"The Lion King (2019)" Movie Review

Updated on July 28, 2019
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

The Lion King
The Lion King | Source

There was once a time that Disney was widely regarded as a paragon of ingenuity and creativity. Chief among the surest things in Hollywood were the latest Disney film’s fantastic animation, super-memorable characters, and brilliant story. And starting with 1989’s The Little Mermaid, the end-of-the-century Disney renaissance was chock-full of many, many iconic moments (including many in the original Lion King).

So what the heck has happened in the past ten years? Starting with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010, we’ve been subjected to at least seven (depending on how you count them) live-action remakes of Disney animated classics—some decent, some abysmal. This remake of The Lion King can be stuffed squarely in the middle. While it does have its moments, particularly with the stunning (though entirely computer-generated) cinematography and the vocal performances of some (but not all) of the cast, overall there’s no question it’s a misfire.

In the plus column, it’s directed by Jon Favreau, who helmed 2016’s magical The Jungle Book remake—by far the best of the Disney re-do bunch. His team’s ability to take pixels and turn them into something utterly believable, whether it’s the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro or the smallest hair on Simba’s snout, is legitimately incredible.

This extreme realism is also the movie’s biggest detriment, however. Since it seems like we’re gazing at real animals, The Lion King almost ends up playing like some kind of bizarre David Attenborough-narrated documentary. Even worse is the added intensity and darkness that results. Not only will it be unwelcome among the younger set, at least a half-dozen kids at my screening went running for the lobby immediately after the film’s two horror-movie quality jump scares. (And that doesn’t count the tears that erupted at Mufasa’s death.) This is not a kid-friendly, fun way to spend a weekend afternoon by any stretch.

Another issue comes with the fact that this Lion King follows the original 1994 film to a T. The vast majority in fact, plays like an almost shot-for-shot regurgitation. It’s admirable, sure, in terms of the talent of the animators, but at it also begins to reek of unoriginality after only 15 minutes.

An hour into the film, we finally get a much-needed zap from a defibrillator with the arrival of Timon and Pumbaa. Voiced by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen respectively—both of whom knock it way, way out of the park—the pair are able to offset the stale characters that led up to that point with a combo of well-written humor and sparkling improv.

As for the rest of the cast, Chiwetel Ejiofor drew the short straw and earned the unenviable task of voicing Scar. And though (to be fair) he does just fine in his own right, he barely holds a candle to the iconic Jeremy Irons, who originated the role. As Mufasa, James Earl Jones is the only actor to return, and he does his usual stellar work, but the same can’t be said for Donald Glover as Simba, John Oliver as Zazu, and Beyoncé as Nala. Their un-enthusiastic performances make it seem they were each hired for their name recognition and not much else. Beyoncé, however, does lend her amazing voice to two songs for the soundtrack, including “Sprit”, which she co-wrote specifically for the movie.

There are obviously creative and interesting ways to retell the story of The Lion King (look no further than Broadway), but this uninspired live-action re-do is not it. Save yourself the time and just pull out your ol’ collectors-edition VHS tape of the original instead. It’ll allow you to remember not only a better a movie but also a better time, when Disney was a creative force to be reckoned with and not just another studio content to throw the concept of originality out with the daily trash.


2.5/5 stars

'The Lion King' trailer


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      11 months ago

      Good review. This movie was no where near as good as the original. This movie felt completely unnecessary to me.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)