Following the untimely death of his father Mufasa (James Earl Jones), young lion cub Simba (Donald Glover) must now grow up to be a king and save his people from treachery.
What Worked: Director Jon Favreau returns to the Disney universe with a remake of the classic tale “The Lion King”. The first thing that pops out about this movie is how gorgeous it looks. All of the beautiful landscapes of the pride lands looks exactly like the classic cartoon, except more realistic. All of our favorite characters are included, displaying uncanny realism. Outside of using living beings these are the most realistic looking animals in film history. In fact, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between these characters and real life. Most of our voice actors did a great job headlined by Donald Glover as Simba. Beyoncé lends her voice as Nala, and along with Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) the end product is spot on. The highlight of Lion King’s characters, however, are the dynamic duo of Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumba (Seth Rogan). Allowing these two to improvise resulted in some of the films best moments. It was nice to see that Favreau expanded on some content from the original. Action scenes involving the hyenas that were included add great intrigue for fans of the cartoon. Finally, we get all of the classic songs from the original recreated for 2019. The cast chips in admirably led by Beyoncé and Glover.
What Didn’t Work: My main critique of The Lion King goes hand in hand with it’s greatest strength. Our computer generated characters are breathtaking throughout. Unfortunately, when our characters are talking to one another the mouth movements and expressions look strange. Because animals cannot laugh or talk the filmmakers have no reference as to how this would look in real life. I understand the struggle but the final product looks a little awkward. I was a fan of almost all of the movie’s voice actors except for John Oliver’s Zazu. Zazu is obviously meant to be an annoying character that is seen as being too parental of Simba. This iteration misses the mark of making him even slightly likable by the credits. It also would have been nice to see Favreau take a few more chances when the opportunity presented itself. This new product is practically a straight remake of the original. Other than a few added scenes and a couple musical tweaks viewers will not have many surprises in store for them.
Overall: This realistic reimagining of the Disney classic is a great addition to their extensive catalog. Although it doesn’t offer too many new elements to the original story, it still entertains from beginning to end. Timon and Pumba steal the show, providing great musical and comedic moments. The animals themselves look amazing, and viewers begin to question if we are even looking at computer-animated characters. For children being introduced to this story you may want to refer to the original cartoon first. It was slightly shorter while still delivering the message of how to become great. Big fans of the original will enjoy this reimagining for providing a new sleek look to a classic tale. One major critique, however, may be due to it’s vast similarities to the original. Minor complaints aside, however, Disney strikes again with another blockbuster hit that families will enjoy thoroughly.