Back in 1994 as a young girl, I vividly remember seeing The Lion King in theaters and being emotionally moved by it. When I heard they were doing it again, I wondered if we needed another one, but I’m always open for more Disney. Sure enough, the new live action film has me in all the feels all over again, this time my mom and I got to experience it with my 2 older boys! We were honored to be among the first guests to see the film for opening night courtesy of D23. Here’s my thoughts on it.
If you have seen the original and loved it, I believe you will be pleased with this reboot. 15 seconds into the film’s opening I was in tears, (but I’m always crying over Disney haha). I was immediately swooning over the sweet and smooth deep voice of James Earl Jones as Mufasa, (how amazing is it that we get to have him back?!) The youngster voices of Simba and Nala, (voiced by JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph) were heartfelt and fitting. And the transition over to older versions of Nala & Simba voiced by Beyonce and Donald Glover were perfectly matched by the film’s backdrop of breathtaking landscapes.
There were obvious throw backs to the original animated classic, (many times word for word), but it was magic hearing them again inside this visual mastery. One thing that was new? A fantasical music break in the form of a fun Disney crossover. Comment below if you know what I’m talking about!
The visual art of the film was definitely my favorite character. From the moment it began, it was stunning to watch and pulled me into the lives of the characters so much so that for the majority of the film I felt as if I was watching a new Planet Earth with real talking animals.
My boys, (5 & 4), both laughed at the little silly things the new Pumba and Timon engaged in. They were both entertained and thoroughly concerned for the characters they loved. Neither one moved the entire movie. So, let’s chat “PG rating”; I would say that with young children, the real life feel to the film alongside the implied and demostrated violence between the animals does come out with a strong intensity and fierce undertones. Even knowing what was going to happen next I tensed up at the lion roars and snarls. I feel like the animated verison of the film had a scary scene or three, where the cartoon aspect of it perhaps softened the blow while viewing it. However, this film has those same intense topics and scenes wihtout the mask of bright, colorful animation. My boys were a bit scared but wanted to see what happened next. So if you have little ones, (I would say perhaps 6 and under), you may want to see this first and judge for yourself or wait until this comes out for home viewing with them.
Overall, I found Disney’s “The Lion King” to be absolutely stunning and immersive. I felt genuinely tranported back to my 12 year old self emotionally connected throughout the story. The sheer visual mastery of it is not to miss, so don’t. It’s in all theaters Friday, July 19th.