The latest addition to Disney’s collection of remakes is sure to leave viewers with no worries.
“The Lion King” roared into theaters on July 19, 2019, 25 years after the animated classic’s release in 1994. \
Furthermore, the film earned over $1.4 billion in the box office, but scored low with critics, with its highest score of 7.1/10 coming from IMBd.
The story features Simba, a young lion who learns that he will eventually grow to rule the fictional African kingdom known as the Pride Lands.
His uncle, Scar, is jealous of the prince and his brother, Mufasa.
He attempts to have the future king and the prince’s betrothed exterminated by hyenas.
Scar assumes the throne after assassinating Mufasa and exiling Simba, permitting hyenas to mingle in the Pride Lands with the lions and all the other animals.
Growing up in a large desert oasis with adoptive “uncles” Timon and Pumbaa, Simba must remember his true place in the world and take a stand against those who don’t belong.
In my eyes, the cast did an exceptional job recreating some of the emotion that was lost in the transformation to realism from 2D cartoon animation.
This loss of theatrics marks the main complaint of multiple critics. James Earl Jones performed an even better Mufasa than he did in 1994.
JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph played their roles of Young Simba and Nala quite well, and the same goes for Donald Glover and Beyoncé claiming Adult Simba and Nala, respectively.
The rest of the actors also did very well, with only one real exception being Chiwetel Ejiofor.
I do miss Jeremy Irons’ Scar. Ejiofor just didn’t evoke the same slippery, manipulative tones that Irons did in 1994.
I loved that some scenes were enhanced and new ones were included, such as Nala sneaking away from Pride Rock, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and especially the ending of the film when the hyenas change alliances.
The hyena trio played the comic relief role much better than they did in 1994, using a running gag over plain and simple slapstick, especially since slapstick isn’t exactly accomplishable using photo-realistic animals, as well as being a much more threatening presence due to the realism.
One thing that bothered me severely was the absolute butchering of “Be Prepared.”
As my second favorite number from the original, it felt like an insult that Disney treated the song the way that they did.
However, I will note that the 2019 version does have a much more menacing tone to it than the original.
Once I got over the shock of how different it was, the low, repetitive beats, the crescendo of the hyena’s chants, and Scar’s deeper, booming voice gave me goosebumps.
Overall, the film was pleasantly surprising in that it’s not as much of a disappointment as it could have been, like other live-action remakes by Disney.
For example, “Dumbo” from earlier this year deviated greatly from the plot of the original, adding many prominent human characters that did not exist in the film’s 1945 release.
Unlike that film, 2019’s “Lion King” reimagined a beloved story without relying on a new plot while giving the Disney classic a makeover.
At the end of the day, the movie told the story that it was supposed to and did the job fantastically.
I can only hope that future Disney live-action remakes can keep the same standard.