver (Last Week with John Oliver, The Smurfs) as Zazu, John Kani (Black Panther, Captain America: Civil War) as Rafiki, Eric Andre (Disenchantment) as Azizi, Florence Kasumba (Black Panther, Wonder Woman) as Shenzi and Keegan Michael Key (Keanu, Key and Peele) as Kamari.

The movie is directed by Jon Favreau. The marvelous Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Inception) composed the soundtrack for the new version. This remake follows the Disney formula for live-action remakes by keeping the same storyline as the original. The soundtrack for this newest entry also remains the same with the addition of two new songs named “Never Too Late” which was written and performed by Sir Elton John and “Spirit,” a new song by Beyonce.

So, let’s get down to the review portion. I was so excited when I heard about this live-action remake because the original Lion King movie is one of my all-time favorite films. But I will also admit I was a bit hesitant. I didn’t quite see how the magic of the original animated movie would translate in a live-action (computer-generated) setting.

After seeing the movie, I was right to be hesitant. The visuals for the movie were amazing. I will say that. The amount of time and effort the technicians put in to make the animals of the African savanna look lifelike is nothing short of miraculous. However, the movie lost probably the most important part of the original film: the heart.

I cried (and still do) every time I watch the original when Simba realizes his father is dead. I didn’t while watching this new version. The heart is an important part of The Lion King story and it vanished here.

If you like animal documentaries or if you appreciate feats of CGI genius, go see this movie. But if you are expecting the heartfelt story of the original one, save your money because you will be disappointed.

I would give The Lion King a total of 2 Pride Rocks out of 5.

Author: Angelica Colby

Angelica has her Masters in Teaching and uses that daily in her job as an educator and Boy/Girl Scout Program Specialist at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. She loves movies of all sorts (except horror) and is a reality TV show junkie. Newer to the convention scene, she is getting her feet wet and hopes to be covering WonderCon, SDCC and DragCon LA in 2019.

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