The Lion King Review

“The movie does a lot of things well, but two things that were obviously missing were emotion and identity. “

Everyone has that one movie that they associate with their childhood more than any other.  For many in my parents’ generation it was Star Wars.  The captivating story, unique characters, and amazing visual effects that brought George Lucas’ vision to life was the movie of a generation for some.  As a 90’s baby, and someone who enjoys a good musical number, Disney’s The Lion King was probably the most memorable movie of my childhood. 

John Favreau’s 2019 remake of the 90’s classic cartoon is a very familiar movie.  As expected, we follow the young lion, Simba, through his turbulent childhood, existential crisis, and conflict with his uncle Scar.   The movie does a lot of things well, but two things that were obviously missing were emotion and identity. 

Don’t get me wrong, the movie is beautiful – and realistic.  I mean, as long as you aren’t nitpicking at the missing buttholes and gender parts, the characters look like they could be found out in the open savannah.  But is that a good thing?  I guess that is up to what the studio was trying to accomplish.  Adding this film to a roster of “live-action” remakes alongside Cinderella, Aladdin, Dumbo, and others is misrepresenting it a bit.  Afterall, the movie is 100 percent animated and cannot be considered live-action by any stretch of the imagination.  So, why go through the trouble of making a movie so hyper realistic, while removing all emotion and expression from the characters’ faces?

Adding to the fact that the animals showed no emotion in the film, the voice acting made no attempt to make up for it.  The cast included big names like Beyoncé (Nala), Donald Glover (Simba), Eric Andre (Azizi) & Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), and that’s all I could think about when a character opened his/her mouth.  This is especially true with Beyoncé.  Nala is literally just Beyoncé talking normally. 

“Perhaps the cast member they forgot to hire was the narrator; David Attenborough could have turned The Lion King into Planet Earth: The Musical.

Now, it may seem like I really hated this movie.  But that’s not true at all.  There are some very redeeming qualities, and I think they are worth noting.  Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa are a pair that I really enjoyed in this movie.  They do some classic Timon and Pumbaa stunts, lines and songs, but they also crack new jokes and overall have a good presence on screen.  Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a great villain, and I thought Chiwetel did a pretty good job of voicing him.  The cinematography was also very beautiful, especially when they wanted Scar to look extra villainous.   

Overall, I think The Lion King was a win, if only a weak one.  It was certainly a win at the box office with over $1.4 billion in revenue worldwide.  However, this movie has an identity crisis from start to finish, and that caused a beautiful movie to feel kind of flat.  Perhaps the cast member they forgot to hire was the narrator; David Attenborough could have turned The Lion King into Planet Earth: The Musical.

Branson Greer | Senior Movie Noob

4 comments

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