The Lion King is a 2019 musical film directed & produced by Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1/2, The Jungle Book, Made, Elf, & Chef). It’s a remake of the 1994 animated feature. It was written by Jeff Nathanson (Speed 2, Rush Hour 2/3, Catch Me If You Can, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, & Tower Heist). Original composer Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, Days of Thunder, True Romance, The Rock, Hannibal, & The Dark Knight/Rises) returned to do the score with music producer Pharrell Williams (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Hidden Figures, & Despicable Me Trilogy). It was first developed in 2016. Benedict Cumberbatch was the original choice for the Scar role. Rather than doing live action, it uses photorealistic computer-generated animation just like Favreau’s previous Disney movie The Jungle Book. It had an estimated budget of $260 million & it grossed $1.655 billion at the box office!!!!
In the Pride Lands of Africa, a pride of lions rule over the animal kingdom from Pride Rock. King Mufasa’s (played by: James Earl Jones from The Lion King, Star Wars franchise, The Sandlot, & Coming to America) & Queen Sarabi’s (played by: Alfre Woodard from Luke Cage, Captain America: Civil War, Annabelle, & Beauty Shop) newborn son Simba (played by: JD McCrary from Little & The Paynes) is presented to the gathering animals by Rafiki (played by: John Kani from Black Panther, Captain America: Civil War, The Wild Geese, & The Ghost and the Darkness). Mufasa shows Simba the Pride Lands & explains to him the responsibilities of kingship. He tells him about the “circle of life”, which connects all living things. Mufasa’s brother Scar (played by: Chiwetel Ejiofor from Doctor Strange, American Gangster, Inside Man, & Four Brothers) plans on taking over the throne. He plots to eliminate Mufasa & Simba, so he may become king. He tricks Simba & his best friend Nala (played by: Shahadi Wright Joseph from US) into exploring a forbidden elephants’ graveyard, where they are attacked by spotted hyenas led by the ruthless Shenzi (played by: Florence Kasumba from Black Panther, Wonder Woman, Avengers: Infinity War, & Captain America: Civil War). Mufasa is alerted about the incident by his majordomo, the hornbill Zazu (played by: John Oliver from Community, The Smurfs 1/2, & Last Week Tonight with John Oliver). Scar visits the hyenas which includes Kamari (played by: Keegan-Michael Key from Keanu, The Predator, Toy Story 4, & Dolemite Is My Name) & Azizi (played by: Eric André from Disenchantment, Man Seeking Woman, & Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23), he convinces them to help him overthrow Mufasa in exchange for hunting rights in the Pride Lands.
Scar sets a trap for his brother & nephew resulting in Mufasa’s death & Simba running away from home. Scar tells the community that Simba was killed also. Scar becomes the new king & changes everything around him. Simba collapses in a desert, he is rescued by Timon (played by: Billy Eichner from American Horror Story, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Friends from College, & Parks and Recreation) & Pumbaa (played by: Seth Rogen from Knocked Up, Superbad, The Green Hornet, & Kung Fu Panda franchise). Simba (played by: Donald Glover from Solo: A Star Wars Story, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Atlanta, & Community) grows up in the oasis with his two new friends & other animals in their oasis, living a carefree life under the motto “hakuna matata”. Now a young adult, Simba rescues Timon & Pumbaa from a hungry lioness, who turns out to be Nala (played by: Beyoncé from Austin Powers in Goldmember, Dreamgirls, & Cadillac Records). She & Simba reunite after all these years. They fall in love, she begs him to return home. Feeling guilty over his father’s death, Simba refuses & storms off. Realizing that he can no longer run from his past, Simba decides to return to the Pride Lands. Aided by his friends, Simba sneaks past the hyenas at Pride Rock & confronts Scar, who was about to fight Sarabi. Scar taunts Simba over his role in Mufasa’s death & backs him to the edge of the rock, where he reveals to him that he murdered Mufasa. Enraged, Simba reveals the truth to the rest of the pride. Can this young Lion finally become the king & save his people from the evil Scar????
I am not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes for this new Lion King so I wasn’t expecting much from it. I was very surprised on how much I enjoyed it. I’ve said this before but these Disney reboots are very hit or miss so I do appreciate when it actually works out. Don’t believe everything that you heard about this. It’s not a shot for shot remake, it’s 30 minutes longer than the original but it does recreate all the iconic moments from the 1994 film. It has that same tone as the classic that everyone is familiar with but it at the same time it adds it’s own spin to it. It’s been 25 years so you can’t expect the exact same thing, it has to evolve after all that time & it does achieve that. One of the strongest aspects about the first version of The Lion King was the cast & this one definitely delivers in that department. Donald Glover & Beyoncé both have the musical talent so they worked as the leads here. Both of them fit the roles & carried the film. Chiwetel Ejiofor is no Jeremy Irons but I thought he brought something different to the known villain role in this. He had great chemistry with the rest of the cast. James Earl Jones brought respect to this remake when he came back as Mufasa. He was one of the best things about the 1994 version & no surprise that he is one of the best things about this 2019 revision. The Lion King had a great supporting cast that includes Seth Rogen, John Oliver, Billy Eichner, Alfre Woodard, Keegan-Michael Key, Florence Kasumba, & John Kani. For this type of feature, I prefer the photorealistic computer-generated animation look over live action. I will say that I preferred the original music & soundtrack over this new one but it was still solid. My best advice with The Lion King is to go into it with an open mind & experience it for yourself. I’ll take this over something like the new Aladdin any day, RECOMMENDED!!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Disney! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer is top notch, I can only imagine what the 4K release looks like. The photorealistic computer-generated animation looks beautiful in this format. It’s some of the best visuals that I’ve seen & reviewed all year. It has a variety of audio options that includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1, & Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this release. This one will test out your speakers for sure. The dialogue plus singing is crystal clear, the action is elevated, & the music has a nice boost to it. It also has English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles. Both picture & sound are very impressive on this blu ray!
Let’s discuss the special features from Disney! “Sing Along with the Movie” provides the lyrics for the music from the film so you can do your own karaoke to it. “Intro” with producer & director Jon Favreau. He briefly chats about the visual style & the crew that helped him on it. “Audio Commentary” with producer & director Jon Favreau. He dives into the technical aspects of the production. He chats about the performances from the actors. He talks about doing something different from the original but still having those classic scenes in there. He goes into great detail about the feature & it’s very informative track. “The Journey to The Lion King” is broken down into 3 different segments that includes the almost 14 minute “The Music”, the little over 21 minute “The Magic” & the almost 19 minute “The Timeless Tale”. It has interviews with director Jon Favreau, Elton John, Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, actors Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Donald Glover, Beyonce, Keegan-Michael Key, Florence Kasumba, Alfre Woodard, Chiwetel Ejiofor, other cast members, & various members of the production. They chat about the original & how they were fans of it. They talk about bringing something new to this classic. They bring up using older tracks from the original updated now plus with brand new music. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage from the original & this remake. They chat about the new cast & their chemistry together. They go over the visuals & the production design for The Lion King. It shows you how they created them. They chat about working with virtual reality for this. They talk about the legacy of The Lion King & what it means to them. They bring up the return of James Earl Jones to the franchise. The almost 11 minute “More to Be Scene” features “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, & “Hakuna Matata”. “Spirit” Performed by Beyoncé & “Never too Late” by Elton John music videos. “Song Selection” features music from the movie which includes “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, “Be Prepared”, “Hakuna Matata”, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, “Spirit”, & “Never Too Late”. The little over 3 minute “Protect the Pride” is a public service announcement about preserving & growing Africa’s lion population. It also has a slipcover, a digital code, & a DVD copy of the release. A few store exclusives were released plus in several different formats including 4K & DVD. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!