The king has returned

James Earl Jones and JD McCrary in The Lion King (2019)

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, James Earl Jones

Genre: Action/Adventure

Plot: After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.

The original Lion King is amazing, it will always be one of my favourite movies and the soundtrack is near perfection, the remake, however, despite its best efforts struggles to recapture the magic.

John Oliver and JD McCrary in The Lion King (2019)

Almost a carbon copy of the original in terms of plot, the makers do devote a little more time to developing Scar (Ejiofor) Nala (Beyoncé), the hyenas, Timon (Eichner) and Pumba (Rogan), which I found great and added to the film, just not enough to warrant the remaking of a classic.

I will admit, the visuals are truly breathtaking and unlike some, I quite enjoyed the realistic look of the animals and some of the new takes on the songs are enjoyable, well apart from the half-arsed attempt at Be Prepared, which was clearly squeezed in due to backlash at the news it had been cut and replaced by a Beyoncé number.

Donald Glover was great as Simba, I’ve been a fan of his since his days in Community and wonder if there is any limit to his talents, Beyoncé, on the other hand, felt out of place and some of the added lines were just cheesy and reminded me of the cringy scene in Avengers: Endgame where all the female superheroes appear out of nowhere to line up, the less said about her original songs the better, it’s no wonder her accompanying album flopped.

By far the biggest change to the original film and one I enjoyed was Florence Kasumba as hyena leader, Shenzi, she made the character more menacing and hinted at an interesting backstory between her and Mufasa (Jones).

James Earl Jones and JD McCrary in The Lion King (2019)

When it comes to Scar, I can’t decide if I like Ejiofor’s or Jeremy Irons interpretation better, whereas Ejiofor’s gave amazing presence to the film, capturing the characters cunning ruthlessness, Irons in the 1994 film was more theatrical and he had the full Be Prepared to belt out.

As for James Earl Jones as Mufasa, he is just as good as the last time he played the role, offering some tweaks and changes that added to the character, it was brilliant to listen to him give the character life again and really brought me back to my childhood.

Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and JD McCrary in The Lion King (2019)
One massive change from the film that I didn’t enjoy and this is down to the more realistic nature was the significant lack of any physical emotions. though the actor’s attempt t make up for it with their vocals, due to the inability to show it to the same extent as with its more cartoonish predecessor, remaining stoic at best, even in the most emotive moments, that being said there were still grown men crying in the aisles in both screenings I have been too.

All things considered, I would recommend this going to see this film, however, I would advise you to go in knowing not to expect anything more than a blatant cash grab by Disney and you are better off re-watching the first film, which is a shame given how well Jon Favreau did with his remake of The Jungle Book.

3 Panda

If you liked: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin

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