Review: The Lion King

The Lion King started out as a project with many unknowns, but would soon become one of the most beloved Disney films of all time. Now, 25 years after its release, the iconic story gets the remake treatment.

Do I really need to bore you with a plot summary? I mean, if you have not seen this film what are you doing with your life?!? Just in case there could be someone out there who has not seen it…

The film follows a pride of lions in Africa. There is a royal hierarchy in the pride (hence the title of the film) with Mufasa (James Earl Jones) as king. His young son, Simba (J.D. McCrary) is next in line to the thrown. But a jealous and treacherous uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) tricks Simba into thinking he caused his father’s death. Riddled with grief, Simba flees only to discover bravery and responsibility in adulthood.

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The Lion King holds a very special place in my heart. It was the first film I saw at a movie theater. My mom took me there as a reward for behaving myself during an appointment she had that day. I vaguely remember watching the film that day, but my mom recalls me dancing in the aisles when “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” played (by the way, I still love that song). Heck, I used to have a stuffed animal version of Simba, which could very well be stashed away somewhere as I write this.

In case you have not guessed by now, The Lion King is unequivocally one my all time favorite films. So when Disney and director, Jon Favreau, decided to add this icon to its live-action remake catalog I was pretty skeptical. You can’t mess with perfection and, thankfully, Favreau does not. His interpretation is almost a carbon copy of the original, with a few slight changes (i.e. the scene where Timon and Puumba distract the hyenas was a neat surprise).

The film is well cast, as it was incredible having Jones return as Mufasa. McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph shine as young Simba and Nala, respectively. Even more so than their adult counterparts, Donald Glover and Beyoncé (sorry Beyhive). There were a few, nit-picky criticisms I had as an OG fan – like slight changes to some songs and scenes – but nothing that warrants dedicated space in this review.

Skeptical as I may be, I must admit that Favreau and company did The Lion King justice. Of course, there will be nothing like the film released 25 years ago, but this refreshed version is just as entertaining to watch.

My Rating: 4.5/5

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