Monday, July 22, 2019

Movie Review: "The Lion King" (2019)

Director: Jon Favreau
Year: 2019
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

A young lion must find the courage to realize his destiny and to regain his rightful place as king from the evil uncle who murdered his father and stole his throne.

Simba (JD McCrary) and Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) stare each other down in the Pride Lands in Jon Favreau's 2019 Disney film The Lion King
"Your line doesn't affect anyone else's line." (Image Source)
Lions and lions and lions, oh my, and this time, they are real...ish! "The Lion King" (2019) is directed by Jon Favreau, who has directed movies like "Iron Man," "Elf," and 2016's "The Jungle Book." The screenplay is written by Jeff Nathanson and is based on the 1994 animated film of the same name. It tells the story of a young lion named Simba (JD McCrary), the future king of the Pride Lands. His evil uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), however, has plans to take the throne for himself. Scar murders Simba's father Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and chases Simba out of his home, telling him to never return. Simba is found and raised by a meerkat and warthog named Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), who teach him to forget his past. Years later, Simba (Donald Glover) has grown up, and when his childhood best friend Nala (Beyoncé) comes looking for him, he must remember who he is and fulfill his destiny by taking his rightful place as king to save his home from his uncle's tyranny.
Movie still for the 2019 film "The Lion King" where Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) walk with a young Simba throughout the savanna
"Everybody is somebody, even a nobody." (Image Source)
25 years ago in 1994, Disney released "The Lion King," which is regarded by many people as their best animated feature of all time. Now with some updated technologies at their disposal, Disney has decided to revisit that same story with photorealistic CGI that could be mistaken for live-action if we didn't know that animals weren't able to talk. The visuals are the best part of this remake. They are absolutely immaculate. We have come a long way from the days of computer-animated abominations like the Scorpion King in "The Mummy Returns." Beyond the visuals, what we have in Jon Favreau's incarnation of the material is a familiar story told by new actors with minimal changes from the original. When we say "minimal," we mean it. The scenes, (almost all of) the songs, and the narrative itself remain the same. The only differences are a couple of minor/updated changes in dialogue, one tweaking of a song, the elongation of a couple sequences that feature more running and more showing off of the scenery, and one or two added scenes that are new-to-this-version, but that's really it. It's almost entirely the same film! That won't work for some people, but for us, we liken it to going to the reprisal of a play that we've already seen. Sure, the cast is different, and yeah, some of the costumes and sets have changed, but it's still going to be entertaining because it's so similar to the original. We love 1994's version of "The Lion King," and we enjoyed this incarnation for the most part. The lions might not be real, but the emotions we felt while watching it certainly are. It doesn't matter to us that real lions don't have eyebrows, which makes it hard to deliver dramatic facial expressions like they do in the cartoon, but we are still able to get some emotion through the delivery of the actors voicing the characters.
The Lion King 2019 movie still where Beyonce's Nala and Donald Glover's Simba drink water out of a lake and sing Can You Feel the Love Tonight together
"A true king searches for what he can give." (Image Source)
Let's be real: this version of "The Lion King" isn't as good as the original, and this fact remains unchanged for all of Disney's live-action reboots thus far. It might be unnecessary, but really, what movie is necessary when push comes to shove? 2019's version wasn't really made for people like me and BigJ, who were 5, 7, 10, or 13 when 1994's "The Lion King" was released. It is made for our generation's kids, the ones who are 5, 7, 10, or 13 now. We know that nostalgia is a powerful drug, so you really just have to watch 2019's version for yourself to see where your feelings lie. We had a pretty good time watching this remake, even if it meant watching Mufasa die all over again and having to dig up those deeply-buried feelings we pushed down into the depths of our souls so we could forget that our parents scarred us for life by letting us watch one of the saddest deaths in cinematic history WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!????!?!!!? For those of us who are still attached to the original, no worries, it will always be there for us to watch and enjoy at any time. And, if you do have kids, you can show it to them and let them decide which version they like better.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.2/10
RT Rating: ~53%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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