“Visually stunning, but lacking heart and soul,” scream the critics! Alas, they have a point. The music is such a big part of The Lion King, but as great as the CGI is, lions can’t sing, and emote, as they do in traditional animation. Because we know the story so well, I found myself looking at my watch. Scar is as devious as ever. You can’t wait for Pumbaa, Timon, and Zazu to get back on the screen. But Simba is to be King; he is the star. Except, this Simba just doesn’t quite connect. Even forgiving his youthful mistakes, adult Simba seems aloof. Given that you’ve seen the original, and the Broadway musical, The Lion King (2019) is still worth seeing, just disappointing. Expectations got in the way. I give this movie 3.5 Gavels and it has a 57% Rotten Tomatoes rating with no Audience score as of this writing.
Mufasa and Sarabi bring into the world a new cub, Simba, who is presented as the leader for the next generation. Ready to lead before he learns, Simba’s errors lead to the death of his father. Uncle Scar convinces Simba that he must leave and never return. Simba finds a care-free life with Pumbaa and Timon, unaware of the devastation back home. What will it take for Simba to take his rightful place?
Donald Glover voices Simba, compelling yet restrained by the CGI. Seth Rogen is so good as Pumbaa that you think he was a warthog in a prior life. Chiwetel Ejiofor is his equal as Scar, so evil your skin crawls. John Oliver, as Zazu, gives life to the first half of the film.
Will this movie make lots of money? Certainly, it has little, to no, competition, and a brand. Will it flop as much as Dumbo? Again, not likely, although after a very strong opening in China, it fell to second place the following week. Costing $260 million, it projects to make $450 million in the first 10 days. Then, The Lion King is to be one of the first films released on Disney+. Are we tiring of these re-makes? Clearly, there is some fatigue, but Mulan (2020) is one of the trailers you will see. In its favor, Mulan is a person, not an animal, so CGI is not as critical. Bottom Line–it’s good, not great, suffering in comparison to its predecessors.