The Lion King (2019)

Visually breathtaking in groundbreaking mocap/animative stylism with a stirring Zimmer score, efficacious voicework by its superstar cast, and preservation of the original’s Victorian/life-cyclical thematics – despite some failed VFX facial-expressions. 7.6/10.

Plot Synopsis: The heart of Africa: a young lion cub named Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the continental plains. 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 soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Official CLC Review

The Greatest Animated Story Ever Told & Disney’s Crown Jewel

Reimagined On The Big Screen

The Lion King. Aladdin. Jungle Book. The Little Mermaid. Dumbo. Cinderella. Mulan. One might be forgiven for starting to get weary of Disney’s veritable rapid-fire of live-action remakes flooding cinemas near you. Most have been decent, some good, but we were all on the edge of our seats when the first trailer released and once-in-a-lifetime cast announced (in addition to possibly the biggest resources the studio has ever pledged to a single project) for the remake of one of the most iconic animated films ever: The Lion King. Visually breathtaking in groundbreaking mocap/animative stylism with a stirring Zimmer score, efficacious voicework by its superstar cast ensemble, and preservation of the original’s Victorian and life-cyclical thematics, 2019’s The Lion King is the spectacular vision of the story we deserve.

The Visually-Breathtaking Cinematography

The visuals. I cannot even put into words how visually breathtaking The Lion King is. Innovatively combining mocap wizardry with the animation resources of the world’s biggest animation studio, the beloved creatures of Simba’s famous story are magnificently brought to life in realism-centric but equally-escapist fashion. The cinematography is absolutely JAW-DROPPING with some of the most spectacular shots of primal Africa ever put to film with varied topography and locational settings ranging from lush ultra-green rainforests to skyscraper-tall waterfalls to warm melting orange-hued sunsets to foggy ominous elephant graveyards in the badlands to night skies so starry and crisp you can’t believe your eyes. The film truly paints the majesty of Africa and nature/biological life in such vivid, vibrancy-bursting fashion it’s impossible not to be wowed with. You can easily tell it’s one of the most expensive films ever made simply from its photoimagery alone – easily worth the price of admission by itself.

The Score & Voicework

The score and voicework. Paralleling its visual magnificence is a sublime score by mastermind composer Hans Zimmer of Man of Steel/The Dark Knight/Wonder Woman/Inception/Blade Runner 2049 fame. From xylophone scales to dark foreboding chants to stirring emotionally-resonant orchestral themes and booming Greek tragedy/operatic overtures playing up the story’s Victorian bases, the score is absolutely unbelievable and together with the visuals make for a sensory-overloading experience of a package that will near move you to tears artistically. The film’s ultra star-powered, once-in-a-lifetime cast complete with everyone from Donald Glover to Beyoncé Knowles-Carter to James Earl Jones to Seth Rogan (MVP comedically) to JD McCrary (biggest surprise but a spot-on innocent young Simba) is *perfect* and each play their part well in effectively retelling the iconic story on the big screen.

Preservation Of The Original’s Best Arcs & Victorian/Life-Cyclical Thematics

Preservation of the original’s best arcs and Victorian/life-cyclical thematics – with a few fleshed out additions as well. What’s best about this version of The Lion King is that they stay authentic to the original’s spirit – despite what foolish trolls and “critics” might say. I cannot imagine what could possibly be going through their minds when panning a film for simply following the story of the original film OF WHICH IT’S BASED ON AND SHARES THE SAME NAME. What did they expect them to do: rewrite a legendary film completely – maybe give it a shock ending of Scar coming back a zombie? Maybe have Nara become leader instead? Maybe have them all give a final dance sequence to end it (seems to be what most of these fools think is “cinematic brilliance” as a plot point from Guardians of The Galaxy they seemed to blow them away..)? It’s a quite-simply imbecilic, nonsensical, ridiculous criticism to expect a studio to change up an already near-perfect story & film passed down for generations and across cultures – just for kicks. If you (by some conceivable notion) didn’t know you were going to see the story of The Lion King just live-action when you bought, your ticket, you might want to get referred to an optometrist. They do, in fact, make a few small (smart) changes like fleshing out Simba and Mufasa’s father-son bond with more screentime, more relevance for Nara, and a funnier Pumba by the inimitably side-splitting Seth Rogan – while still feeling wholly like the classic TLK through and through both in heart and atmosphere.

Flaws: Mufasa’s Fall & MCU Humour

REAL flaws in 2019’s The Lion King are a bizarre misdirection of the film’s most important scene, and some admittedly-juvenile Disney-isms added to clearly target child audiences at the expense of its artistic premise. The fall of Mufasa – the most POWERFUL and emotionally-resonant point in the story and arguably Disney’s entire filmography – is weirdly.. tonally-airy in this version. I could not believe my eyes/ears when I heard an inexplicably light Major-keyed buoyant (almost sadistically-happy) score in what should have been an absolutely *devastating* sequence and tearjerker orchestral theme of Greek Tragedy proportions. The original’s version always brought tears to my eyes as a child, but in this one – I felt nothing as a major detraction both in steam and power from the gravity of the moment as the anchor of the film deserving a far better rendition. Also, the comedy gets a bit silly/stupid in parts like Pumba’s – constant – farting (because funny noises are funny) I cringed at in classical pandering to immature audience members when the rest of the film feels like an elegant, almost-grown up retelling of the story in striking animalistic-realism sadly forsaken in parts by some ill-advised juvenile quirks.

Conclusion

A Majestic Retelling With Groundbreaking Mocap/Animative Stylism, A Mythic Cast, & Sensory Power Only Mountains Of $$$ Can Buy

Overall, 2019’s The Lion King is a majestic retelling of the iconic original with the type of visual splendor and sensory power only mountains of money can buy. Visually breathtaking in groundbreaking mocap/animative stylism with a (mostly)-stirring Zimmer score, efficacious voicework by its superstar cast, and preservation of the original’s Victorian and life-cyclical thematics, Disney’s 2019 TLK is easily worth the price of admission as a strong live-action version of the generational tale we all love.

Official CLC Score: 7.6/10