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Review: The Lion King (2019)

Poster image of Walt Disney Pictures' THE LION KING

In spite of this latest version of The Lion King being called “live-action,” it’s obviously just an animated but with far superior technology compared to the original that was released back in 1994. I’m sure that’s what the vast majority might be expecting, so the rest of what this remake has to offer is likely to be more important to those of you who are interested. In saying that what we get in this time around will mostly satisfy the masses even if it’s unable to provide a lifetime of joy.

Things change for in the African savanna after a future king (JD McCrary) is born. His name is Simba (also played by Donald Glover) and his arrival has been a cause for celebration for almost all. The only one who doesn’t seem to be too happy is Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the former heir to the throne. Although things are set in motion for a new king to take over at some point, Scar isn’t just going to accept it as he devises a plan that could see him seize control and rule as he sees fit.

At the start, I’ll just come out and say that it’s hard to capture the essence that made the original version of The Lion King special. The main reason for that is due to them essentially using “true to life” versions of the animals that the world was introduced to in conventional animated form nearly two and a half decades ago. Simply put, it’s difficult to get the right amount of emotion and personality from these characters when you’re basically using lifelike CGI versions of animals.

Because of that, everything is pretty restrictive when it comes to expressing the emotion we get from the characters. You can hear it in their voices, but you can’t always see it in their faces. Trying to make them more visually expressive would have been odd. In doing so, you would have been asking them to be more human and that wouldn’t have looked right. So although it is confining, having them always look exactly like their real-life counterparts was the only way to approach it.

Outside of that obvious difference, this is really a shot for shot remake of the original. Taking everything into account, this was an extremely safe approach to take as it is almost certain to satisfy many (to some degree) who enjoyed the first or have never seen it. On the other hand, this could (and likely will) disappoint some who are yearning for something close to new from the film industry.

With the lack of originality in Hollywood today, knowing that this is almost a complete copy may deter people from wanting to see it. There’s not a whole lot wrong with it as a film, but you have to question whether or not this is worth spending your money on since it’s literally almost an exact replica of a movie that you can watch anytime you want to right now. So I think plenty of people will like it, but I also believe that those who do decide to see it might just feel like the whole exercise was unnecessary.

Honestly, I would agree with that, but it could be worth seeing in the eyes of some people. Not only for those who haven’t seen the original, but also for those who may like the new visual style. Other than for the new visuals, there’s no other reason to check this out. In fact, I would suggest watching the original instead since it’s better and has fewer limitations. I guess you could watch both as well. If you do, just watch the latest version first due to it being the weaker of the two.

I guess another alternative is to wait for someone to blend the two films together. I’m assuming this would be done by some random person, but at this rate, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Disney do it themselves. All you’d have to do is take the footage from the old movie and put it together with the voice acting from this one. Based on how similar the two are, this is certainly doable. When that happens, I expect that version to work just as well as these have.

Even though I would have preferred something more original, this remake of The Lion King is pretty strong. Based on what it is, accomplishing that, in this case, wasn’t all that difficult. It’s hard to tell people how to feel about it, but the finished product being of good quality may be enough for some. For others, taking the time and spending the money to see it may not be worth it. This is one of those instances where it really depends on what you want out of a movie.

Rating: PG

Director: Jon Favreau

Screenwriter: Jeff Nathanson

Donald Glover
Seth Rogen
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Alfre Woodard
Billy Eichner
John Kani
John Oliver
Florence Kasumba
Eric André
Keegan-Michael Key
JD McCrary
Shahadi Wright Joseph
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
James Earl Jones

Film Length: 118 minutes

Release Date: July 19, 2019

Distributor: Disney

  • 7/10
    Score - 7/10
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