I have spent the last 2 weeks talking about football, so today, I want to take a break from that and write about the new "Lion King" movie.
My wife and I decided to take our kids to see it last weekend, along with some of her family, and I was excited. I love the original, it is one of my all time favorite movies. And when I saw the cast for this new one, I got my hopes up very high. I know other critics have come out lately and said some negative things, calling it pointless and saying it looks weird and the songs are odd.
I disagree. I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. I thought it was fun, sad, looked cool and I really enjoyed the music. The fact that they got these animals to look so real with CGI work is stunning to me. It legitimately felt like I was watching real life animals speak to one another and sing songs. It looked like something that could have been on the National Geographic Network. It felt so real. I almost immediately forgot that it was CGI, until the animals started to speak. And the voice actors, for the most part, I thought were great. I'm a big time James Earl Jones fan, and he nailed it this second go round with Mufasa. It was comforting to hear a familiar voice right off the bat. He was excellent. Alfre Woodard as Sirabi was great as well. She empowered the loyalty, yet fierceness that the character brings in the movie. Young Simba and Young Nala, the actors escape me right now, were cute and fun and when they sang "I Just Can't Wait to be King", it brought me right back to childhood. Chiwetel Ejiofor, as Scar, was scary and menacing and made me forget that Jeremy Irons was the same guy in the animated "Lion King". Donald Glover was a perfect choice for grown Simba. He has a unique, well known voice, and he can sing. His renditions of some of the classic songs were great. Billy Eichner, as Timon, and Seth Rogen, as Pumba, were the best for me. They were funny and witty and charming and really brought on the essence of the original Timon and Pumba, with a little updated flair. Billy Eichner was truly wonderful. He was the best one in the movie in my opinion. John Oliver as Zazu was a good choice. They kept the character British which I liked. Keegan Michael Key and Eric Andre, along with Florence Kasumba, were frightening and funny as the hyenas. My only minor criticism would actually be for Beyoncé. She was the only one I didn't really let myself get lost into like I did with the other animals. I love Beyoncé, but this role, and her performance, felt kind of forced. It almost seemed like she didn't really want to be there. I felt like she was reading her lines off the script as they recorded her lines. She is wonderful, but acting just may not be her thing.
Outside of the cast and the look, the music was all good. They had all the classics, along with a refurbished "Be Prepared", which I was appreciative of because I didn't need my kids to be as freaked out as I was as a kid.
I do want to point out that, in a movie where CGI is used to make the animals appear real, it does get violent. But, imagine what would really happen if some lions got into a fight, or there was a stampede, or if some hyenas had you trapped. It would be scary, and this movie showed that.
All in all though, I found myself really enjoying the movie, and the experience of sharing it with my kids. My wife and I loved it, and we were glad that our kids had a good time with it too. I'd say, ignore the critics that are saying mean things about the movie. The critics trashing it, for the most part, are clichéd , hackey critics that only like Oscar bait. If you liked the movie as a kid, and you have kids of your own, or just a grown up kid, I'd highly recommend seeing it. It was great.