Saturday, July 13, 2019

Non-Spoiler Movie Review: The Lion King (2019)

Hard to believe that it has been 25 years since the original, animated version of The Lion King first roared into theaters. Now, Jon Favreau brings us a new vision, a "live action" version if you will. The vision is so stunning that you will think this was a DisneyNature release. It seriously looks that photorealistic!

From the music, to iconic shots and most of the original dialogue will hit you with all the nostalgic feels! And we all know the story, but here is a quick recap just in case. Simba (voiced by JD McCrary and later Donald Glover) is worried about filling the paws of his father Mufasa (voiced magnificently once again by James Earl Jones). But Scar, Mufasa's evil brother (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor), is determined to kill them both so he can take the place as king. As Mufasa's fate is sealed, Simba grows up with the help of Pumbaa (voiced by Seth Rogen) and Timon (voiced by Billy Eichner), who are scene stealers!

There is a stand out performance by Beyonce as older Nala. Donald Glover and Beyonce deliver a phenomenal version of Can You Feel The Love Tonight. I wish there was more from Alfre Woodard who voices Sarabi, John Oliver who voices Zazu and John Kani that voices Rafiki. Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a wonderfully chilling Scar. The entire voice cast is exceptional and can easily rival the original.

Han Zimmer delivers a new take on his Oscar-winning score from the original film. There are two new songs. Beyonce has a new powerfully uplifting song halfway through the movie called Spirit. Sir Elton John has a new son over the end credits. But most of the original songs are here and are done more than enough justice. The opening Circle of Life packs just as much of an emotional impact as ever. 

One of the things I loved about this vision of the story is that there was clearly a conscience effort to portray the animals as realistically as possible. Other than the fact that these animals talk, the mannerisms will make you stop and try to convince your brain that none of this is real. On the other hand, this attention to realism also means a minimum when it comes to facial expressions.

In the end, this vision of The Lion King is an astonishing visual feast for the eyes. The film is filled with heart and a rush of nostalgia. Don't walk but stampede your way to the theaters starting July 19th!

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