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The Lion King
Mufasa and young Simba in The Lion King © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Movie Review: The Lion King

Disney’s latest remake roars into theaters with a flair of nostalgia.

In the circle of life, Disney’s live-action remakes have made it to Pride Rock. An all-star studded cast voices the animal kingdom in Disney’s The Lion King remake, capturing the hearts of viewers of all ages while holding true to the lessons of the original 1994 animated film.

The newest version begins with the heart-roaring scene where the tribe elder mandrill, Rafiki, introduces Simba to the rest of the Pride Rock tribe. Little Prince Simba idolizes his dad, King Mufasa, and looks forward to the day when he’ll become king of Pride Rock. That moment comes all too soon after a Wildebeest stampede breaks out. Mufasa’s brother, Scar, still angry about not inheriting the throne, pushes away Mufasa’s attempt of surviving the stampede. Simba, blaming himself for his father’s death, banishes himself. He meets meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner) and warthog Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) who provide needed comedic relief and become Simba’s closest confidants.

Meanwhile, Scar, with the help of aggressive hyenas, is holding Pride Rock hostage to his hunger for power. After a chance run-in with childhood friend turned romantic interest, Nala, Simba returns to Pride Rock to claim his rightful throne and restore the goodness of Pride Rock.

The Lion King
Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) and Simba (Donald Glover) © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

One of the only major changes in the 2019 version is director Jon Favreau’s commitment to making the animals in The Lion King much more realistic. In fact, even when they dance and sing, the animals never move in a way that the real animal physically couldn’t.

Employing two actors to voice Simba, JD McCrary as young Simba and Donald Glover as older Simba, allows the two to be very different characters. The young Simba is interested in the power of becoming King, while grown-up Simba cares about protecting his friends and members of Pride Rock.

For many, the remake will feel like an enhanced version of the original, one with a soundtrack featuring Beyoncé and an almost shot-for-shot remake of the 1994 version. The film will tug at parents’ nostalgic heartstrings, prompting more than a few tears, while bringing a new audience a chance to experience the magic of Pride Rock.

Alongside the film’s many lessons, including the danger of being power hungry and doing the right thing even when others don’t, The Lion King tells a heartwarming story about friendship and love. Ultimately, Simba learns the lesson his dad taught him when he was young: “Being King isn’t about taking, it’s about asking how you can give.”

Release Date: July 19, 2019
Rating: PG

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