A Review: The Lion King (2019)

I went to watch the Lion King in cinemas. There had been so many bad reviews and I had been told by everyone that I shouldn’t waste my money.

You know when someone warns you not to do something… it just makes you want to do it all the more. This was one of those moments.

And that’s how I went to go and watch The Lion King (2019).

Regardless of what people said, I chose to keep an open mind.

As the big screen shifted from black and the familiar sun rise came into view…. I continued to keep an open mind.

As Lindiwe Mkhize crooned the familiar open lines to Circle of Life … I still kept an open mind.

I appreciated how they tried to stay true to the opening scenes of the iconic animated version.

What I didn’t appreciate? The inconsistency of them staying true the 1994 classic.

The cast list was one of the main reasons I chose silence the doubts on mind. I had faith that the acting, the dialogue and visuals, would carry through.

I was wrong.

I think in this version they wanted to pay homage but, at the same time, be distinguished. I get that, I totally do. It just didn’t work!

Maybe I’m being weird and picky but, I expected the live action creations to AT LEAST look like the 1994 counterparts.

I mean… I get it… it’s shooting real life animals. My issue? They looked TOO real. It sounds stupid I know. In my mind’s eye I wanted them to look like this…

I was sent this on Instagram

In the characterisation, I was expecting to see at least a bit of the animated features. I just didn’t get that and if anything, the animals looked a bit scary! I will say; the attention to detail with Pride Rock, the elephant grave yard anthe various pieces of nature, was brilliant.

The realism was captured so I’m not going to discount that. I commend the production team for trying. I think as the film wore on, I was just comparing everything to the original. The Lion King is one of my ALL TIME favourite films, and although I said I was keeping an open mind, this didn’t do it justice.

Musically – a big well done, because the songs from the original soundtrack were kept in. (I think if that was changed completely there would have ddefinitely been an uproar.) But shoutout to Burna Boy (Nigerian musician) for getting a featur on the album.

The dialogue seemed awkward to me. When you speak, it isn’t laboured or forced and there were some scenes that seemed strained to me. Also… why did Zazu (John Oliver) have so many speaking parts and prolonged conversations? It wasn’t necessary. They tried to make him funnier than he needed to be.

I couldn’t fault the legendary James Earl Jones as he reprised his role as Mufasa.

Now…. on to Donald Glover and Beyoncé. Personally, I would have prefered if she wasn’t in it altogether. I think she’s a great actress… in the righ roles. I just think this one came with pressure to do Nala justice.

Beyoncé has such a distinctive voice, that even in the parts when she was trying to sound “more African” or whatever, it just came out as if she was reciting one of her song lyrics.

Honestly I don’t think this film needed her. They could have cast anybody else to play Nala and it still would have worked. But she’s such as “big name” maybe they thought it would do well for publicity. I think it did… but not necessarily in a good way. She did make an effort but it just wasn’t received well. She got another album out of it (I think) so that’s good. She makes money regardless.

Donald Glover, on the other hand, I think did well considering what he was working with. I really think he’s underrated as an actor. My only issue here was, again, the dialogue. Some of it seemed stale.

Thank God for Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner! They were brilliant voicing Timon & Pumba. The chemistry of the duo was brought to life here. The quick wit and anecdotes made the whole thing bearable.

All in all… I won’t be watching this film again anytime soon but I can appreciate what they tried to do. I really think Disney need to really think about the next lives they’re going to put out. I was very underwhelmed with this one.

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