After all this waiting I finally saw The Lion King 2019 remake last night and I have to say while it wasn't as amazing or breathtaking as the original, it was still a good remake. For this review I will focus on three things: The parts of this movie I loved, what I was neutral on, and what I hated.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The opening was done shot for shot to bring back nostalgia for the fans and honestly I did not hate that. The opening chant was even exactly the same! Fans grew up with the opening from The Lion King, making memes, singing along, and even hearing the opening song just by looking at the picture of the sunrise.
The visuals were beautiful and the CGI wasn't even much of an eyesore. The night sky, the landscape, the water, and the animals all looked beautiful! It felt like I was watching an animal documentary on Animal Planet (you know, back when they actually focused on animals and not just pets?).
The music wasn't as great as the original but the singing was still amazing. If you're not a Beyonce fan, you might not like her singing Can You Feel the Love Tonight or Spirit but as a neutral fan, I still had shivers listening to her and Donald Glover singing. The only singing I didn't like was Scar's, but I will get back to that later. I Just Can't Wait to Be King was changed from having an animal pyramid in the end to the younger animals from different herds joining in at the end and Zazu just losing track of Simba and Nala because other animals kept blocking him. I can assume a cgi animal pyramid would have been hard to put together without looking silly so I can see why it was left out but I still thought all the baby animals joining in was really cute.
The hyenas were my favorite characters in the original and while the remake hyenas weren't as funny, there were still some moments where they got a few laughs out of me. The remake hyenas, especially Shenzi, were written to be more of a threat in the remake (not that they weren't a threat in the original, the remake hyenas just don't get distracted to make puns while Simba and Nala make a run for it) and Shenzi's voice mixed with her snarl always put a shiver down my back.
Scar wasn't as charismatic as the original and he didn't have a past with the hyenas before the start of the movie but like the hyenas, he was more of a threat. We saw him do more than just order the hyenas around and lounge around the cave lazily after killing Mufasa, in the remake he hunted with the hyenas and fought with Sarabi rather than just slapping her in a hissy fit (again, will talk about that later). His script had more dark lines and while his appearance and script reminded me of Shere Khan from the 2016 remake of The Jungle Book, it didn't remind me too much to actually annoy me. There's some more backstory for Scar too in the remake; we learn he wanted Sarabi to be his mate in the past but she chose Mufasa over him, something that he was clearly still bitter about years later when he repeatedly summoned Sarabi over the years after Mufasa's death to try make her his Queen; even getting to the point of starving the lionesses after Sarabi once again refused him. This little story is based on a deleted scene which was later added to the Broadway musical where Scar wanted Nala to be his Queen.
Nala was given more screen time in the remake, we actually see her having the endure what's happening in the Pride Lands before escaping (something we also see) and we see her fighting more in the climax. One memorable fight scene was her vs Shenzi, the latter most likely tormenting the former after Scar became King. While we don't see many scenes of Nala and Shenzi, the hate the two have for each other in the final battle is believable enough.
Zazu is given more screen time as well. Instead of being locked up or pushed around, he sneaks back to the Pride Lands whenever he can to give the "morning report" and he attacks Shenzi in the Elephant Graveyard to help the cubs get a headstart away from the hyenas and when Nala is escaping the Pride Lands Zazu distracts Scar so she can get away.
In the remake we actually see more animals living in the jungle with Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba. I always thought it was weird that in a jungle that big, only 3 animals lived there. We don't get to know them that much but they were there enough that they didnt overshadow the main characters or take up too much screen time. And when they joined in on Lion Sleeps Tonight it was fun to watch until Nala bursts in to eat one of them.
The stampede scene was probably my most favorite in the entire movie because it put me on the edge of my seat the same way it did in the original. It wasn't done the exact same way as the original so it wasn't too predictable and still made you scare for the characters. I've seen the original a billion times and I was still scared for Simba in the stampede.
Timon and Pumbaa in the remake had funny moments but they weren't as great as the original. I'm not a big Seth Rogen fan like I used to be and after seeing him in a lot of innapropriate movies (including Sausage Party, ew) it was hard to really see/hear him as Pumbaa (except when he did the fart scenes which I will talk about later).
Some of the scenes were a little rushed or were quoted word for word but it wasn't done so much that it ruined the movie. Even while some lines were reused, there were some changes to them to be more original. Nala and Simba's argument didn't have as much emotion as the original but I did kinda like that Nala ended up giving up on Simba and left the jungle and was on her way back home when Simba caught up to her after seeing Mufasa in the sky. And speaking of Mufasa, while his death did make me tear up a little, Simba's part seemed a little rushed so it was hard to actually cry like I do watching the original.
James Earl Jones returned to play Mufasa in this movie and while I was excited to hear his voice again, he didn't sound like he was into it as much as he was in the original. But the thing is he is in his 80s now and 20 years between movies can make a difference. Maybe he just couldn't sound as powerful as he did before or maybe it was bad directing. I'm not angry about this one because, again, he's in his 80s replaying a role for the first time in over 20 years, he probably did the best he could.
Rafiki wasn't as ecentric as the original nor did he have as many words of wisdom. The movie even left out his memorable quote; "The past can hurt. But you can either run from it, or learn from it!" which was the whole message of the movie!
Mufasa's scene in the sky wasn't as good as the original, only his face appearing form a flash of lightning in the clouds every now and then rather than actually "walking" in the clouds and actually being noticeable.
I've brought this up in another spot about how I wasn't a fan of the more obvious fart jokes in this version. In the original it seemed pretty obvious too but to be honest I didn't know for the longest time that Pumbaa had gas in the original because it was so subtle. I thought he was just a stinky warthog. In the remake, not only does Pumbaa actually say "farted" (Timon doesn't cut him off this time) we see him fart a couple time. And then later on when some of Simba's hair flies away so Rafiki can find it and realize Simba is alive, in the middle of the journey the hair gets caught in a tree branch and a giraffe eats it. Later we see a dung beetle rolling a ball of poop that the hair is on. We didn't get Rafiki's wise words about learning from the past but at least we got poop!
While I loved the stampede scene in the remake, Mufasa's actual death wasn't as great. Mufasa looked like a stuffed animal when he fell and Simba's little "No!" was so high pitched and undramatic it took me all my willpower not to laugh. The kid who voice little Simba did so great until he did this scene and when he had to be emotional after finding Mufasa's body. That had to have been the biggest reason I didn't cry too much during that scene.
Be Prepared was not as impressive as the original. It was almost going to be cut out because of the reference to the Nazis in the original (which wouldn't have been hard to take out, don't give me that nonsense) but after fans demanded it be put back in we were given a short version, Scar's voice actor isn't a strong singer (Jim Cummings sang part of Be Prepared when Jeremy Irons couldn't finish it so the remake directors could have just had someone do the singing for this Scar), and again, the singing, music, and visuals weren't as impressive or intense as the original which is a huge disappointment because Be Prepared was my favorite song in the original.
The hyenas and lionesses didn't have any unique features to tell apart besides Scar and one or two hyenas. Most of the time I couldn't tell if I was looking at Nala, Sarabi, or Sarafina. It's like the Netflix's miniseries Watership Down; besides a handful of rabbits it was hard to tell any of them apart for most of the series.
But the biggest problem I had with this movie with the laziest reason was how, besides Scar and sometimes the hyenas, none of the animals showed any emotion. Remember original Simba's face when he saw the wildebeast running into the gorge? Remember original Simba and Nala's faces when they were excited to see each other after so many years apart? Remember original Simba's face when he realized Mufasa wasn't going to wake up and yelled for help before crying? None of that is in the remake. Not even exagerating, the animals looked like this the whole time :| . People have made excuses that the animals looked realistic that way and don't show emotion but here's why I disagree; 1. Look up smiling lions on the internet 2. We've had CGI animals from different companies in the past showing emotion like Aslan from Narnia, the pokemon from Detective Pikachu, the animals from The Jungle Book 3. This is a movie about a lion singing about wanting to be king and then growing up on only eating grubs while being raised by a meerkat and warthog, realism means nothing here.
While I still had some fun watching this movie, there were problems with this movie that were just as frustrating to me as some of the other remakes were like Maleficent and Beauty and the Beast. And I won't lie, even after that I still caught the Circle of Life bug since after I got home I picked up my cat and did the thing (don't worry, she's used to it). So while I didn't love it, I still had fun singing along to some of the songs, listening to the instrumental music, and seeing the beautiful visuals.
If you saw it and still liked it, I'm happy you had fun. But if you hated it or you don't want to watch it at all, please don't rain on anyone's parade.