Film Review: The Lion King (2019)

Just can’t wait to be king.

The live action (actually animated) remake of the critically acclaimed 1994 classic, this version of the Lion King proves to be a beautiful, but inferior imitation of the original.

Disney decided to play it safe with the story this time; the plot is virtually identical to the original, almost straight up shot for shot at times. It’s the same combination of Hamlet and Kimba from the 1994 original, sans the flamboyant flourishes of animation. Going for a more realistic palette and animation style did them no favors here. There’s much to criticize: the unoriginality, the emotionless talking animals, the butchering of the much loved tunes (Be Prepared is a mere shadow of its former self), etc.

One thing that can’t be though, is the CGI. The film is amazingly lifelike and realistic. Landscapes are incredibly detailed and the animals all move with such a natural grace and fluidity that if not for the awkward talking animations you might as well think they were real. It’s hard to believe the whole thing was 100% CG- bar the opening shot, the film is so detailed and lush.

However, all of this technical photorealism comes at the expense of the flourishes and liveliness that that a more cartoony style can provide. Much of the visual spectacle of the musical numbers is severely toned down and more drab and dull as a result. Hakuna Matata suffers most from this change- now we just get the three friends taking a stroll through a forest instead of the lush musical number in the 1994 version. It’s 2 steps back for every step forward.

The performances are a mixed bag. Donald Glover and Chiwetal Ejiofor as Simba and Scar respectively, do a good job but are generally forgettable. Beyonce as Nala was terrible. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan’s Timon and Pumbaa are surprisingly close to the original. Props to the Beauty and the Beast joke instead of the original Luau gag. James Earl Jones, as always, is fantastic as Mufasa.

There’s not much else to really say. This is the same story from 25 years ago, just with a prettier coat of paint. That being said, this film isn’t bad- it’s just outclassed. It’s worth watching on it’s own. If you only have time to watch one though, watch the original. It’s just better in almost every way.

Objective: 6.0/10

Personal: 6.5/10


WRITTEN BY silogore