The Lion King review (2019 “live action” movie)

The Lion King 2019 movie is the “live action” (not really) adaptation of the famous Disney animated classic from 1994. Now we can fall in love again with Mufasa, Simba, Pumbaa and Timon with the power of CGI that recreate with incredible realism the majestic animal kingdom in África. The following are my impressions of the movie (spoiler warning).

The movie director, Jon Favreau, gave us a nostalgic tribute of “The Lion King”, reproducing every iconic scene of the original animated film. He make us relive everything we felt back in 1994 following the amazing adventure of Simba, however, there is no extra details or new scenes in the plot. Maybe Favreau didn’t want to risk too much adding new things to a story so loved and known worldwide, but it would have been interesting.

The truth is that at a musical level, this adaptation seemed incredible. Not only for the impeccable interpretations of famous songs like “Circle of life”, “Hakuna Matata”, “Can you feel de love”, and “The Lion sleeps tonight”, also the orchestra musicalization in general that accompanies each scene is very well achieved. In this sense, this new version of “The Lion King” works splendidly like a musical.

About the performances, I can openly say that the film rests on the shoulders of Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner, who made the voices of Pumbaa and Timon respectively. All the scenes that involve this pair of friends not only captures the essence of their animated characters, but also their charisma, generating funny situations that will give you more than a laugh. Also, I really liked the work done by the veteran James Earl Jones as the majestic Mufasa and Chiwetel Ejiofor who really hit the spot of his role as the cold and manipulative villain Scar.

Now let’s talk about the cons in this movie. Actually there are not many negative things to point out, but there is one very important thing. Apparently, for the desire to recreate animals that looked very real, the film sacrifices great quality of expression of its characters, as result dramatic scenes such as the death of Mufasa or the confrontation between Simba and Scar end up feeling a little bit weak. Although the actors do an exceptional voice job, the faces of the characters fail to express any feeling. Perhaps it would have been convenient to sacrifice a bit of realism of animals characters in order to give them more humanized gestures to their faces, achieving that way a greater depth with the help of facial expressions in each dramatic scene and even during their song interpretation.

In conclusion, the new adaptation of “The Lion King” is not better than the original animated version, because in my opinion it was not created with that intention, rather than that it represents a tribute to an immortal Disney classic that revives the interest of the new generations to know more about these characters. Maybe we will see more of Simba and Nala’s adventures in a sequel or perhaps in a series the Disney+ streaming service. Besides that, I can tell you that the film is more enjoyable as a musical than as a live action movie, mostly because of the lack of expressiveness of the characters. Even so, it is still a great adaptation, an ideal film to share with the family and remember part of our childhood for all those who lived it back in the 90s.

Finally, I leave you with the single “Spirit” performed by Beyoncé for the film’s soundtrack, a singer who also did an exceptional job in her interpretation of the song “Can you feel the love tonight” as Nala in duo with Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) as Simba.

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