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The Lion King Movie Review

The Lion King is photo-realistic but lacks the charm and humor of the original 1994 animated film.

Reviewed by on Jul 19, 2019
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw The Lion King. It looks majestic but the rehash plays like a Disney Nature film with talking/singing animals. It’s strange but interesting. Check out our movie review.

By: Lynn Barker

In the African Pride Lands, Lion King Mufasa (voice of James Earl Jones) presents his cub Simba (voices of JD McCrary and Donald Glover) to his animal subjects. Simba will be the heir. Mufasa’s bro Scar (voice of Chiwetel Ejiofor) has always wanted the throne and plans to get it at all costs. After Mufasa’s suspicious death, Scar makes sure tiny Simba blames himself and drives the cub into exile.

Gathering of animals at Pride RockGathering of animals at Pride RockCourtesy of Disney

Simba’s friend/future love Nala (voices of Shahadi Wright Joseph and Beyoncé) finds and supports him. So do new, upbeat pals Timon (voice of Billy Eichner) and warthog Pumbaa (voice of Seth Rogan) who help Simba grow up, accept his destiny and become the true king.

The Lion King Trailer


The Beginning

In Africa, a pride of lions rule over the animal kingdom from their Pride Rock stronghold. King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi (voice of Alfre Woodard) have newborn son Simba presented to the assembled animals by shaman/advisor Rafiki the mandrill (John Kani). The kingdom rejoices as “The Circle of Life” plays. Scar misses the presentation ceremony and Mufasa calls him on it. He complains that he should have been king and Mufasa tells bird sidekick Zazu (voice of John Oliver) that he can’t banish Scar because he is his brother.

Mufasa confronts ScarMufasa confronts ScarCourtesy of Disney

Sick Plot

Mufasa shows Simba the Pride Lands and explains to him the responsibilities of kingship and the "circle of life", which connects all living things. He warns the young cub to never go beyond the distant shadows. Scar tells Simba he must learn to be a better hunter but warns him, in teasing fashion, to not go to the Elephant graveyard in the distance. Of course he only makes Simba want to go more.

Simba and Nala enter forbidden landsSimba and Nala enter forbidden landsCourtesy of Disney

Simba takes best friend Nala and they travel to the forbidden lands. Simba can’t wait to be king. They are attacked by hyenas led by Shenzi (voice of Florence Kashumba) and Mufasa has to save them. Mufasa is angry that he was disobeyed but forgives Simba and tells him about the great kings of the past who watch over them from the stars.

Mufasa shows Simba the Pride LandsMufasa shows Simba the Pride LandsCourtesy of Disney

Deadly Trap

Scar is angry at his hyena minions for not killing the two cubs he sent their way. He tells them Mufasa and Simba must die!  Scar sets a trap for his brother and nephew, luring Simba into a canyon where the hyenas drive a huge herd of stampeding wildebeest. Simba is trapped. Scar tells Mufasa.

Scar lures Simba into the canyonScar lures Simba into the canyonCourtesy of Disney

Mufasa is narrowly able to save Simba but can’t climb out of the canyon without Scar’s help. Of course Scar just sends him to his death. He then convinces grieving Simba that his dad’s death was his fault and he should run away and never return. He orders the hyenas to kill the cub but Simba escapes. Scar tells the other animals that both Mufasa and Simba were killed and takes over as king with his hyena buddies joining him.

Scar tells hyenas to kill SimbaScar tells hyenas to kill SimbaCourtesy of Disney

New Life

Simba collapses while crossing a desert and would give up on life but warthog Pumbaa and meerkat Timon find and rescue him reasoning that, when he grows up, he will owe and protect them. Simba learns to eat grubs and other slimy food rather than his fellow animals and takes on a “no worries” “Hakuna Matata” attitude, trying to forget his past. Meanwhile, life in the Pride Lands is horrible. The hyenas have eaten and destroyed everything. Animals are starving. The now adult Nala sneaks away looking for help. Finding more lush lands and being hungry, she pounces on Pumbaa and would eat him but Simba rescues his friend and realizes that the lioness is Nala.

Timon and Pumbaa teach Simba Hakuna MatataTimon and Pumbaa teach Simba Hakuna MatataCourtesy of Disney

He’s Alive!

Some of Simba’s fur floats downstream and after many encounters, ends up with Rafiki who can smell that it’s Simba’s. He is alive!  Nala and Simba reunite and fall in love (“Can you Feel the Love Tonight”) and she urges him to return home and be king. The Pride Lands are a wasteland under Scar's reign. Still feeling unworthy and guilty over his father's death, Simba refuses and goes off alone. Nala leaves. Rafiki finds Simba and asks him who he is. He says Mufasa is alive…in the grown up Simba. Mufasa’s voice comes from the stars telling him to embrace his destiny and save the Pride Lands as king.

Nala and Simba are reunitedNala and Simba are reunitedCourtesy of Disney

Going Home

Aided by his friends, Zazu, Rafiki, Timon and Pumbaa who follow him, Simba reunites with Nala and they get past the hyena guards when Pumbaa and Timon bravely lure them away. At Pride Rock, Simba confronts Scar, who has hit Sarabi for not agreeing to be his Queen. Scar continues to intimidate Simba over his role in Mufasa's death and whispering, reveals to him that it was he who murdered Mufasa. Will Simba step up and defeat Scar and take his rightful place as king? Will he and Nala rule and continue the Circle of Life?

Mufasa and son SimbaMufasa and son SimbaCourtesy of Disney

Wrapping Up

The new Lion King, a high tech combination of CGI, motion capture and virtual reality settings, is beautiful to look at but scenes like Mufasa’s death seem a bit too sad and shocking when portrayed by such life-like animals. Although the voice actors do a nice job (Seth Rogan’s wart hog Pumbaa is a hoot), the animated characters in the original film had more facial expressions and the jokes were just funnier. Especially lacking in humor but thick with dark menace are the “bad guy” hyenas who were hilarious in the original film.

Scar with his evil hyena minionsScar with his evil hyena minionsCourtesy of Disney

Photo-real animals singing is just weird but workable I guess. The story is longer but all the key points are the same. Some additions are okay but weren’t necessary like villain Scar having further motivation to hate Mufasa because he had the hots for Mufasa’s Queen Sarabi or a tiny piece of adult Simba’s fur blowing on the wind for seems like hours until Rafiki recognizes it.

Rafiki wisely advises SimbaRafiki wisely advises SimbaCourtesy of Disney

The 2019 Scar as voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is more menacing and has less sleazy charm than the same character voiced by Jeremy Irons in the animated 1994 version but I liked the sleazy charm.  There are a few new and re-worked songs. Beyoncé’s “Spirit” is nice. Her music video is gorgeous. The new voice cast member/singers put their own take on several of the classic original songs with mixed results.

Simba can't wait to be kingSimba can't wait to be kingCourtesy of Disney

This isn’t a perfect film but if you are one of the few tweens and teens who never saw the animated version, the 2019 movie might appeal to you more. It does have its moments. We award four stars.

The Lion King Movie Rating: 4

The Lion King Movie Poster

See The Lion King in theaters now!

Stand Up and Roar!

Do you think Disney should re-make all of its classic animated films or leave well enough alone? Are you looking forward to a new Lion King with more real-looking animals? Are you happy with Beyoncé and the new voice cast? Stand up and roar! Comment and/or write on your Kidzworld profile page!