THE LION KING: A Review

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Can you feel the love tonight? Can you feel all the feels? Did you get goosebumps? Were you clearly more overly excited than the screaming 5-year old in the theater? OR...or...did you not get feels? Were you disappointed? Did you feel like you wasted your money? Did you feel like you were watching some weird version of National Geographic?

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Obviously, there have been many opinions floating around about the 1994 remake of Disney’s The Lion King. The movie premiered last Friday on July 19th, with early showings beginning on the 18th, and despite what some opinions are, the movie has done very well. Just in its 5-day reign as a box office hit, it was able to accrue $243.2 million in the U.S. and $595.1 million worldwide. So, let’s not say we didn’t all give it a try or give our coins to the cause because these dollar signs aren’t lying!

When it's all said and done, honestly, I still give the movie a solid A. I’m giving it this grade because for one, the message stayed the same and spoke to me on an even deeper level. I think there’s something to be said about not ignoring the fact that if you grew up on the ’94 version, this movie hit you differently in 2019.

Looking at the various relationships between the characters, as an adult you evaluate them and you can label them in a way you weren’t able to do as a child. Whether it’s taking a look at the father/son relationship and the way Mufasa guided and parented Simba, that didn’t change and you have an appreciation for it. If you’re a parent, you probably relate and certain emotions are evoked because you either aim to parent the same way Mufasa does or you actually do! If you’re not a parent, you probably still have certain emotions because either you were raised that way or maybe you desired to have a parent invest in you like Mufasa. Let’s look at the brotherly relationship between Scar and Mufasa. Well, if you grew up with siblings you know where you stand with them today. You know if you’re very close with them and you all are the perfect set of best friends. On the other hand, you know if they called you right now you would either decline it or painfully answer because it’s still your sibling and you know your mom would pester you to no end about how that’s your brother/sister and you need to love them anyway just like Mufasa did. Or there could be no communication because of something drastic that happened. Either way, SOMEBODY RELATES! And let’s even examine the relationship between Scar and Simba and how Simba is an innocent child being manipulated early on by a sick, jealous and crazy uncle. You hate to see it, but that’s real life for some people.

There were so many other lessons to take away as well! This past Sunday, my pastor threw in his message that Timon and Pumbaa served as friends of mediocrity to Simba!! Even though they were trying to show him a more relaxed way of life, that wasn’t his purpose! They were deterring him and trying to hold him back in a place of comfortability and no responsibility.

Let’s breathe on THAT note because I definitely wasn’t picking that up at 4-years old. Then there’s the timeless and probably most notable message of finding your destiny and coming into who it is that you’re meant to be in this world and carrying out your purpose. At times you feel lost and forgotten, but you’re not. You’re not forgotten, you are seen, and you are being watched over. Yes, there are plenty of struggles in life, but with good friends, supportive loved one and a song about having “no worries” every now and then (and I stress this), should be able to get you through.

We can’t continue this review any further until we speak about the cast. There were numerous posts, memes, videos, parodies and more about with Beyoncé joining the cast as adult “Nala”, that it was another chance for it to be all about Beyoncé. I have to respectfully decline that notion though. I absolutely enjoyed every single person that contributed to this new cast. I enjoyed Donald Glover and Alfre Woodard. I especially enjoyed Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan providing their voices for Timon and Pumbaa. THAT was a match made in heaven! And of course, you have to admit you had an appreciation for James Earl Jones returning to provide the ever-iconic voice of Mufasa. Say what you want, but every person that provided their voice really did an excellent job in helping to recreate this movie.

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Now, I know I’ve said a lot of positives and really hyped the movie up, however, there were some things that I didn’t particularly love or felt it could’ve gone without. For starters, I didn’t appreciate that Scar’s “Be Prepared” song was chopped and screwed the way it was. Whether it was for the reason that Chiwetel Ejiofor couldn’t sing for real or they thought it wasn’t needed, it messed me up. Though Scar is the antagonist, he still deserved to have his moment with his song. So, sometimes we all enjoy a climactic scene where we’re given a little backstory and quick little “OOP! TELL THE STORY THEN!” moment. However, The Lion King was not the one to insert that. I guess the writer’s thought it would be nice to insert a backstory where Sarabi, Simba’s mother, had chosen Mufasa rather than choosing Scar and for all these years that’s been another reason as to why Scar has had so much hatred for his brother. It’s a tactic that I think we’ve seen time and time again, and for some movies, it works, but I actually found it rather inappropriate for this one.

But returning to the positives. The musical numbers, of course, are to be cherished and celebrated as well. I was very happy to have all the nostalgia in the world and being able to hear all the songs I’ve grown up to love and sing them all over again was a great bonus. At the same time, I appreciated some of the new songs that were dropped along with the movie.

All in all, whether you’d rather stick to the cartoon version or whether you’ve seen the live- action, The Lion King is still and ultimately always will be a timeless classic to be able to enjoy and love for years to come!

by Nia I. Williams