The Lion King Movie Review (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

The CGI remake of the 1990s animated classic THE LION KING (2019) will almost certainly be one of the most successful films of 2019. Rightly so? Or is he in danger of destroying childhood memories? We will tell us more in our review.

Of course, Timon and Pumbaa cannot be missing from the new “Lion King” film.

The plot summary

A future king is born in the endless expanses of Africa: Simba, the lively lion cub, idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and can hardly wait to become king himself. But his uncle Scar has his own plans to take the throne and forces Simba to leave the kingdom and go into exile. With the help of a boisterous meerkat named Timon and his warm-hearted warthog friend Pumbaa, Simba learns to grow up, accept responsibility and return to his father’s land to claim his place on the King’s Rock.

The Lion King Movie Meaning & ending

The animated film “The Lion King” is one of the great classics for many film lovers of current generations. After all, they grew up with him and are therefore responsible for one or two beautiful childhood memories. The death of the lion father Mufasa once caused a lot of children to moisten their eyes – and full coffers at Disney. In the wake of the remake wave, which has already fallen victim to “Cinderella , ” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Jungle Book , ” “Beauty and the Beast , ” “Dumbo ,” “Aladdin,” and soon “Mulan,” among others. and “Ariel” will fall, a new edition of this popular fairy tale is simply a must. And what could be more obvious than trying photorealistic CGI again after “The Jungle Book” to justify a new edition? After all, it’s difficult to make an actual live-action film with wild animals, and if “The Lion King” were told with people, it would ultimately just be another Shakespearean drama. With photorealistic computer animation – i.e. one that ideally cannot be recognized as such with the naked eye – you can orientate yourself as closely as possible to the cartoon template without taking too much risk. A staging approach that brought Disney a lot of criticism in advance, because, let’s be honest: the billion-dollar company is playing it safe with its remakes. The box office hits are already guaranteed with the choice of material and, in the best case, a quantum leap in cinematographic trick technology all in one. But do the emotions of real-looking animals in front of a real-looking backdrop ignite the same way they did 25 years ago?

Everything That Light Touches: Mufasa shows Simba the kingdom that will soon be his.

The answer is not very satisfactory: It is not possible to really assess it at this point in time, because in order to make this comparison one-to-one you would actually have to weigh up the two language versions against each other to which the emotional connection is still the strongest. In this country, especially for a film that is closely linked to one’s own childhood, that is the German one – and since the original version was shown in the press screening , the distance to the action is automatically just as great as if one were to watch the animated film again in the original version today . At this point, the perception of “The Lion King 2019” sometimes seems distorted. We will add information about the German version as soon as we have seen it. What, on the other hand, can already be judged very well in the original version are the new arrangements of the songs. Although we didn’t hear “The Eternal Circle”, “Be Prepared”, “Being King”, “Hakuna Matata” and “Can It Really Be Love?”, but “The Circle of Life”, “Be Prepared” “To Be King” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”, but the musical accompaniment by composer Hans Zimmer (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) sometimes seems more rounded than in the original, with a tendency towards slight modernization. The increased use of typically African instruments, more powerful chorales and the inclusion of the new song “Spirit” as background music in the scene in which Simba and Nala return to their kingdom give the film its very own acoustic identity. And the fact that “Spirit” only seems average as a stand-alone Beyoncé song has a system: If the new song “Speechless,” composed especially for the live-action film, appeared like a foreign body in the “Aladdin” remake, it makes perfect sense here that “ “Spirit” ripples along as an accompaniment rather than pushing itself unpleasantly into the foreground. However, if the song is not synchronized in the German version, the foreign body feeling will not be absent here.

However, there is no need to fear this in the story. While the visual leap from two-dimensional hand drawing to photorealistic 3D animation is unmistakable, the story sticks to all the familiar cornerstones. Individual scenes resemble the original like one egg to another – the prologue is about the same. But moments that have long since become classics, such as Simba’s transformation from a small kitten to a full-grown lion, the final fight between Scar and Simba on Lion Rock or the legendary wildebeest flight through the gorges, are borrowed from the original down to the smallest detail. The fact that “The Lion King” from 2019 still has half an hour more on the clock can, unlike “Aladdin”, not (only) be explained by individual additional scenes, which do exist occasionally, but in terms of time have hardly any weight. That’s a good thing, because in Guy Ritchie’s 1001 Nights adventure in particular, the narrative overhang only fit organically into the rest to a limited extent. Here, screenwriter Jeff Nathanson (“Catch Me If You Can”) takes a different, better route: Instead To add clumsy details, he simply cleverly expands well-known scenes in places. Sometimes this “only” has the advantage that the audience can enjoy the African flora and fauna a little more, while other times it even gives well-known characters a little more fine-tuning. Zazu (originally spoken by John Oliver) in particular benefits from the decision; with just a few extra seconds, he appears much more loyal to Simba’s family than in the original.

Scar has sinister plans.

Although photorealistic animation also has its pitfalls – such as the facial expressions of real wild animals, which can no longer be easily humanized under these optical circumstances, which, in addition to the synchronization, could be another reason why you should watch “The Lion King” from 2019 isn’t quite as emotionally moving as the original – the technical standard shown here by director Jon Favreau (“Kiss the Cook”) and his animators is beyond any doubt. No matter whether it’s the animals themselves, the landscapes or the plants, the weather, the representation of water or any other natural spectacle: a difference between the real flora and the one created here on the computer can no longer be seen by the naked eye. This sometimes almost gives the impression of a nature documentary; And here “The Lion King” actually threatens to offend you at the beginning when things suddenly start to happen in this naturalistic setting that wouldn’t actually happen here. At the same time, the makers have managed to rechoreograph even such iconic scenes as Simba’s “Be King” musical performance or Scar’s villain song “Be Ready” into a down-to-earth style that over time it becomes more and more successful to transform into this extraordinary type of exaggerated documentary presentation to drop. So when we talk about “getting used to it” here, it is certainly not to be understood negatively, but is – in the truest sense of the word – in the nature of the thing. As a viewer, you just have to digest so many visual impressions. And if you’re honest, it’s been a long time since you could say that you’d never seen “something like that” in big-budget cinema.

One of the biggest difficulties in design lies in animating mouth movements. In the case of “The Jungle Book” it was sometimes better or worse (and also quite dependent on the respective animal species) to create the credible impression that the panthers, bears, snakes and the like were actually saying human words. In this point too, “The Lion King” gains a few more meters, because it doesn’t just look much more believable when birds and lions are talking. The way some sentences are said off-screen seems very methodical, minimizing the risk of losing the realistic impression of the animation due to rather implausible mouth movements. Even in the expansive musical numbers, “The Lion King” works in terms of the overall concept, also because the makers know exactly which aces they have to play in addition to their appearance in order to delight the audience. Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), who had already become audience favorites in the animated original, are given even more freedom for their crazy interaction (by the way, without any inappropriately clumsy pop culture reference gags or the like!) and are also tearing up in “The Lion King”. “ from 2019 all the scenes themselves. And unlike in the original, they can even finish singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” here.

Conclusion: Overwhelming with drawbacks – “The Lion King” from 2019 is a visual revelation and can easily be described as a quantum leap on a technical level. The scenic additions and the new arrangements of the songs also give the new edition a pleasant independence. But regardless of whether it’s because we’ve only seen the original version or we simply don’t feel as sympathetic for animal facial expressions as human ones: the last emotional spark hasn’t ignited (yet). The film is still a must-see. Simply because it is really impressive what is technically possible these days.

“The Lion King” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from July 17th – also in 3D!

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