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July 24, 2019

The Lion King (2019) --- “Be Prepared. The King Has Returned.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Young lion cub prince, Simba (JD McCrary) idolizes his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones) but not everyone in the kingdom loves the king or Simba. Mufasa’s brother and heir to the throne before Simba’s arrival, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has plans of his own. The pride-lands are soon ravaged by betrayal, tragedy, and drama, resulting in Simba’s exile. With the help of two curious and carefree new friends, Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), can Simba learn to forgive himself and gain the courage to take back what is rightfully his? 

     Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book 1 & 2) and written by Jeff Nathanson (POTC: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Disney’s The Lion King (2019) is the “live-action” film based on the 1994 Disney animated film and it is a splendor to behold. Now anyone who has seen the original animation knows how the story goes and what to expect and this film’s story is very much the same as the original. Director Favreau did a fantastic job with this film. He delivered a film that expanded upon an already well-known story and built an even deeper emotional connection with the characters. There were also a few extra new scenes that helped with the story’s transition between the film’s three acts. The story is beautiful, emotional, humorous, adventurous, and it will entertain both new and old fans of the film. 
     The film’s visual effects are impressive. The entire film was made up of CGI, meaning that even when you thought you were looking at real animals, you actually were not. To help give the CGI animals authenticity, the legendary Sir David Attenborough (Blue Planet and Planet Earth series, etc.) gave advice for animal behavior, movements, and sounds so as to remain as true as possible. For the musical sequences, the film remains true to the original film. The music score by Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk, Gladiator) is beautiful, inspirational, emotional, and nostalgic, and Elton John is also back contributing to the film with both old and new songs. There is a new sequence with Beyonce singing her new song “Spirit” and I felt that it not only fit in with the film but that it also fit in a lot better than Aladdin’s “Speechless.” The rest of the songs manage to stay the same with “Be Prepared” having the only significant difference and this is due to the two actors having two different voice styles. I don’t think that this will be a music score that will be easily forgotten.
     The voice performances were pretty solid throughout. JD McCrary (Teachers, KC: Undercover) as young Simba and Shahadi Wright-Joseph (Us) as young Nala are great and their voice remains clear while singing. Donald Glover (Atlanta, Solo: A Star Wars Film) as Simba and Beyoncé (Epic) as Nala are terrific, and their voices far exceeded my expectations, especially Glover. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange) delivers a great performance as Scar, especially since he had some pretty big shoes to fill after Jeremy Irons (Justice League) nailed his 1994 performance. With his deep rolling voice, Irons left audiences with mixed feelings, we loved him and hated him, plus his rendition of “Be Prepared” is iconic of the film. Billy Eichner (Angry Birds The Movie, Billy on the Street) and Seth Rogen (The Long Shot) were the perfect choices to play Timon and Pumba. I have no words to express how emotionally powerful James Earl Jones' voice is and how excited I am that he was able to reprise his role as Mufasa. The rest of the cast - Florence Kasumba (Black Panther), Alfre Woodard (Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events), Keegan-Michael Key (Toy Story 4), and Eric André - all delivered great supporting roles.
     Overall, The Lion King (2019) is the most recent “live-action” remake of the 1994 Disney film. The story is beautiful, emotional, humorous, adventurous, and it will entertain both new and old fans of the film. The visual effects are impressively realistic and the music is nostalgic. The voice performances were solid and delivered better than I expected. I highly recommend this film to both new and old fans, and if you have the options to see this in IMAX, 3D or both then I recommend that you do so as well.

Final Vote --- 9.5 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar

Aladdin (1992)
Aladdin (2019)
Anastasia (1997)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Brother Bear (2003)
Cinderella (1950)
Cinderella (2015)
The Emperor’s New Grove (2000)
Enchanted (2007)
Frozen (2013)
Frozen 2 (2019)
Lion King (1994)
Maleficent (2014)
Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil (2019)
Mulan (1998)
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
Snow White and the Huntsmen (2012)
Treasure Planet (2002)

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