The Lion King (Review) 🦁 👑

Be Prepared for the most impressive visuals to possibly ever be on screen, and the best voice-over performances of 2019.

★★★★1/2

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Let me set the scene for you. 

It’s a beautiful Thursday night in NYC. I arrive at my favorite movie theater in the city (AMC Lincoln Square 13) around 8:30pm. As I walk into the beautiful IMAX lounge at the top level of the theater, I see a group of people dressed in kanzu’s, kanga’s and gomesi’s, which are the traditional dresses worn by Swahili speaking men and women in East Africa. So I am immediately IN IT. I am READY for what I’m about to witness.

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Fast forward to 9:20pm, and it happens… the moment we were all waiting for...
“NANTS’ INGONYAMA”, and the entire theater whoops and claps, and from that moment on, I was sold. My excitement never left. From the beginning till the end.

Disney’s Live-Action remakes have been very hit or miss over the last few years, and some would argue that they’ve been mostly misses. I think that could be true. However, The Lion King is not a miss. It is a knockout, and a visual spectacle and masterpiece, with the best voice-over performances of 2019. 

Before I get into my “Here’s what I know...” I just want to ask a question.
Why is it that critics are hating this film?

I cannot for the life of me understand how someone walks out of the theater and says to themselves, “Wow! that was garbage.”

How do you not walk out smiling, full of energy, nostalgia (if the original was during your childhood/adult life), and happiness for the world of cinema? 

If you look on Rotten Tomatoes, as of Friday, July 19th at 1:17am, the critic score has it as rotten, at 56%. But guess what? The audience score is 90%.

WHY ARE CRITICS AND AUDIENCES SO UNBALANCED?
Here’s my theory. I think that certain groups of people are going in with the attitude of “I hate these live-action remakes, and Disney needs to stop making them.” So my next question is, why hate it? If you go in saying you’re gonna hate it, what’s the point?

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Here’s a VERY fresh example.
The new Cats trailer dropped earlier Thursday afternoon. I’m an actor, and I have never been a huge fan of that show. My fiancé says differently, but I’ve always thought that was crazy. Anyway, I recorded a reaction to this trailer, and at the beginning, I literally say that I’m hesitant, and very concerned for this movie. In all truthfulness, I thought it was gonna be the worst thing I’ve ever watched in my life, but I WAS WRONG! I LOVED the trailer. I realize I may be part of the .01% of the population that felt this way, but I was willing to watch it, and hopeful that my mind would change, and thankfully it did. So I challenge all critics, audience members to be open, and to root for a film going into it. I pride myself on that, and for sure get made fun of for that, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

ALL that being said… I’ll admit, some of these remakes are... not so brilliant, Maleficent & Cinderella to name a couple, but Jon Favreau’s, The Lion King, is art. Does anyone realize the achievement they had in front of them? Top to bottom, it is an achievement. That is the word of the day, folks. What an achievement, and Disney should be rewarded for it. 

The Lion King had possibly the most impressive visuals I’ve ever seen. I’ve read a lot of people complaining that the downfall of the film is the “photo-realism”, and I don’t want to hear any of that. What this film just did, I’ve never experienced something like that in my life.

ALSO… the voice-over work by these actors was pure poetry and perfection. It is again, an achievement. Talk about a perfect cast, every single voice was unique, and told the story beautifully.

Here’s what I know about The Lion King...

  • The Academy needs to add Voice-Over Performance as a category, and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar) should win. If you want to know why, go listen to “Be Prepared”, and be prepared to lose your mind over an artist absolutely tasting the text, and serving it to you for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. I’d put this ensemble over the Toy Story 4 for voice-over. Yes. You read that correctly.

  • This was the most impressive use of visual effects, CGI, animation, photo-realism, whatever you want to call it, ever. Period.
    Give it Visual Effects now. I know I am ➡️ Oscar Prediction Center.

  • James Earl Jones. That’s it. He gets his own bullet point.

  • Beyoncé was wonderful, but I don’t think her song, “Spirit” was needed at all. It was placed in the right spot in the movie, but it just was unnecessary, and was clearly there as a hopeful Oscar nomination.

  • Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner were a hilarious tag team, and were given great banter, and I can only imagine how much fun they had in that recording room.

  • If you want to compare it to the original, that’s totally fine, but don’t say that the remake is bad just because the original is better. They’re both allowed to be good.

  • Hans Zimmer is one of the greatest musicians to ever breathe.


Be sure to check out my updated Oscar Prediction Center, now updated after seeing The Lion King


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