THE LION KING 2019 REVIEW: (written by JK)
THE BASIC PLOT:
If you’ve seen the original 1994 animated Lion King, you pretty much know the plot already. If not, how have you not seen it?
Although this movie basically follows the same plot threads as the original animated movie, it’s somehow 29 minutes longer. Basically the story starts with a young
lion prince called Simba who ends up tricked into inadvertently causing his father’s death. He flees and befriends a Meercat & Warthog duo and lives a life without
worries. Then one day in the future, his childhood friend appears and tries to convince him to come back to overthrow his uncle. It’s pretty much furry Hamlet.
The characters are pretty similar to what you remember from the animated Lion King, but there are some slight differences. Zazu seems to be a different species and 2
of the Hyena trio are renamed, but other than that, they’re largely the same. The Hyenas do feel more menacing though, giving more of a sense of danger and less comic
relief for the most part, which is nice (though I would’ve liked more comic moments with them). One major change is that Scar has an added connection to Sarabi, from mentioning
she chose Mufasa over him, to inviting her to feast during his reign, adding more parallels to Claudius from Hamlet. The Lionesses also seem to be more willing to fight back,
and we see more of the horrors of Scar’s reign (expanded on during the events that brought Nala back to Simba).
One large complaint is that many of the moments are ruined by the lack of facial expression. It reminds of the older talking-animal movies where they just stuck peanut butter
in the animal’s mouths to make them look like they’re talking as opposed to actual CG Motion Capture. Although real animals don’t show expressions as easily as humans, it’s
been proven it can be done well in the past for animals or animal-like creatures (like Aslan from Narnia, the Pokemon from Detective Pikachu, and the Jungle Book from the
same people that brought this movie), making this even more odd for Disney.
Like mentioned in the Basic Plot section, it pretty much goes the same way as the animated movie from 25 years prior, but many of the earlier parts of the film feel a
bit stretched out to fill time, and slightly boring as the animated version just put in the movie what was needed for the story without any extra fluff. This one did
expand on some parts, including Rafiki’s discovery that Simba’s alive (sadly involving a gratuitous amount of time spent on a dung beetle). It also changed other scenes
(like Mufasa’s cloud spirit just being a storm cloud, or shortening his death, cutting Rafiki’s “It’s in the past” speech to Simba). Some parts of the film are less
censored, which adds to the scenes and adapts the movie to a more current audience (such as Scar’s eventual Demise).
The 1st place is a landscape known as Pride Rock, filled with plants, grass and…rock. Standard African landscape, but looks very good. It pales in comparison to
the home he makes with Timon and Pumba (the Meerkat & Warthog), which is filled with large, luscious plantlife, teeming with life and far more colourful, making it
quite believable that Simba chooses that place to make home for a large chunk of his life. When Scar takes over, the Pride Lands sort of turn into a wasteland reminiscent
of Mad Max or the Fallout games (sans buildings and other human constructs), which is odd considering that most of the herbivores are killed off – leaving less animals
that would eat the plantlife.
The music is also pretty similar. Many of the songs from the original movie are present, along with “insert Beyonce song here”. Sadly, “Be Prepared” is shortened,
but “Hakuna Matata” also has one of the aforementioned lower censoring standards (even making a joke about it during the song). Most other songs are pretty much just
cover songs lyric for lyric. Although not in one of the songs, there’s also a fun little gag referencing another of Disney’s musical movies to listen out for later on.
Aside from Mufasa, every character has a different voice actor, making some of the line delivery a tad jarring if you’re used to the old
voices. Scar sounds quite different, but Timon and Pumba are highlights (I thought Seth Rogen would do a good job when I first learned he would voice Pumba, he did).
Like mentioned before the Hyenas feel more menacing, and part of that is thanks to their line deliveries sounding much darker and menacing (moreso than even Scar in
Although this is an okay movie on it’s own merit, it kinda fails compared to it’s shorter, animated counterpart, as the older movie makes better use of it’s time and
this new version gets more interesting towards the latter half of the movie. The 1st half feels a bit too slow for my liking, and probably wouldn’t grab the admiration
of younger audiences like the original.
Some of the changes are appreciated (like during the timeskip, more than 2 characters age), but other changes could’ve been handled better (such as Scar appearing to punch
Mufasa off the cliff, stormcloud Mufasa & the extended dung shot). If you want a good adaptation, you’re probably better watching the original Lion King (Though that’s a
loose adaptation of Kimba the White Lion, despite Disney’s protests).
This review is the opinion of one individual and doesn’t equal fact or the opinions of others, as every opinion is unique.