Photo from Rolling Stone

The Lion King is a CGI animated version of the 1994 original Disney film. The star studded cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Billy Eichner as Timon, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, and James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa. Everyone already knows the plot for the most part, it’s Hamlet with lions.

This film is pretty much a shot for shot remake of the 1994 original. The technology is great, the animals look very real and it’s kind of hard to believe that everything in this movie is CGI. But this movie is a clear cash grab. They involved a whole bunch of  famous people and have photo-realistic technology, but you are seeing the exact same movie with almost no changes. There’s literally the same camera transitions and zooms from the 2D animated film.

As I said before the photo-realistic technology is great and clearly looks amazing, but it does not contribute much to the environment. The animated version has vibrant colors that help make the film pop, here everything is earthy and not as appealing to look at other than to marvel at how real it looks. The facial expressions are another big component that elevates the original film that this version is sorely missing. Sure the animals may sound angry or upset, but they sure don’t look it.

Some of dialogue was hollow, especially between Beyoncé and Glover. They sounded like they were reading lines from a page than actually talking to each other. The dialogue is also almost exactly the same as the original. I swear James Earl Jones did not have a single new line in this film.

Eijofor is good as scar, but he is no Jeremy Irons. It may have also been because of the lack of facial expressions, but I did not find him as menacing and manipulative as Irons’ version. The film picks up when Eichner and Rogen enter as Timon and Pumbaa. They are the main reason that I ended up enjoying myself since they brought some freshness to the film. I also enjoyed John Oliver as Zazu and Keegan-Michael Key and Eric Andre as two of the hyenas.

I also liked the new renditions of the songs for the most part. The song, “Be Prepared,” was a disappointment however. And I didn’t care much for Beyonce’s new song that played in the film.

Overall, I did like The Lion King (2019) because I enjoyed the cast, the look, and already loved the story. However, I can’t excuse that this film’s laziness. It’s a hard line to tow with these remakes because fans generally revolt against changes, but they don’t watch to watch the exact same movie. This film suffers by playing it safe, it lacks originality, and begs the questions to why is was made in the first place other to make a billion dollars that Disney doesn’t need.

I give The Lion King (2019) a C.


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