“The Lion King” Receives a Three Star Review


The movie poster for the new Lion King movie.

Disney’s “The Lion King” first made its debut on June 24, 1994 and grossed $968.5 million at the box office. 

The movie’s success led to numerous adaptations and spin-offs, including three sequels, several video games, merchandise, areas dedicated to the franchise in the Disney parks, and the creation of a Broadway show that features a musical score by Elton John. 

“The Lion King” follows a pride of lions who oversee a kingdom of animals, known as the Pride Lands in the African savanna. It specifically details the life of the current king Mufusa’s son Simba. It has garnered attention for the parallels to William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

Due to the success of the original “The Lion King” franchise and of Walt Disney Pictures’ live-action adaptations of beloved Disney classics, it came as no surprise that “The Lion King” would receive its own live-action remake. Announced on September 28, 2016, Walt Disney Pictures confirmed that filmmaker Jon Favreau would be directing the remake of the 1994 movie. 

The movie features celebrities such as Donald Glover who was cast as Simba, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa, John Oliver as Zazu, and Beyonce as Nala. James Earl Jones also reprised his role as Mufusa. 

On a scale of five stars, I give the 2019 remake three. The two-star reduction comes from the CGI animation and visuals used throughout the movie and some of the more humorous moments from the original movie that are omitted. While the animals and the visuals themselves are very impressive, the remake feels more like a nature documentary than a Disney movie. 

Part of the problem with the new CGI animation is that the animals are not as expressive as in the traditional Disney animation. This lack of expression makes the musical numbers and scenes less dramatic, and they fall flat. Additionally, some of the more humorous scenes from the original have been deleted and replaced (such as the Hula Dance Scene featuring Timon and Pumbaa). While it was not practical to create them with the new CGI animation, they are still missed. 

One positive aspect of the remake of “The Lion King” is that the film sticks to the original storyline. There is not much change from the original in regards to the storyline, which is different compared to the other Disney live action movies. The only substantial changes are to the music, which includes the addition of a song called “Spirit” by Beyoncé and an orchestral score written by Hans Zimmer. 

Disney fans everywhere can appreciate that the remake of “The Lion King” brought the movie and the franchise to a whole new level. While it made the characters look more realistic with the CGI animation, the focus shifts from making the scenes in the movie as expressive as possible to make it seem as realistic as possible. While most Disney fans can respect this new take on the original movie, some of the cute aspects that were beloved in the original movie are left out. It is unfortunate that Disney could not balance the realism and expression, as this would have made the remake really memorable.

Overall, “The Lion King” was a solid remake that put a modern spin on the 1994 original.