A mixed opinion about The Lion King 2019 (review)
Picture it! It’s 1994 and your mom buys you The Lion King. A coming of age story about a young overzealous cub ready to inherit the Pride Kingdom from his father. His inability to be patient and assess situations causes him to get into some sticky situations that his father has to get him out of. His naivety ends up causing the death of his father at the hands of his jealous uncle. And, after years of self-reflection, and a little help from love, he returns to his pride to release them from poverty and begin a new.
That’s the story of The Lion King from 1994 and the “live-action” remake of 2019.
The animated film was amazing all those years ago and still is. Because of that my first instinct was to avoid seeing the remake at all costs.
Why reinvent the wheel, when all you have to do is buy a tire?
At least that was my opinion until I watched the film. The younger generation needed to see this story. The updated rendition carried the same charm and heartbreak with a few sprinkles of originality.
Some things threw me off. Like the clear inflection of the vocal actors, but the lack of expressions on the lion’s faces. But, because this isn’t an animated film per-say, I understand the challenge to add expression. I did appreciate the actors paying homage to the classic, yet adding their personality to the characters as well.
The CGI was great, the soundtrack remains amazing, and the cast did a great job. The tension between Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor)and Mufasa (James Earl Jones) will always be tragic. The ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ duet between Nala (Beyonce) and Simba (Donald Glover) was beautiful. And I can’t forget to mention the hyenas, played by Florence Kasuma, Keegan-Michael Key, and Eric Andre. They were really funny as well.
Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner as Timon and Pumbaa were a highlight of comedy. They started singing ‘Be Our Guest’ from Beauty and the Beast during the bait scene. It caught me off guard with delight.
The Lion King is an epic story and now it can live on for generations to come.
I certainly wished that Disney would give credit to Osamu Tezuka. Not going to lie, I used to love that movie as a kid, but I have issues with it when I grew up. I didn’t like the racist undertones with the hyenas, the elephant graveyard eerily paralleling Shark Island in the Namibian Genocide or the Congolese Genocide as punishment, or how Africa is misrepresented. Researching things like how Disney trademarked the phrase “Hakuna Matata” which is cultural appropriation or how they withheld royalties from the South African singer Solomon Linda who was swindled from making “Mbube” when it was plagiarized as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” really made me shake my head (they cover that in the Netflix documentary The Lion’s Share where his surviving family sues the licensing company and Disney). It’s fine if you liked that movie franchise, but we’ll have to agree to disagree here.