For Millennials. By Millennials.

The Lion King Review: It’s Just Songs Over a National Geographic Montage

Spoilers ahead!!

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Friday 19th July brought the worldwide release of the live action The Lion King. As a fan of the original movie, I was so excited to watch the live action. Though early reviews for the movie were not that good but still I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Children, listen: reviews are there for a reason. So, don’t go making the same mistake as I did. Read this review and decide for yourself if you want to spend $7 on a remake of a movie you already love. And as I’ve mentioned before about remakes, they’re never as good as the originals.

The Plot is Same as the Original The Lion King

The Lion King put in simple words is a much less disturbing Hamlet for children. Also it’s based on animals. The lion (Mufasa) is obviously the king and he has a son. The movie starts with the son (Simba) being introduced to the animal kingdom as their future king. For a villain, there’s Scar who is Mufasa’s brother. He plots along with the hyena’s to get Mufasa killed in a stampede and also manages to make little Simba feel responsible for his father’s death and convinces him to runaway. Simba goes into exile only to come back as a fully grown lion who’s ready to avenge his father’s death and fulfill his destiny of becoming the one true king.

I know this must seem way too complex for a kids movie. And it is. But this serious content played out in a very animated and children friendly way in the original Disney film. The remake lacks just there. The visual graphics coupled with the serious content makes it too difficult for the kids to understand. When in the original Scar is singing and plotting against his brother, it’s easy to tell for the kids that he’s the bad guy. But in the remake, though the Scar’s sequence is the only commendable one, it seems far too complex for kids to understand.

Plot wise the remake doesn’t brings in any new dimension. The live action of The Lion King sticks as close to the original plot and movie as possible except for a few dialogue changes. Also there’s no Scar’s iconic ‘I’m surrounded by idiots’ dialogue.

The Cast is Underwhelming

One of the reasons why I was so excited for the live action remake of The Lion King was because of the star studded cast. They had Beyonce voicing Nala and that was all it took for me to buy that ticket. Beyonce as Nala sounds dreamy and angelic. But in reality the voice work doesn’t work that well. In fact, Beyonce as Nala came across as pretty bland and failed to evoke any kind of emotion.

Simba though voiced to perfection by Donald Glover came across as annoying and bratty instead of adorable. John Oliver as Zazu is a treat for the ears and perhaps one of the only characters that is actually worth watching the movie for. The real MVP though is Seth Rogen’s Pumba. The jokes have great timing and his chemistry with Billy Eichner’s Timon is the only saving grace for the movie.

Why The Lion King Disappoints?

The main reason as to why The Lion King doesn’t live up to the mark is because it’s too real. I’ll give the credit where it’s due. The visuals are stunning. The details in the movie are insane and you can tell that they’ve worked hard to perfect each and every detail. The movie is a marvel of modern technology and how far cinema has come. But this visual treat and photo realistic theme just doesn’t work for The Lion King. The animals and the environment is so real that it really does begins to feel like a wild life documentary.

The Songs Were Unnecessary

Because the movie seems so real, it’s quite hard to stomach seeing life like lions singing songs like I just can’t wait to be king. The animated Simba singing this song seems cute and full of unadulterated youth but in the remake it just doesn’t has that same effect. The circle of life falls flat too and perhaps the only song that works is Can You Feel The Love Tonight but that’s probably because Beyonce is singing it. Hakuna Matata was somewhat fine but didn’t have that funny and joyous ring to it as it did in the original.

The Verdict

The Lion King was only supposed to be a kids film. However, with the visuals it just seemed all too real. It’s too sepia looking for the children and too simple for the adults. So, it really doesn’t caters to any particular targeted audience. The moral of the story feels lost in the film too. The Lion King has echoes of Hamlet in it but the overarching themes of bravery and learning responsibility always won out in the original. In the remake, because it fails to evoke any significant emotion, the moral and Simba’s quest to fulfilling his destiny of becoming the true king are kind of downplayed. They don’t have the same impact as they did in the original.

But for all the complaining that I just did right now, I won’t lie. I did cry when Mufasa died and I bet you would too if you go watch it. But it’d be partly because you love the animated Mufasa and HOW CAN YOU NOT CRY WHEN HE DIES?!! It’s impossible not to.

So, on a scale of 10 I’d give the live action The Lion King a solid 5 and the 4.5 of it is only for John Oliver’s Zazu.

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