THE LION KING REVIEW
Does The Lion King need a parent movie review? The 2019 version sure does. Here’s everything you need to know about Disney’s The Lion King before you take the kiddos to the theater next week. As Scar says- Be Prepared!
I’ll say this upfront: while I should be the target audience for this movie, pretty much from the get-go I had concerns with the concept of a live-action Lion King. Those concerns turned out to be valid and I can’t say this is my favorite of the Disney Live-Action movies. And I generally enjoy Disney’s live-actions.
Questions I had going in:
Without humans and with only voice over actors, how was this going to be different from the original animated film? What was going to substantially change to make a 2019 version necessary?
The short answer: it is totally different even when it tries to be the same. And that made for a distracting movie.
It doesn’t mean you won’t love it but it had too many problems for me to love.
Table of Contents
About The Lion King (2019)
Disney’s “The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau, journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own.
The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy, and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.
The all-star cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon. Utilizing pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring treasured characters to life in a whole new way, Disney’s “The Lion King” roars into theaters on July 19, 2019.
Runtime: 118 minutes
The Lion King 2019 Review
First things first. The visuals of this film are breathtaking and fantastic.
Which is pretty much the answer as to why this movie was remade. And they nailed it: it is absolutely stunning.
We saw it on an IMAX screen and I will caution that at times the sweeping nature of the up-close scenes made me a bit woozy.
If you love tech, if you love details, if you love realistic talking animals, you’re going to have a positive reaction to this movie.
The Problems With The Lion King 2019
The lions, which are a really big part of The Lion King (I mean, duh), really can’t emote. We know this as observers of nature so it shouldn’t have been a surprise.
Yet because of the animated version, where the artists had a lot more leeway, we’re kinda looking for it.
And it’s just not there.
As a friend said, “The Lions all had Botox or something…”
Though Baby Simba is just about the cutest thing you ever did see!
An unnecessary focus on things like a tuft of hair wafting across the savanna that lost me. It was more a “look at how cool this effect is!” moment than something that was necessary for the story. And it went on for far too long.
These types of moments made the visuals a distraction for me rather than a plus at times.
I also couldn’t quite shake the original voices who are so ingrained in my head. It was different than watching the live-action Aladdin for me. In Aladdin, I could *see* Will Smith on screen and it was easier to accept him, his voice, and his mannerism in the role.
We don’t have that option in The Lion King. My ears were trying to find Matthew Broderick (sorry, Donald!) and I missed Jeremy Irons as well. Though Chiwetel Ejiofor does an excellent job making Scar his own and was a top 3 favorite character in this version.
What The Lion King Got Right
The songs are still great and when you have Beyonce and Donald Glover singing, you just can’t go wrong.
The storyline hasn’t changed much either, and overall you’ll feel at home here. At least it will be familiar if you’ve watched the DVD 80,000 times as we have in our family!
Young Nala and Young Simba (Shahadi Wright-Joseph and JD McCrary) were an absolute delight. Their scenes were brief, but that’s what happens when young lions have to grow up!
Everyone is talking about Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Timon and Pumbaa.
Believe the hype. When they come on the scene, the movie changes tone and direction and finally pays off.
If you have concerns about seeing this movie, go just to hear these two go after the laughs. They get them and they get them honestly. Also: Rogen is pretty PG here, so yay, Seth!
The No-Guilt Fangirls Podcast Lion King Review
When Can You Pee During The Lion King 2019?
If you know the story from the original, then you know when you can go and not miss too much.
The plotlines are the same so go with your gut if your bladder (or the kids!) tells you it’s time to make a run to the bathroom during The Lion King 2019.
- Around 10 minutes in when Simba is learning about all the light touches.
- After I Can’t-Wait To Be King (23 minutes in)
- Graveyard scene: if you have young kids, GO NOW. Cause it’s scary.
- When Scar leaves Simba in the canyon (you know what’s about to happen and do you really need to traumatize yourself in real life?)
Do NOT go whenever Timon and Pumbaa are on screen. Seriously- hold it! They are just too good.
Are There Any End Credit Scenes In The Lion King?
There are no end credit scenes in The Lion King.
Just really long credits and a new song by Elton John if you are into that sort of thing!
The Lion King Parent Movie Review
Can you take the kids? Is The Lion King Kid-friendly? I mean- it’s Disney! It’s the Lion King! This should totally be ok, right?
It is… and it isn’t.
Remember how I said it’s the same but also different?
The scary parts of the original are totally amplified when it comes to this live-action version of The Lion King. If you have a child who is concerned or affected by the animated version, you will want to prescreen this one. Or use those moments as a well-timed bathroom break as mentioned above.
There are no language concerns in this PG movie, but one of the Pumbaa jokes is how he farts a lot. If you don’t love that kind of humor, this is a gentle reminder that there are some warthog burping and farting in this one.
There are some dramatic animal deaths in the movie, so if that’s not something your kid can handle, please keep in mind this movie is uber-realistic. There’s no blood or gore, but the loss of characters we love is never easy!
Will your kids love The Lion King? Absolutely. I think as long as they aren’t super sensitive they will love the animals and the songs just like they love the animated version.
Will you love it? I don’t know… it was a no from me, Warthog.
Rating: 7.5 (I just… I just couldn’t here.)
Check out these pictures from The Lion King World Premiere red carpet! Wowza!
And if you are a fan of memes like I’m a fan of memes, check out The Lion King memes spoilers without context post. When you know, you know!
Patty Holliday is a parent movie reviewer, writer, and podcaster living in the Washington, DC area. Her goal is to bridge the gap between casual fandom and picky critic with parent movie and television reviews. As a lifelong fangirl and pop culture connoisseur, she’s been creating online since 2009. You can find her work at No-Guilt Disney.com, No-Guilt Fangirl.com, No-Guilt Life, and as host of the top-rated No-Guilt Disney Podcast.