“The Lion King” Movie Review

Story posted September 19, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Emily Mugno

This movie was originally released on July 19, 2019.

This past summer, families were able to experience the release of a Disney classic, but there was a catch. Twenty-five years after its original release, “The Lion King” hit theaters in live action --- or at least computer animation built to appear like live action. People were extremely excited because of how well-received the “The Lion King” franchise has been, even earning acclaim outside of the film medium as an award-winning Broadway adaptation that has been running for the past 22 years.

“The Lion King” features some of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry. Simba, the main character, is portrayed by Donald Glover, also known by his music alter ego Childish Gambino. Mufasa, father of Simba, is portrayed by the same voice actor in the original animated film, James Earl Jones. This role is such an iconic one because of the power and recognizability that comes with Jones’s voice. Nala, Simba’s love interest, is portrayed by the graceful Beyoncé Knowles. Chiwetel Ejiofor voices Scar, Mufasa’s younger brother and the film’s main villain. The three hyenas, Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi, are voiced by Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key and Eric Andre. The two comedians of it all, Timon and Pumbaa, are played by none other than Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan. With this star-studded cast, it would have been difficult for this movie not to be a success.

The live-action remake did a great job of using the original film to replicate the classic narrative. The story of “The Lion King” is such a heart-warming one, emphasizing the importance of family and the characteristics of bravery and courageousness.

The movie begins with the most iconic scene: the reveal of Simba, son of the king of the pride land, as the wise baboon, Rafiki, displays him for all the animals of the kingdom to see. Later, the movie shows Simba’s childhood, his relationship with his father, and how he wants to be as good of a king as Mufasa is when it’s his time to take over. It is immediately obvious that Scar has some type of animosity towards his brother Mufasa as the king receives the love and praise that Scar lacks. He is willing to do anything to remove Mufasa from power so he can take over.

Once the main tragedy takes place, Simba is forced to run away, leaving Scar to take over the king’s throne. This is when Simba meets Timon and Pumbaa, who change his entire life. Simba adapts to Timon and Pumbaa’s lifestyle, “Hakuna Matata.” A few years later, Nala searches for Simba because the kingdom needs a real leader who can stand up to Scar. The classic story ends with Simba and Scar battling for the throne, just as the original did so many years ago.

Besides the story, another great part of this film is the music. Each character does a wonderful job of putting his or her own spin on each classic song, including “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” sung by Glover and Knowles. The soundtrack also adds some tunes that weren’t part of the original film, including “Spirit,” performed by Knowles.

The live-action film had the difficult job of trying to tell such an iconic story in the same way as its predecessor, and it accomplished that feat quite well. “The Lion King” was so aesthetically pleasing as a cartoon, and it is even more breathtaking observing the nature of it all in the 2019 style.

Rating: 4/5


Emily Mugno is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email esm6@psu.edu.