I have loved all things Disney since I was little, so when Bert asked me if I would go see an early screening of the new live-action/CGI remake of THE LION KING, I pounced (like Nala). I couldn’t wait to see one of my favorite childhood movies come to life! I was 8 years old when I watched Disney’s animated version in the theater. I remember going with family and excitedly talking about “Hakuna Matata” afterwards. This time I got to take my husband, Jon, on a day-date to see the re-imagining of a movie we both grew up with (shout-out to Nancy for watching our kids).

THE LION KING review

First Impression of THE LION KING

Jon Favreau, who directed the remake of The Jungle Book (2016), also directed the remake of this classic and he didn’t disappoint. My husband and I both walked away from the theater with the same first impression: it was visually stunning! The animals are so realistic that it was easy to forget it wasn’t filmed live. My husband and I agreed that THE LION KING was our favorite live action remake yet. The opening scene left me enthralled and entranced by the beauty on the screen. The bonus of James Earl Jones reprising his voice work as Mufasa was the icing on the cake.

How does the live action film THE LION KING compare to the animated film?

THE LION KING Opening Scene

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of John Kani as Rafiki, Alfre Woodard as Sarabi and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As a ’90s’ kid who grew up with the animated film, the live action THE LION KING truly was like the 1994 animation came to life in many ways. They managed to honor the legacy of the original movie while updating jokes and fleshing out (pun intended) the story a little bit more. The dialogue is not verbatim, but they made sure to include well-known lines to give you all the nostalgia feels. We really enjoyed the comedic role Timon and Pumba played in the movie, even if it seemed to take a little bit for the voice actors, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen, to find their chemistry together.

Timon, Pumba and Simba THE LION KING 2019

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Due to the realistic appearance of the animals, some scenes are much more intense than they were in the animated version. I’m referring mostly to the graveyard scene, fight scenes, and (1994 Spoiler Alert) Mufasa’s death scene. It is even more heartbreaking watching it in CGI than in animation. I was on the verge of tears. But I’m a softy.

The live action version is definitely a more mature telling of a story that already has mature themes. Most notably, Scar and the hyenas are darker in this film. The animated version gives some amount of likability to the characters. You don’t like them at all this time. The hatred they feel for Mufasa and Simba is more tangible. Since CGI animals don’t emote well, the emotion of the moment really depends on the talent of the voice actors. As with the rest of the cast, the voice actors for Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the hyenas (Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key, and Eric Andre) were perfectly chosen for their revised portrayals.

the voice actors for Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the hyenas (Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key, and Eric Andre) (1)

Can my kids see the live action movie THE LION KING?

Just like the animated version is not suitable for some young children, this more realistic film is probably best suited for older elementary aged children and up. My husband said, “If they are capable of having a mature conversation about the death of a parent, then they should be able to see the movie.” If you are unsure, I recommend previewing the movie without your children first. Like I mentioned above, the realistic portrayal of the animals makes many scenes more intense, as do the darkened villains. You do, however, know your kids best, what movies they’ve already seen, and what they can handle. When in doubt: pre-screen.

Simb and Nala from THE LION KING 2019

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala and Donald Glover as Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What about the music?

I would be remiss not to mention the music. I was entranced during “The Circle of Life,” amused during “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” and I felt the love with chills down my arms during “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” I do have to say though that Beyonce did outshine and overshadow her duet partner (as could easily be expected). Scar’s song “Be Prepared” was definitely pared down, but it was fitting to do so. I also appreciated how they payed homage to the animated film during “Hakuna Matata.” During the credits, “He Lives in You” was performed in Swahili and it was perfect. I was happy with the music, overall!

If you grew up watching this movie, you’re going to love it!

THE LION KING movie poster

Disney’s “The Lion King,” directed by Jon Favreau, journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. Staying true to the classic story, Favreau utilizes pioneering film making techniques to bring the iconic characters to the big screen in a whole new way. Disney’s “The Lion King” opens in U.S. theaters on July 19, 2019.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyTheLionKing/

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Genre: Action-Adventure

U.S. Release Date: July 19, 2019

Cast: Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Florence Kasumba, Eric André, Keegan-Michael Key, JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph, with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and James Earl Jones.

Director: Jon Favreau

Producers: Jon Favreau, Jeffrey Silver, Karen Gilchrist

Screenplay by: Jeff Nathanson

 

Melissa Schrupp lives in Minnesota with her husband, 2 kids, and a crazy goldendoodle. She is a stay-at-home mom who blogs over at www.melissaschrupp.com as way to find her “Me, Before Mom.”