The Lion King Review – The Lion King Returns to Claim its Throne

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The Lion King Review – The Lion King is an incredible adaptation that captures the magic of the original and still feels brand new

Disney has basically brought the 90’s back. This summer, we got  Aladdin, Toy Story, and soon we will have Lion King again. But I have to say, Disney is also bringing back the magic. Premiering July 19, 2019 across the country, The Lion King will return to theaters in a live-action adaptation. Directed by Jon Favreau, who has experience tackling such a daunting task with his live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, The Lion King seeks to reclaim the throne as one of Disney’s most beloved masterpieces. In this adaptation, the beloved characters will all be portrayed by new actors, minus the iconic James Earl Jones who returns as the regal Mufasa. Simba and Nala are voiced by Donald Glover and Beyoncé, their cub counterparts are voiced by  JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph, and if you’d like the see the rest of the cast and crew check out the film’s IMDB Page.

I struggled with how to write a spoiler-free synopsis, as the original film is so iconic, that I’m pretty sure whoever is reading this has seen it. I mean I can say, imagine Hamlet with lions, or simply if The Lion King looked like the series Planet Earth. However, I’ll simplify it as best I can, because I’m a professional. The Lion King is about a young lion prince, Simba, who is poised to become king. Due to some trickery on behalf of his uncle, Simba’s ascension to the throne is exponentially rushed, and Simba is unable to face the situation. Without Simba his uncle, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), is set to take the throne. Scar is not the king his brother Mufasa was and reigns the kingdom to ruins. It is up to Simba to face his past to become the king he was born to be.

The Lion King captures the magic and the wonder of the original and still finds a way to feel brand new. The movie does a fabulous job recreating real-life versions of the iconic original throughout the entire film. If you can picture the shot from the animated movie, you will undoubtedly relive that same sense of, what I can only call, pure awe when you watch the movie. It is, in every sense of the word, a visual masterpiece. From the opening scene, you are instantly transported into the jungle and left in awe of the beauty of nature. CGI or not, it looks like an episode of Planet Earth. It is the real-life equivalent of the animated original and, while nearly recreating it shot for shot, stands tall on its own as one of the most beautifully displayed cinematic openings of recent times. On top of the grand scope, the minute details are extraordinary. If you look at Simba closely, you will see he has fur patterns from Sarabi and more structural features of Mufasa. Then there’s also the scars on Scar that are spaced perfectly to the size of Mufasa’s paw. The attention to detail even in the grand scope of the film is nothing short of magnificent.

The Lion King boasts a star-studded cast that set the expectations high. But, woah; the cast delivers. From his first line as Simba, Donald Glover makes his presence felt. From the first note, you feel a complete change of energy that caused the entire theater to cheer. Beyoncé didn’t have quite the same opening as Nala, not for lack of presence, but just contextually it didn’t allow it. However, when Nala meets up with Simba, both he and Donald Glover had to play catch up. Their chemistry perfectly matches that of their animated versions. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Scar was miraculously menacing and skeevy. His voice emanates evil mastermind in the best way possible. You can’t help but love to hate Scar because of Ejiofor’s performance.

Where I feel the film surpasses the original is with the secondary roles: Zazu (John Oliver), Timon (Billy Eichner), Pumba (Seth Rogen), Kamari (Keegan-Michael Key), and Azizi (Eric Andre) specifically. These characters provide much of the comic relief, and even though I know a lot of it is because I am not five years old and understand the jokes better, the jokes are better this time around. Kamari and Azizi have an angry straight man and dunce relationship that will have audiences rolling. Key’s annoyed straight man is perfectly matched and countered with Andre’s earnest awkwardness. Then there’s Zazu, who is basically just John Oliver. He delivers news and does it hilariously. The jokes are fast-paced, subtle, and brilliantly crafted. Forewarning, many are animals puns, so if punning isn’t for you, you may not enjoy Zazu as much as I did. Then, there’s Timon and Pumba. Eichner and Rogen’s chemistry is explosive and comedic gold. Billy Eichner’s Timon goes from anxious prey to con-man on a dime. Rogen’s Pumba is earnest and just straight lovable. These characters are so good, it will likely make you want to buy merchandise.

The Lion King will always hold a very special place in my heart, and I know I am in no way alone in this. For many in my age group, it is one of the first movies we remember seeing in theaters. It is the first movie I cried at. It was the reason I first went to Disneyland. I was skeptical and worried for this remake. But, believe me when I say, the opening sequence instantly removed all doubt. Jon Favreau’s adaptation of The Lion King is a loving homage to the original. It is gorgeously reimagined and heart-warmingly recreated. I did not think this film was necessary, but I will forever be thankful it exists. Fans of the original will be able to relive the magic and share it with a new generation. My Lion King review gets a 4/5.

 

The Lion King
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TLDR

The Lion King will always hold a very special place in my heart, and I know I am in no way alone in this. For many in my age group, it is one of the first movies we remember seeing in theaters. It is the first movie I cried at. It was the reason I first went to Disneyland. I was skeptical and worried for this remake. But, believe me when I say, the opening sequence instantly removed all doubt. Jon Favreau’s adaptation of The Lion King is a loving homage to the original. It is gorgeously reimagined and heart-warmingly recreated. I did not think this film was necessary, but I will forever be thankful it exists. Fans of the original will be able to relive the magic and share it with a new generation.

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