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Movie Review: The Lion King (2019)

Article by: Alice-Ginevra Micheli


The latest in Disney’s ‘reimagining’s’,The Lion King brings the ’90s classic back to the big screen, with more life than could have ever been expected.

Directed by Jon Favreau, the story is one you know and love. This is Hamlet set in the wilds of Africa, and explores the classic themes of love, loss, grief, and what it means to realize and fulfill your destiny.

While one could argue that this new version of The Lion King is completely unneeded, others can say that the photorealism of the film bring the classic tale to life in the most spectacular manner possible. Combining visuals such as those in Planet Earth with Disney’s beloved story, there is a new kind of magic presented on screen, and that is in its visual effects.

The images are absolutely fascinating, leaving behind the days of ‘uncanny valley’ and obtuse animatronics. The detail and care given to each frame results in pure amazement and joy, due to its marvel. This reinterpretation also allows the story to hit audiences on a deeper emotional level. The dramatic scenes are weightier, and the villainous have more gravitas. It’s more affecting, adding depth in ways that aren’t possible in a “cartoon” format. This also works in the lighthearted moments, where the audience is able to connect with the characters situations due to the fact that they are all happening in what looks to be the real world.

The talent chosen for each role also works well with its new verve. Donald Glover and Beyoncé paired their sultry tones with their head strong characters well, and James Earl Jones fit right back into the Mufasa role as if not a day had passed. However, the point of excellence came from the double act of Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Pumba and Timon respectively. They are able to bounce off each other with ease, creating moments of pure dynamism. While there might be readjustment needed so as to get used to these similar, yet new character voices, they soon settle in as a strong presence, making each one their own.

From there, it’s the story many know and love: that same fun music, the same characters, and the same plot beats. …And this is where the film could lose some. Not unlike Gus Van Sant’s unfortunate remake of Psycho, we’re not seeing anything different here. It’s the same story, practically (if not, entirely) shot for shot, just… dolled up. What viewers might appreciate in the film’s technical achievement may not be enough to keep them hooked due to the “copycat” nature of the movie. As a result, there is also nothing particularly adverse about the film’s quality. The plot works seamlessly, and the characters are as vibrant as can be remembered. However, the lack of originality may ruffle some feathers due to its perceived laziness. Sure, it looks pretty, but wondering if this film is really needed is definitely a valid argument.

Those who go in looking for an update of a classic, who love the original but are intrigued in how it would play out in a photo-realistic landscape, just might find themselves enticed, intrigued and elated with the end result. Those who were expecting anything new… well, don’t hold your breath. This is The Lion King for the 21st century, nothing more and nothing less.


MG Rating: 7/10



Alice Ginevra Micheli
Her love of film, novels and all things media led her to study Screen and Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. Fascinated with the culture of entertainment today she keeps up to date on all the news and going-ons within the industry. When not traversing the internet and cinemas, she spends her time catching up on whatever TV or book series she's currently obsessed with.

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