The Lion King (2019)

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This article is about the 2019 photo-realistic computer animated film. You may be looking for the 1994 animated film of the same name.
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The Lion King
The Lion King (2019).jpg
What's the point of remaking the original film if you barely do anything new about it?
Genre: Musical
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Produced By: Jon Favreau
Jeffrey Silver
Karen Gilchrist
Written By: Jeff Nathanson
Based On: The Lion King
by Irene Mecchi
Jonathan Roberts
Linda Woolverton
Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff
Starring: Donald Glover
Seth Rogen
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Alfre Woodard
Billy Eichner
John Kani
John Oliver
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
James Earl Jones
Photography: Color
Cinematography: Caleb Deschanel
Distributed By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release Date: July 9, 2019 (Hollywood)
July 19, 2019 (United States)
Runtime: 118 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $250–260 million
Box Office: $1.657 billion[1]
Franchise: The Lion King
Sequel: Untitled The Lion King follow-up (In development)

"The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music up. Music was so much a part of the original and the music in the current film didn't have the same impact. The magic and joy were lost."
Elton John[2]
"The personality of the original film is nonexistent here. This film is soulless."
Chris Stuckmann

The Lion King is a 2019 American musical drama film directed and produced by Jon Favreau, written by Jeff Nathanson, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It is a photo-realistic computer-animated remake of Disney's traditionally-animated 1994 film of the same name. It premiered in Hollywood on July 9, 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States on July 19, 2019.

In September 2020, it was confirmed that a follow-up film was in development with Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight, attached to direct.


Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa. 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. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba's exile. Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

Why It's Not The King

  1. False advertising: When the film is announced, it was reported that it would be a "live-action" film, but in reality, it is actually a computer-animated film with photo-realistic imagery.[3] Director Jon Favreau himself repeatedly claimed that it was live-action, before admitting that every scene is computer-animated except for the opening shot of the sun rising.[4]
  2. Very poor and bland direction of vocal performances that comes across as one-note, with many of the actors sounding as if they were generically reading off of the screenplay much of the time; even James Earl Jones as Mufasa seemed to fail to try here, with many of his scenes including the one where his character is killed being watered down by sub-par acting from him; similarly, Donald Glover's performance as Simba sounds like as he was sleepwalking the entire time.
    • On the related subject of said Jones, it seems really hypocritical for them to have him reprise his role as Mufasa but not get any of the other voice actors from the original film such as Whoopi Goldberg or Jeremy Irons; thus, it clearly seems to be a way to pander to nostalgia for Jones. It is understandable for them to not have specific actors such as Jonathan Taylor Thomas reprise their roles, as he is currently far older than he was in 1994... but for the adult actors such as Jeremy Irons or Rowan Atkinson?
  3. The movie is rather pointless and unnecessary, since there was absolutely no reason for the film to be made in the first place, as it is almost exactly identical to the original film in terms of the overall story and even takes some of the exact same shots from the original film.
    • Furthermore, what makes the film even more pointless and unnecessary is the fact that the original canonical continuity was still prominent through The Lion Guard as of the film's release.
  4. Several of the changes that have been done for this remake are also either mediocre or pointless, and specific scenes in the original film are cut for no discernible reason:
    • The role of Rafiki, who played a significant role in guiding Simba in the original film, has been severely reduced and wasted.
    • Banzai and Ed were re-named to Azizi and Kamari, respectively, despite there being no real reason to other than to make them more Swahili-sounding.
    • Several of the additions are quite redundant, more specifically the inclusion of Timon and Pumbaa's animal friends; it could be argued that their inclusion was simply a way to reinforce Simba's time in the jungle and how he has to live Timon and Pumbaa's ways, but him being all alone in the jungle with Timon and Pumbaa and having to live their ways was already clear and meaningful enough in the original film.
    • Some animals that didn't appear in the original film (either appearing in later media or never appeared in the franchise at all before the remake) appear in this film. They include aardvarks, bat-eared foxes, bush babies, dragonflies, dung beetles, elephant shrews, gray crowned cranes, gray parrots, and weaver birds.
      • The novelization includes a talking honey badger, which did not appear in the film.
      • Additionally, despite the dung beetle character not having lines in the film itself, he does speak in the Pride Lands Pedia bonus feature exclusive on digital platforms and is voiced by Atticus Shaffer (who voices Ono from The Lion Guard).
    • In the original film, Scar verbally and physically abuses Sarabi for "not looking hard enough" for food and narrow-mindlessly rejects her suggestion to leave Pride Rock. In the remake, he abuses her for refusing to be his mate and still chooses Mufasa, even after his death. The remake also implies that Scar deliberately orchestrated the Pride Lands' transformation into a wasteland by giving the hyenas first dibs over the lions on any hunts out of spite for Sarabi still refusing him in favor of Mufasa, whereas in the original film, it was simply due to Scar's incompetence in ruling the kingdom that this happened.
      • This could be inspired from the deleted scene of the original, where Scar wants to have Nala be his mate, but refuses, and additionally from Hamlet, one of the original film's inspirations, when the titular prince's mother becomes a reluctant queen to Claudius after he murdered his brother in order to take the throne.
      • In the original film's sequel, it's noted that a group of lionesses supported Scar during his reign and one of their offspring was chosen by Scar to become king. In the remake, Scar's intentions to make Sarabi his queen to gain the respect of the lionesses indicate that no lionesses support him, and that he is yet to have an heir if he does not have a queen.
    • The scene where Timon and Pumbaa sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" before Nala chases them is expanded into a short musical number, assuring their fellow herbivores that everything's okay and even sings along with the duo until Nala interrupted them.
      • Also, the scene where Pumbaa tries to catch a rhinoceros beetle was changed to Simba trying to catch it after returning to Pride Rock after Mufasa has Zazu to send him back before meeting up with Scar. The rhinoceros beetle in that same scene has the same colors of its real-life counterpart instead of being blue.
    • In the original, Scar did not necessarily mind not having a queen, but in this film, he wants Sarabi to be his queen.
    • In the original film, Rafiki is seem using his Bakora staff to the Pride Rock, hugs Mufasa, and then later when he breaks pulp from the fruit in half, which putting on baby Simba on his face, but in this remake, he doesn't use his staff and he brings red twigs instead during the opening scene of "Circle of Life" song. He also doesn't hugs Mufasa as well, since he touch Mufasa's face.
    • One message from the original, "take responsibility for your past," along with the grassland background drop in the same scene in which it appears, has been removed in favor of a lake background drop to "find" Mufasa from there.
    • Even individual scenes from the original film seem to be pointlessly extended simply so the film would seem longer and more ambitious than it actually is, more specifically the bit of pieces of Simba's fur being blown away by the wind as it makes its way towards Rafiki.
    • On the topic of Nala, whereas in the original she was portrayed as a tomboy-esque sarcastic lioness with an adventurous risk-taking attitude, here she is pretty much naggy a lot of the time, to the point where during the elephant graveyard sequence all she can do is try and urge Simba to return home; as a result, it becomes harder to relate to her when she tries to convince Simba to return to the Pride Lands, and thus more difficult to see how it is the right thing for Simba to take his place as king because his best friend sees him in such a dutiful and inconsiderate way.
    • Some of the scenes from the original film that are changed lose their original meaning (and thus are less meaningful than before); for example, in the original film, it was Simba's boredom and subsequent attempt to pounce a grasshopper that motivated Mufasa to teach him a "pouncing lesson" (with him essentially taking a break from listening to Zazu's morning report), which adds to the relationship between the two characters and establishes how much Mufasa cares for his son, whereas here in this film Mufasa is implied to have only did so out of boredom of listening to Zazu's morning report, and thus the scene is less meaningful in comparison to in the original. Another is the scene when Zazu alerts Scar that Mufasa is coming to confront him for not arriving at Simba's birth ceremony, in the original he mocks Scar for playing with his food before informing him about Mufasa's arrival to his cave while it didn't happen here, and when Scar was attempting to eat Zazu for annoying him, in this version Zazu informs that it was illegal for him to do so because he is the majordomo to the king.
  5. At times, the music fails to match the intended tone of what is occurring in the scene, resulting in it feeling rather out-of-place and inconsistent; one most notable example of this is when Zazu informs Mufasa about the presence of hyenas in the Pride Lands after the pouncing lesson, during which one can clearly hear calm and upbeat music playing, which feels out-of-place in a scene that is supposed to be urgent.
    • The song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" performed by Beyoncé, Donald Glover, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen also takes place during the day... despite the word "night" being in the song title.
  6. It lacks the charm, originality, depth and emotion that made the original so memorable:
    • John Oliver's performance as Zazu comes across as irritating and lacks the charm that Rowan Atkinson's performance as the aforementioned character had in the original film.
    • Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance as Scar sound boring and nothing like in the original film and doesn't have much the charm of Jeremy Irons' performance as well, since Jeremy Irons' voice performance as the aforementioned character sound much better, great and fits the tone.
    • Whereas the hyenas were more comedic and had plenty of goofball-esque moments in the original, here they are stripped of those and thus have much less personality and charisma.
      • This issue also extends to Scar, who is more miserable and gloomy as well as quite aggressive towards those around him rather than being sarcastic and sly.
  7. The computer-generated imagery visuals for the animal characters visuals with the film, despite appearing lifelike, seem pretty much lifeless, with all of the characters barely showing any expression or emotion at all due to the filmmakers seeming to desperately try to make the film look as realistic as possible, further limiting the expression; part of the charm of works in the original canonical continuity is the magnificent and intensely expressive animation, helped by a huge range of expression, complimented by the particular character designs.
    • Most of the musical sequences suffer from this, with "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" being mostly just Simba and Nala running around, with there being an obvious lack of colorful visuals, something used in the same sequence from the original to show a visualization of Simba having a rather simplistic view of his world; "Be Prepared" is also visually inferior to in the original, as it is simply just Scar climbing to the top of a cliff as the hyenas watch at what is merely a dark area with a lack of smoke, geysers or fire; lastly, "Hakuna Matata" is just Simba, Timon and Pumbaa walking while awkwardly miming the song.
      • On the related topic of the said songs, there is an orchestra-like version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" performed by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen, which seems to be failed attempt of being current with the Internet.
      • Continuing the aforementioned topic, in "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", the volume for the vocal performances for Donald Glover and Beyoncé sounds uneven, with the sound for Glover's performance seeming to be lower whereas the one for Beyoncé's seems to be much higher.
    • Additionally, many species of animals in real life can express more emotions than the ones in this movie, which is simply illogical; this is because in comparison, the animal characters featured in every other Disney live-action remake and other non-Disney films as well, such as Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, do express actual emotions, similar to real-life animals, yet the makers seemingly forgot that aspect for this film.
    • Scar suffers the most from this, as the realistic approach completely removes the ability to squash-and-stretch his facial proportions to convey his sinister nature and ends up looking like just an ordinary lion with brown fur and a slight scar that isn't intimidating at all.
    • In addition, not even helping that it doesn't look too right as well when Simba is dancing in this remake. Instead, it looks more like he's readying himself for battle.
    • The colorful and vibrant color palette from the original film is also completely lost, resulting in this remake appearing rather drab and dull. For example: Mufasa's fur is red in the original, whereas the remake where it changed the Mufasa's fur to orange.
    • Even the cinematography is obviously uninspiring, there is honestly nothing to say about it other than how it appears to resemble Africa with computer-animated animals being pasted there.
    • Overall, the film looks and even feels more like as if it were from a nature documentary (like National Geographic) than a remake of The Lion King; unironically, this was actually Jon Faverau's intention, as stated in one interview.
  8. Continuing the topic of the realistic look of the film, there are at least a few instances in which the viewer can barely tell the difference between any of the lion characters; two of the most blatant examples include when Nala flees from Pride Rock after which Sarabi literally to say the former's name so the audience would know who the lioness who was shown leaving Pride Rock actually was to avoid any confusion, and in the climactic battle between Simba and Scar.
  9. The scene where Mufasa is killed by Scar is worse than in the original, as it is made to look like Scar just slap him on the face with his paw, leaving a gash over his eye, instead of brutally tossing him off the cliff and then Mufasa fall into the wildebeest stampede, with Simba just yells "No!", which is the most laughable moment. Also, Scar's delivery of his famous line "Long live the king!" when he says it out loud instead of whispering it to Mufasa is rather angry, over-the-top and bland compared to in the original, where it is actually menancing and scary.
  10. Two plot holes: First, Scar sends Zazu to get the pride after convincing him that he will help Simba and Mufasa, yet he later convinces the pride that he didn't reach the gorge in time to help Simba and Mufasa. Given that Zazu still visited the pride at Pride Rock to relay information, it is unclear as to why he didn't realize this and reveal to the pride that Scar was lying. Second, the pride doesn't come to Simba's defense when he confesses responsibility for Mufasa's death, even after he says it was an accident that happened when he was a cub, and Scar backs Simba to the cliff of Pride Rock and gloats to him about the look in Mufasa's eyes before his death. Whereas in the original film this was a more private conversation the others didn't hear, in the remake, once Simba turns the tables on Scar, Sarabi asks how Scar saw the look in Mufasa's eyes if he didn't make it to the gorge in time, proving that it wasn't a private conversation. If Sarabi could hear Scar admit he was lying, why didn't she try to step in sooner?
  11. Useless and unneeded padding filler that it would feels quite short than that.
  12. Subpar dialogue, with the fact that one of Scar's lines begins with, "As you know...", is quite generic and cliché; Simba also states, "You said I could patrol with you today, and today has started," in his first scene as a cub.
  13. Poor directing of Jon Favreau, considering how he directed much better movies, such as Iron Man, Elf and The Jungle Book.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The updated songs are decent, except for "Be Prepared" performed by Chiwetel Ejiofor.
    • In addition to songs, the new song, "Spirit" performed by Beyoncé is also decent as well.
    • On the related topic of music, the score by Hans Zimmer is decent, although some of the tracks are superior over in the original film.
  2. Despite the given flaws, the computer-generated imagery is magnificent and looks incredibly realistic, and all the main characters along with the other animals (including some that were changed in the film) are very accurate-looking to their species.
    • On the top of that, Pumbaa as a piglet (in this film) looks very cute.
  3. The hyenas, particularly Shenzi, are more powerful, menacing and terrifying than in the original film, despite having lost a bit of their charm; in particular, Scar's death in this film manages to be very faithful to the original, but also manages to be much more terrifying than the original version, since he fights the hyenas back before being slaughtered and delivering a terrifying scream before dying.
  4. Beautiful scenery.


Critical response

The Lion King received generally mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, with praise for its visual effects, music and vocal performances (particularly Rogen and Eichner), but criticism for its excessive similarity to the original film and lack of originality, and facial emotion on the characters. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 52% with an average rating of 6.00/10, based on 429 reviews. The website's critical consensus read: "While it can take pride in its visual achievements, The Lion King is a by-the-numbers retelling that lacks the energy and heart that made the original so beloved--though for some fans that may just be enough.". Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on 54 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews", and the film holds a 6.9/10 on IMDb. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, and those at PostTrak gave the film a four out of five stars.

Chris Stuckmann earned this movie a rating of C, questioning how he calling it soulless.

The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes was more positive, with it currently holding an 88% rating, and 6.5 user score on Metacritic.

Box office

The Lion King opened up at #1 on its opening weekend grossing $191,770,759 domestically. The film earned $543.6 million domestic and $1.1 billion internationally; overall, it has made $1.65 billion against its $250 to $260 million dollar budget, making it the highest grossing animated film of all time, despite that Disney doesn't consider the film animated, even if produced animated. It is also the second-highest-grossing film of 2019, and the seventh-highest of all time as well as large box office success.[5]


Despite the mixed reviews, it received nominations for Best Animated Feature Film and Original Song categories at the 77th Golden Globe Awards[6] and 25th Critics' Choice Awards. It was also nominated at 73rd British Academy Film Awards and 92nd Academy Awards[7], both for visual effects.

Upcoming follow-up film

In September 2020, it was reported that a follow-up film was in development with Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight, attached to direct.[8] While The Hollywood Reporter said the film would be a prequel about Mufasa during his formative years, it is reported to be about both the origins of Mufasa as well as the events after the first film, in a similar vein to The Godfather Part II. Jeff Nathanson, the screenwriter for the remake, has reportedly finished a draft.[9][10] In August 2021, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Aaron Pierre were cast, with Pierre voicing the role of Mufasa.



  • This serves as the final credit for film editor Mark Livolsi, who died in September 2018. The film is dedicated to him.
  • With an estimated budget of around $260 million, it is one of the most expensive Disney remake films ever made.
  • Beginning on June 24, 2019 (which marked the 25th anniversary of the release of the original film), in its first 24 hours of pre-sales, The Lion King became the second-best pre-seller of 2019 on Fandango in that frame (behind Avengers: Endgame), while Atom Tickets reported it was their best-ever first-day sales for a family film.
  • In November, talking with, Favreau said the virtual cinematography technology he used in The Jungle Book would be used to a greater degree in The Lion King. Although some reports reported The Lion King would be a live-action film, it actually utilizes photorealistic computer-generated animation. Disney also did not describe it as live-action, only stating it would follow the "technologically groundbreaking" approach of The Jungle Book.
  • While the film acts as a remake of the 1994 animated film, Favreau was inspired by the Broadway adaptation of the film for certain aspects of the remake's plot, particularly Nala and Sarabi's roles.
  • It is one of the first theatrical films to be released on Disney+, alongside Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Frozen II, Captain Marvel, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.


External links


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