BSO Review: ‘The Lion King’ Checked The Necessary Boxes But Ultimately Falls Short of the Original (Video) – BlackSportsOnline
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BSO Review: ‘The Lion King’ Checked The Necessary Boxes But Ultimately Falls Short of the Original (Video)

The live-action version of The Lion King premiered this week in Los Angeles after much anticipation. Lead by Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, and Beyoncé, the Disney remake managed to dominate headlines long before premiere day.

When I sat down to review the 2019 version, I had to keep a few things to keep in mind.

There is a heavy burden that comes with remaking a film, let alone a classic like The Lion King. Ranked the 7th highest-grossing Disney movie of all time, the live-reboot had large paws to fill, and that’s without the star-studded cast. Not to mention the necessary injections of something new and interesting to set it apart from the original. As with all classic Disney films, the cast is expected to both sing AND act. With live-action, there are no fun dance numbers and costumes to rely on since the animals are “real.”

(Not like Mermaids, which are definitely not real and therefore can look like anything and anybody.)

Instead of running down The Lion King‘s story plot, which most people are familiar with, here’s a list of the necessary checkmarks a remake should hit to be at least average:

  • An epic opening, performance of the “Circle of Life” complete with a South African choir and Simba held up high.
  • Mufasa’s death
  • Simba, Pumbaa, and Timon singing Hakuna Matata
  • An epic final showdown with Scar, the resident Uncle/Antagonist.

Turning back to the 2019 version and how it measures against original, it hits the four major points. In addition, the child versions of Simba (JD McCrary) and Nala (Shahidi Wright Joseph) capture the essence of the cubs, Mufasa is once again played by James Earl Jones, easily making us drown in our own tears. Pumbaa (Seth Rogan) and Timon (Billy Eichner) bring the funny and Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) makes for an appropriately, sinister-sounding Scar.

So how does a picture that hits the necessary marks fall short? For one, the absence of real emotion from the overall tone of the film and the musical performances. Plus, the comedic punch of Timon and Pumbaa is greatly appreciated but ultimately overshadows the rest of the cast. Conversational exchanges and calls to action from adult Simba (Donald Glover) and Nala (Beyoncé) sound forced and come up short compared to the performances of young Simba, young Nala, and Mufasa.

Fret not, there are positives. Donald Glover and Beyoncé perform a beautiful rendition of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” and Pumbaa and Timon deliver some real LOL moments. You’ll cry when Mufasa dies and the additions/detractions from the original story make sense.

Before the Beyhive jumps into my mentions threatening me, let me be clear, I LOVE Beyoncé. I’m not the most Bey-hivingist person in the world but I definitely sing ‘Love on Top’ at the top of my lungs when it comes on.

All in all, the live-action version of The Lion King is good but not great. It’s worth seeing if only to relieve the majesty of childhood. The hyenas are appropriately intimidating, and you’ll still want to kick Scar’s ass.

BSO Grade: C+

In case you haven’t seen the trailer for the star-studded, the live-action remake of The Lion King, flip the page.

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