Release: 2019 (duh) Director: Jon Favreau
So I saw The Lion King (2019) last night. And may I just say right now how annoying it is that I need to put in extra work to add the year to movies now? Every new Disney release seems to be designed to be confusing. “Hey, wanna watch Dumbo?” “Doesn’t that have a terrifying elephant scene?” “No no, you’re thinking of the classic 1941 one, the new one is…”
Where was I? Oh ya, the new Lion King. The problem is there isn’t a whole lot to say about this one. It really has one box to check, do you like the original? If the answer is yes, then you’ll like this one. It really is just The Lion King 2.0…without being a sequel. That being said I do like this version. But, again, I checked off the first box. I love the original, and this one is basically (though not exactly) a shot for shot remake. Is that a bad thing? Really that is up to you.
It starts off exactly how you’d think. Honestly if it started any other way there would be riots in the streets, and there isn’t any right now so thats a plus. And right away its absolutely spectacular. The framing is spot on, and even if you haven’t seen the original in a while you just know that these animals are moving in the exact way you remember them. It really is something to behold, and brought a tear to my eye. And the movie never lets up from this wonder. It looks photo realistic throughout with no letting up, every shot is so good that it’s hard to think it’s not actual animals in a real setting.
The casting is, as you probably already noticed, spot on. The return of James Earl Jones, John Oliver as Zazu, I really like JD McCrary as young Simba, and Donald Glover as older Simba, they are all great. I do think Beyonce stands out a bit too much as Nala, and it shows during “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” as they sing together, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar just doesn’t have that same menace as Jeremy Irons. But the stand outs are Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan as Timon and Pumba respectively. They fit those roles so well, but it may be because they got the most leway in the script to do their own lines. It gives them a better flow together and some lines that are not in the original. Overall, there are no complaints when it comes to casting or the look of the movie.
So what’s the problem? Why am I not gushing about this movie, as I was with Aladdin (2019) (see, I hate that i need to add the year.) Because this is just the original with a new paint job. Because the movie goes for a more “realistic” style, some of the songs are not as extravagant. For example (and if any of this is a spoiler to you…you have lived under a rock and shouldn’t be on the internet anyway) during “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” in the original Simba somehow got all the animals to form a giant pillar with hippos supporting giraffes and those are holding up rhinos and so on so forth. It’s crazy and bright colors and at the end they lose Zazu so they can go to the shadow place, or elephant graveyard. In this one…well you can’t do that. Sure it still looks incredible because that’s just the look of the film but the extra jazz of it is lost. So it brings up the question, if this movie is just the original with better looking animation but without the zanniness that you get with 2D, why watch this over the original?
I want to emphasis that I do really like this movie. I think it’s a technical marvel to behold and the casting is inspired with the right touch of nostalgia. There is definitely worse ways to spend your money at the theaters right now. I find it a tab bit unnecessary, when this leaves theaters and you’re sitting at home with the option to watch this or The Lion King (1994) (that gets annoying fast) then honestly I don’t know why I’d go with the new one. The original just has everything going for it plus the crazy visuals, the new one just as really cool visuals without the craziness.