Lion King (2019)
OK, it doesn't have quite the emotional impact of the
knock-your-socks-off original. But
this re-make is worth watching, anyway.
First, because the story is still endearing, and second, because
the technology of making the animals “real” instead of animated is
itself worth the price of admission. Besides,
there's an incredible cast of voices behind this version, and their
collective talent makes for an impressive experience.
Director Jon Favreau, dealing with a now-classic “circle of
life” drama, keeps things from getting too heavy-handed with regular
insertions of light-heartedness, from the young Simba, the lion cub,
playing with his Dad, Mufasa (James Earl Jones) to the inane
pronouncements of the Dodo bird, Zazu (John Oliver), to the comic antics
of the meerkat (Billy Eichner) and the warthog (Seth Rogen).
But the star of the show is still Simba (Donald Glover), now
full-grown, but hiding out from his responsibilities, and refusing to take
the mantle of leadership that he knows is his.
His childhood friend Nala (Beyonce) encourages him, once she
finally discovers where he is. But
many things have changed in the homeland of their “pride.”
Mustafa's evil brother, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has taken over,
with the help of his henchmen, the wild hyenas.
Scar is cunning, deceitful, and manipulative, and unfortunately,
it's the most interesting role in the entire production.
Yes, it's a celebration of Africa, in an idyllic setting for the
animals before humankind came along to alter the landscape. But “The
Lion King” is also an individual morality tale, where the central
character has to decide whether he wants to just waste his life doing as
little as possible, or if he really wants to make something of himself.
That road, of course, is a lot more difficult, and fraught with
many dangers. But we revel in
watching Simba becoming the best version of himself, and there's a bit of
a challenge there for all the viewers, even if they aren't
Yes, of course, it's family-friendly, because it's Disney, but
remember that the evil is very real, and there is violence (though the
action sequences fade before they get too bloody).
It might even be too “intense” for very small children.
But the re-imagining of a familiar favorite is definitely worthy of
a viewing, if for no other reason than to enjoy the incredibly realistic
imaging. Hakuna matata.