In Cinemas 17th July 2019

Disney’s “The Lion King", directed by Jon Favreau, journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. 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.... More

The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

The all-star cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon. Utilizing pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring treasured characters to life in a whole new way.

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Reviews

Liam Maguren

Is this new Lion King better than the animated one? That's the burning question on everyone's mind but here's a better question: what's the point of remaking that classic? The sceptic might believe Disney's reheating your nostalgia in a CGI microwave in order to get your money. The optimist might think the photorealism brings something completely different to the experience. Well, call me a sceptical optimist.... More

Indeed, the visual details are incredible and the animation's pretty much flawless on an anatomical level. If you didn't already know that from watching the trailer, director Jon Favreau proved its worth with his superb take on The Jungle Book. But while that film differed greatly from the 1967 version, 2019's The Lion King constantly imitates the original—and that's a big problem.

Exaggerated emotions simply don't work well with hyper-real animals lacking the required facial expressions. While you can buy a 2D cartoon Simba singing I Just Can't Wait to Be King, seeing this scientifically-accurate lion hold a high note just looks bizarre. Fortunately, no one dresses in drag and does the hula.

Zazu comes off even worse, pairing the over-expressive voice of John Oliver with the sight of a hornbill's beak clapping up and down—it's like watching a puppet made by a taxidermist.

However, with the more low-key performances, the pairing works fantastically. A natural slump in the shoulders and Chiwetel Ejiofor's calm menace make Scar a convincing threat. Same goes for the hyenas; they still crack jokes, but a dead stare and a simple flare of the teeth quickly turn them into something terrifying. Thrilling moments become more tense thanks to the photorealism, and when the Lions vs. Hyena climax kicks in, they go wild with it. It's kinda awesome.

Billy Eichner's Timon and Seth Rogen's Pumbaa also earn the spotlight with fresh gags performed modestly to suit the anatomical limits of a meerkat and warthog. In particular, their rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight put a cheek-cramping smile on my face. As the only musical number that properly works with the photorealism, the moment sees fellow animals clip-clopping in to contribute to the song in their own unique way. It's so good.

There are story adjustments that should be admired, too. Mufasa has a bit more of an indigenous worldview, preaching how land should be protected and not 'owned'. There's a pinch of emphasis on how overconsumption depletes the Earth's natural resources. They even touch on the bleaker meaning behind Hakuna Matata.

But a 'bit', a 'pinch' and a 'touch' aren't enough for a film that should have chomped, leapt, and embraced its difference as a (Pride) Rock Opera that puts nature first. Had Favreau been able to step out of the shadow of the original, this could have been something truly worthwhile.

Unfortunately, the film's obedience to the past holds it back from changing and evolving into something far better. In an unintended way, 2019's The Lion King perfectly reflects our current well-meaning but lacking attitude towards the environment.Hide

Empire (UK)

Beautifully crafted and carefully conceived, without ever entirely justifying its existence... So, you might feel the love tonight, but perhaps not quite as much as before.

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The Guardian

This is an anthro-leonine deepfake of impressive proportions, but the new Lion King gains in shock and awe while losing in character and wit.

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Hollywood Reporter

Everything here is so safe and tame and carefully calculated as to seem pre-digested. There's nary a surprise in the whole two hours.

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Los Angeles Times

By joining familiar material with mind-expanding technology, "Lion King" knows how to bring you around.

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New York Times

The closer the movie gets to nature in its look, the more blatant, intrusive and purposeless its artifice seems.

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Variety (USA)

From the ecstatic Zulu chant that opens the film... to the thundering drum beat that ends it... Jon Favreau's exhilarating live-action take on "The Lion King" hews closer to the Walt Disney animated masterpiece than any of the studio's recent remakes.

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TimeOut (New York)

This new Lion King is an invader of the real world, its characters akin to stuffed trophies mounted on the wall. They're lifelike, yes, but somehow not alive.

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Details

  • Adventure, Animated, Drama, Kids & Family, Musical, Blockbuster
  • 118mins
  • Rating: PG Violence
  • USA

Directed by Jon Favreau ('The Jungle Book (2016)', 'Iron Man', 'Iron Man 2')

Starring Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Florence Kasumba, Eric André, Keegan-Michael Key, JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, James Earl Jones