Review: The Lion King (2019) – Stunning visuals but other than that… meh

simba live action lion king 2019 remake

The Lion King 2019 remake – Movie Review


Review video


Written review

Disney’s remake of Kimba the White Lion… uh, I mean The Lion King is directed by Tony Stark’s driver, Jon Favreau, who was the director for Iron Man 1, 2 and the Jungle Book remake, which is the only live-action Disney remake I really liked so far.

So everyone knows the story of the 1994 Disney animation right? It’s basically about a pack of lions that rule an animal kingdom they call the Pride Lands. And somehow there are only three male lions in the whole place. One of them named Mufasa is the leader of the pack and the king of Pride Lands. His evil jealous brother, Scar, wants to take his place but the next in line is Mufasa’s son, Simba.

Scar attempts to murder them both with the help of a pack of hyenas who’re basically outsiders and at war against the lions. And there begins the journey of little Simba who must survive and grow up to be the king he’s born to be. In case any of you young ones have never seen the 1994 animation or Kimba, I shall not spoil it.

If you watched or read my reviews on the other Disney remakes, you’d know I hated most of them. But I didn’t hate this one. I thought it was okay. Is it better than the 1994 classic? Apart from the visuals, no.

Although I wouldn’t call this a “live-action” remake per se, the visuals are truly photo-realistic. The animals look very real and some of the animals even move like the real thing. They’re adorable. Baby Simba is extremely cute. But they are not expressive enough. There’s a lack of facial expression. And when the characters talk and sing, their mouths don’t really move accordingly. My girlfriend said the dialogues don’t really feel like it’s coming from them and I agree. It’s just like watching the animals on the National Geographic channel absent genitals.

Without the voice acting, we wouldn’t know what they’re thinking, feeling and even doing at times. Most of the vocal performances are good but still no where as great as the original. Not sure why they could get the original voice of Mufasa, James Earl Jones, back but not the others such as Jeremy Irons who definitely sounded far more menacing and compelling as Scar than Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The new renditions of the music are good too but the new song Spirit by Beyonce, I’m not sure. Sounds like a weird version of Circle of Life to me. Her voice as the adult Nala is meh. Almost anyone else could’ve done the same. Donald Glover and JD McCrary are pretty good as adult and young Simba.

But the ones I really enjoyed were Pumbaa and Timon, voiced by Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner respectively. They are genuinely hilarious and I laughed the loudest during that one scene where they referenced another Disney film’s character and song. They are like the best thing about this remake.

Only minor changes were made to the characters like the hyenas being less annoyingly stupid now. The rest of the characters and the story are pretty much identical to the original but without substance. The development of the main characters and their relationships are much, much weaker. Maybe it’s due to the lack of facial expression from the photorealistic characters or perhaps the execution of the interactions are rushed. I can’t quite pinpoint the reason.

Even the iconic emotional scenes are no where near as powerful as the original. And I haven’t rewatched the original again since I was a kid so this remake had fresh bullets to hit me with the heartbreak but it failed. The only feeling I got was a bit of nostalgia perhaps.

In overall, this remake is not as good as the original and again, like I always say, what’s the point of a remake if it’s not going to improve much from the original apart from showing off the current visual effect capabilities? But all right, at least it’s not as bad as most of the other Disney remakes. Not a 100% cashgrab. Maybe only 80% (ha-ha). Cashing on your nostalgia.

Nonetheless, I did like that they address a few things well like why other animals agree to be ruled by lions even though they do eat them. I like that the lions are thinner for a reason. Keeping the balance and not over hunting are the responsibilties of the ruler. But Scar still looks skinny years after he’s overfed. And the hyenas towards the end… some things just didn’t make sense to me.

But anyway, just Hakuna Matata while watching it and you’ll probably still enjoy it.

*Rating is given in the review video above. Please watch it, give it a thumbs up and subscribe the channel if you haven’t already. Thanks for your kind support!

lion king 2019 review movie poster malaysia keyart

Based on: Kimba the White Lion Disney’s 1994 animated film “The Lion King”

Genre: Family musical adventure drama comedy
Running Time: 119 minutes
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenwriter: Jeff Nathanson
Cast: Donald Glover, Beyonce Knowles, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, John Oliver, John Kani, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner

Malaysia Release Date: 17 July 2019
Rated: U
Local Distributor: (no info)
Production: Walt Disney Pictures, Fairview Entertainment

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