If I’m being honest, The Lion King was never one of my favorite Disney films. I just never really connected that much with it. I was skeptical going into this because of that and because of the very mixed critical reception. But, as I do with all films, I kept an open mind. After seeing it, I can say that while it’s not the best among the list of Disney live action remakes, it is satisfying and will please fans. And you will not believe the animation they use here truly amazing how far we’ve come.
I want to start with the animation because that’s the first thing that you’re dazzled by. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking. It’s truly hard to believe that it’s all animated. The landscape is made even more mesmerizing by some of the very smart direction choices. There are several wide shots that emphasize the large scale, and one aerial shot that’s really effective. Jon Favreau did a skillful job here.
There are certain choices a director can make to uplift a film, and Favreau makes a lot of those choices here. The look of all the animals is amazing, with incredible attention to detail. Young Simba is bound to steal your heart right from the very first scene, the animators did an awesome job making him look so real and kept the cute factor intact.
Some have argued that the change from cartoon animation to realist animation sucked a lot of the feel out, but I don’t think that’s the case here. I can understand that argument but I just don’t think it holds up. I got all the feeling and heart and I think because the realist animation is done so well, it works for the most part. The voice cast really outdoes themselves here. Chiwetel Ejiofor makes the biggest impact in my opinion. He plays Scar and really brings the villainous character to life. Donald Glover is a very fitting Simba and the combination of his voice and the masterful animation makes the character. Seth Rogen steels every scene he’s in with his hilarious performance as Pumbaa. I really loved his energy with Billy Eichner, who plays Timon. They make for a very fun/high energy pair and they both bring comedy that lands.
Alfre Woodard fits very easily into the role of Sarabi, as does the Queen herself: Beyoncé Knowles. Beyoncé plays Nala and yes, she does well playing the role but her singing is what’s really notable. The singing is overall well done, I’d say Beyoncé’s parts are the best by far. The whole thing is paced pretty well. While it is paced well, I felt some scenes were a tad short. I didn’t rewatch the original before seeing this so I’m not exactly sure how the length compares, but I could’ve used a little more, in the middle especially. The only other downside I took away from this was one scene where I felt the impact wasn’t as strong as it needed to be. All the other scenes were able to retain the impact and feeling, especially the ending, but the stampede scene lacked in my opinion. I think that scene needed another review.
The Lion King is not the best out of Disney’s remakes and there are a couple things I think it could’ve improved on. Having said that, I felt satisfied by this remake due to the truly amazing animation and the A list voice cast that breaths life into these characters.