Hakuna Matata everybody! In this review, I’ll be more or less confirming/repeating what has already been said by fans and critics alike (generally speaking), rather than contributing a new take – and that is, The Lion King is…fine.
After feeling responsible for his father’s death, Simba exiles himself from Pride Rock where he was lined up to become king. Upon befriending a meerkat and warthog, Simba grows up and is given a new perspective on living life, which will lead him back home to fight his evil uncle for the throne that was rightfully his.
It’s remarkable how far computer-generated animation has come, and The Lion King (2019) is a testament of that progress. The photo-realism of the animals, and how fluidly they blend and interact with the environment around them, is incredible. From the circle of life opening to the final fight between Simba and Scar, The Lion King is full of visual spectacle and looks like the $260 million movie it is.
I must admit, The Lion King did not play much of a part in my childhood, I’m not even sure I’ve seen the original animation from start to finish. So, going into this quote unquote live-action adaptation of the Disney classic, it was like watching a new film for me. And I can’t say I’m disappointed, but I’m not overly impressed either. Timon and Pumbaa, voiced by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen, are funny and charming. James Earl Jones brings his legendary voice back to the role of Mufasa. Beyoncé is a good singer. Uuuuuhhhhh…I’m starting to run out of positive things to say. I think the overwhelming feeling I felt when leaving the theater was “Yep, that was, in fact, The Lion King.”
When people say, “The 1994 version had more heart, the 2019 version is only a shell of the original,” I understand what they mean, and as I mentioned earlier, I haven’t even seen the original. The most likely cause of this sentiment is the film’s aim for a realistic style. In order to look real, the film loses a lot of its color and expression. While admiring the meticulously-detailed animation, I noticeably felt nothing. No goosebumps, no pulling of the heartstrings. Scar is reduced to a forgettable villain, Rafiki never hits Simba with his stick (one of the only scenes I remember, and was looking forward to), and, if you care for nitpicks, the realistic-looking animals talking looked kind of silly. If it weren’t for the popularity of the source material, if this was a stand-alone film, the first time the world was introduced to the story of The Lion King, I honestly believe the film would’ve flopped. Everybody would’ve called the concept stupid and went on their way. But because this is The Lion King, the globally-loved phenomenon, Disney has a product it knows will sell. Bottom line: Disney is a business and they want your money.
The Lion King is slimy, yet satisfying; I mean, at least it’s better than Dumbo. 6.5/10